Its inevtable fact of life – people age and so do rock bands. And much like people, some of the aged bands are nothing but an embarassment to themselves and the world.
Then there are bands that are somehow capable of transcending the issues related to aging. Case in point – Mission of Burma, whose new work could stand right next to anything that the band did during their original run.
Mission of Burma were described as local favorites by Page Hamilton during a show that Helmet played at the Middle East club on October 20th, 2010.
In the end, current version of Helmet is no Mission of Burma – while decent sounding, their new albums still lack something that made their earlier work so special. “Seeing Eye Dog” (a follow-up to 2006 “Monochrome”) is a good example of this.
Its not a bad record, by any means – there’s still plenty of great songwriting on it. The problem is that it just doesn’t feel like Helmet – part of the reason could be the fact that Hamilton is the only original member of the band left (you could say that at this point he is Helmet).
Then there’s his voice, which, unfortunately, seemed to have lost some of its power throughout years – whether it was due to stress, alcohol or anything else is hard to tell. But it certainly sounds like there’s one person who was singing on, say, “Betty” and then there’s another one that’s singing on “Seeing Eye Dog”.
Even with all of its aggressiveness, “Seeing Eye Dog” feels so much lighter in tone than albums like “Betty” or “Meantime”. You can’t help but wonder whether songs like “L.A. Water” and a cover of Beatles “And Your Bird Can Sing” indicate that maybe there’s not much anger and frustration to dwell on anymore and the Page Hamilton sounds *gasp* satisfied with something.
For some bands it could be a good thing, but in case of Helmet its probably not. They used to just rip things apart, but now they sound like they’re OK with a little bit of destruction, but not a whole lot of it.
Unfortunately, the band will always be haunted – all of their new work will inevitably end up being compared to “Betty” and “Meantime”. In that sense, the album is not that strong, but if you’re fine with letting past go, then you should definitely give “Seeing Eye Dog” a spin or two.