If the cats with lasers for eyes on the cover and throughout the liner notes of Helms Alee's new record, Weatherhead
, aren't enough for you, then perhaps the gravelly riffs within are. The Tacoma band's follow-up to their excellent debut, Night Terror
, shows how unboxable this Tacoma trio is. Weatherhead is an album of surprises: a record that is equal parts pleasantry and assault. At times it is melodic and pleasant, other times a racket of crunching guitars and vocal outbursts. Weatherhead dips in and out, up and down - offering not just songs, but a complete body of emotion as living and breathing and human as the people who made it. But when the band constructs complex, technical storm clouds (see "8/16" and "Music Box") - songs that erupt violently before blooming into something melodic and soft - is when they are their best. Guitarist Ben Verellen (Harkonen) roars alongside drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis' (Lozen) warrior-woman vocals, as bassist Dana James murmurs behind the din. It's tasteful and hair-raising. And when the band slow things down, they lay out rolling landscapes of introspective guitar work and delicate harmony. The calm, for Helms Alee, always comes after the storm. - Leah Sottile
Recommended Download: "8/16"