Various Artists: HelmetMeantime (Redux) (Magnetic Eye)

Genre: Noise Rock/Metal

To those of us of a certain vintage, Helmet’s 1992 breakthrough, Meantime, was a game changer – released amidst the dying embers of thrash and the commercial tidal wave of grunge, it showed a whole new way of being heavy and aggressive.

Hewn from New York noise rock, injected with hardcore’s urgency and full of infectious, staccato riffing and wild leadwork, Meantime was Helmet’s breakthrough; intelligent and intense, it was labelled ‘thinking man’s metal’.

Ok, so Page Hamilton et al may be credited with laying some foundations for nu-metal, but this covers compilation stays true to the band’s alternative, underground roots. And the sheer diversity and talent of the acts paying tribute here is testimony to Helmet’s far-reaching influence.  So you’ll find Winnipeg noise mongers KEN Mode clanging their way through a stunning version of Turned Out, Ottawa grindcore mob Fuck The Facts pulling Role Model into the heart of a tornado and Berlin-based sludgers Earthship powering mercilessly through Ironhead.

Elsewhere, Sunflo’er’s unhinged, punked-up cover  of Unsung  simply begs to be heard, while Ironweed strip You Borrowed right down to its vocal, creating a truly moving a capella piece in the process.

If you opt for the deluxe edition, you’ll be treated to a slew of additional Helmet classics: Brief Lives’ Milquetoast is the pick of the bunch, capturing the addictive groove of the original, while Rosetta’s  husky take on Like I Care plunges into the song’s hidden depths.

The absence of ‘big names’ featured here may keep it under the radar, but this compilation’s lack of gloss is its strength… and anyone who holds Meantime’s spirit close to their heart won’t be disappointed.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Back In Time