One of the juiciest new sounds of 2019 comes from quite an unexpected source…
Drummer John Stanier used to be in a nineties metal band called Helmet. Remarkably, the name was a blessing, given one alternative band name given serious consideration was “Tuna Lorenzo”.
Helmet were dubbed a “thinking man’s metal band”, which, at a time when Poison and Mötley Crüe were in the charts must have seemed like a jolly good idea. They broke up in 1998 having released five relatively successful albums.
The mainstream had a glimpse of the band on an episode of Beavis and Butthead. Either Mr Beavis, or perhaps Mr Butthead (history is vague on the subject) referencing the absence of the black, gothic stage gear so beloved of the genre, remarked “That drummer looks like a regular guy” and “If you, like, saw these guys on the street, you wouldn’t even know they were cool.”
But nothing lasts forever, not even bands called Helmet*, and a while after Helmet split, in 2002, the drummer who looked like a “regular guy”, John Stanier, formed a new band called Battles.
Despite being in existence twice as long as Stanier’s former band, in that time Battles has not been so prolific. Battles has released just a couple of EPs and three albums, plus a remix LP. Along the way, they have lost their lead singer, Tyondai Braxton, who left in 2011, and their guitarist, Dave Konopka, who left last year.
Perhaps this is what they mean by math rock: if you average less than three new songs a year and you receive $0.004 per stream, with four people in the band, the numbers simply don’t add up.
However, a new album, the not at all oddly-titled “Juice B Crypts”, is to be released on Friday 18th October, and the first songs previewed from it sound very exciting indeed.
Perhaps the only thing they have in common with Stanier’s previous band is (no surprise) the energetic, polyrhythmic (is that a word?) and highly skilled drumming. What does it sound like? If Foals covered Yes’ 90125 LP they might have produced something that sounded like “A Loop So Nice They Played It Twice”, which may not win the PR Awards’ “Most Appealing Song Description of the Year” category, but is still apt.
But why read hopeless descriptions of songs from music bloggers when you can simply hear the song for yourself on YouTube?
Here’s the video for the corking first song released from the new album, Titanium 2 Step.
* or perhaps some things never die: Helmet reformed and are still touring and releasing records.