Helpless
Debt
(Holy Roar)

Thanks to bands like Converge, Gaza, and The Dillinger Escape Plan, what I call insane-o-core has definitely become a thing over the years. Mixing hardcore, grind, death, sludge, and noise (to name a few), there have been a number of bands who love to create their own metallic hardcore stew, and while most are entertaining/harrowing/fear-inducing, few leave a real lasting impression musically. That certainly isn’t an issue for the truly filthy debut from UK’s Helpless. I clearly owe a, well, debt to them, as this curb-stomping first impression has certainly left a mark. These nihilistic noise-mongers know how to efficiently throat-punch the listener.

Debt is a 10-song, 22-minute roller coaster, though it’s not really one of emotion. The record plays on the band’s namesake, as the listener feels helpless during the record’s fast and furious run-time. Staring into the hauntingly beautiful watercolor album art makes you feel like you’re looking into the abyss until you realize that’s likely some alien monster ready to tear you apart from the inside. However, despite a lot of (dead) flowery language, it’s important to distinguish Helpless from many of Gaza/Cult Leader’s and Converge’s disciples. This UK group really understands texture and variety. There is more dissonance than melody, but Debt sounds a good bit like Norma Jean’s classic debut wrapped up in a sludge/grind smallpox blanket. Helpless are more Cult Leader than Nails; there’s more atmosphere and emotion than simply a fury of seventh-circle-of-Hell evoking riffs.

That’s ultimately what makes Debt so endearing. Helpless are a band who understand how to craft a singularly disgusting and magnificently disturbing piece of art. It’s metallic hardcore at its, well, core, but this isn’t music to start a circle pit – nothing stays still long enough for that to work here. Instead, this wonderful debut is a masterwork at staring into the abyss and accepting our impending doom. Let’s face it all together and fuck some shit up along the way and let this incredible album serve as a guide.

Purchase the album here.

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