HELIX - Bastard Of The Blues
July 9, 2014, a year ago
As the title suggests, Canadian rockers Helix has created a bluesy record with hard rock and classic rock influences on its 13th full-length album, Bastard Of The Blues. Written primarily by sole original member Brian Vollmer and former member Sean Kelly (Nelly Furtado), the record is a continuation of 2009’s Vagabond Bones and also contains two songs (“Skin In The Game” and “The Bitch Is A Bullet”) from the follow-up EP, Skin in the Game. Vollmer sounds as strong as ever on the 11 tracks. Perhaps it’s his mastery of the Bel Canto vocal technique that keeps his voice in tip-top shape. The lineup also includes longtime members Greg “Fritz” Hinz (drums) and Daryl Gray (bass), joined by Kaleb Duck (guitar) and Chris Julke (guitar). The band’s ’80s hard rock/“hair metal” influences aren’t as prominent these days, however, the distinctive guitar tone and harmonies of former guitarist Brent “The Doctor” Doerner are sorely missed here. Furthermore, I also think Kelly’s tenure in Furtado’s band has rubbed off some cheesy, pop-inspired influences that creep up just a little too often (“Winning Is The Best Revenge” and “Screaming At The Moon” for example). However, catchy choruses with soaring vocal harmonies has always been the band’s forte and thankfully, it’s still intact here. “Even Jesus (Wasn’t Loved In His Hometown)” is off-putting at first, but you’ll soon latch onto that infectious chorus. “Metal At Midnight” is a classic Helix anthem decorated with the catchy phrase, “Six strings are screaming to wake up your demons.” Although Bastard Of The Blues has its faults, Vollmer & Co. continue to crank out new tunes after 40 years.