Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
I was immediately enthralled upon first discovering London’s BLACK HELIUM a couple of months ago.
That allure was fueled by differing characteristics, of course, yet one of the biggest being that the band simply kick-ass musically. I’m a sucker for top-notch psych-rock. You know, the good stuff, or cream of the crop that rises to the top. And much like their namesake, BLACK HELIUM is surely in ascension, but trust me on this, they are far from inert.
Having recently unloosed their début album, the controversially tagged ‘Primitive Fuck‘, through Riot Season Records, the band is quite eclectic. They meld heaping helpings of stoner rock, psychedelia, doom, shoegaze, and noise rock into their cauldron, then flavor to taste with tints of glam, classic rock, and grains of aggression.
I also realize that any band with the resolute fortitude to title their album ‘Primitive Fuck‘ are all about doing their thing with determination, consequences be damned. Throwing such restraining cautions to the wind, Beck Harvey (Bass/Vocals), Stuart Gray (Guitar/Vocals), Davey Mulka (Guitar/Vocals), and Diogo Gomez (Drums), take us on a head trip to somewhere altogether different here.
Hazy, otherworldly psychedelia is the one constant ever at play on the record, it is served with myriad alterations, of course. There’s the powerful, somewhat drone type explored on such cuts as “Drowsy Shores” or the thought-throttling “Summer Spells“. Or perhaps you prefer the punk-infused, alternative quirk rock like that of “Videodrone” and the album-wrapping title track.
That is all fine and good, whatever floats your balloon, from neo-psych to fermented kraut and further beyond, it is all here somewhere. BLACK HELIUM are like the brooding antithesis to the lighter, more pop-oriented psych music out there and for me personally, one of the finest examples of this is “Love The Drugs“.
This chunky, riff-rallying, hard rock cut is best compared to Queens Of The Stone Age on a cocktail of LSD and barbiturates The press release accompanying this album was insightful to touch upon the psychotropic-centered, narcotic erotica this quartet is capable of emitting, saying: “a band your psychiatrist warned you about“. Indeed.
Two of the best capturings of those qualities are “Curtains At The Mausoleum” (official video below) and “Do You Want To Come Out Tonight“. This pair of back to back tracks are the high points of this album for me, both songs encompass the diverse expanses the band blends into their heterogeneous hodgepodge.
The first’s tinges of Middle Eastern nuances in its music, eventually giving way to a simmering, slow cooking cut of immense headiness. Its flow and delivery scales then descend, a variety of morphing highs and lows, while synths percolate and then pass through.
The latter track, “Do You Want To Come Out Tonight“, takes on a bit more straightforward styling, and dare I say somewhat pop-ish aesthetic. But damn if it doesn’t work, and work well, with fuzz-heavy riffs, dual-gender vocals, and catchy as hell hooks and choruses. If you do want to come out tonight, then this is definitely the song to do it to, the rest is up to you.
Dig this, you can stream BLACK HELIUM‘s ‘Primitive Fuck‘ here in this review, or hop on over to Bandcamp HERE for other streaming and purchase options.