“Betty”, Album Review

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“Betty”, Album Review

Colin Emery, Staff Writer

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Helmet’s 1994 release, “Betty”, is considered by many as one of, if not the best album by Helmet.  Although this album is 25 years old, it still offers a gateway into the world of lead singer Paige Hamilton’s mind at the time of its release.  

 

Released in 1994, “Betty” would mark a turning point in the band, after their 1992 release “Meantime”, with the release of their two most popular songs to date: “Unsung” and “In The Meantime”.  “Betty” would go on to act as a sort of a template for the rest of the band’s albums to come and is very influential in the world of Alternative Metal.  If anything, “Betty” shows how Hamilton and the band matured since their first full album release “Strap It On”.  

Hamilton is known for his genius in the world of guitar, he even attended the Manhattan School of Music, where he was in avante-garde composer Glenn Branca’s orchestra.  

Though Helmet is considered Alternative Metal, former drummer, John Stanier is quoted as hearing a reporter once call it a “thinking man’s metal band”, a statement I would have to agree with.  The forty one minute long album features powerful tracks such as “Tic” and “Wilma’s Rainbow”, but it isn’t all intense.  “Beautiful Love” features a moving and delicate guitar intro that can only be described as incredibly angelic -until the forty eight second mark, when it turns into a directionless noise mush.  Hamilton most likely found his inspiration for “Beautiful Love” from his time playing in Branca’s orchestra, who at the time was experimenting with jazz and alternative guitar tunings.

Songs like “Speechless” show off the band’s tight musical connection and unity.  Following “Speechless”, “The Silver Hawaiian” leads a groove similar to bands like Primus, with a more thrash-funk feel to it that is sure to get your foot tapping.  The last song on the album, “Sam Hell” has a blues sound to it, mixed with Hamilton’s underlying heavy guitar.  

Since their reunion in 2004, Helmet has put out four full-length studio albums and continues to tour occasionally.  The only constant member of Helmet is Hamilton, who continues to give the band its sound and feel that is unique to Helmet.  The importance of “Betty” is still seen today, as it continues to inspire bands in the Alt. Metal scene.