Helms Alee Night Terror

Hydra Head has created another soon-to-be cult band with Washington state’s Helms Alee. Starring Harkonen/These Arms Are Snakes’ Ben Verellen, this power trio skip across subgenre lines, making a controlled ruckus that is at once heavy and refreshing. "Left Handy Man Handle” starts like Theory of Ruin but is quickly tempered by tribal drums and a country western guitar twang, à la California Guitar Trio. "A New Roll” sounds like Big Business covering 31 Knots, at least until the Veruca Salt-like female harmonies kick in, thanks to bassist Dana James. Her vocals also allow "Grandfather Claws” to resemble a sludgy yet jangly Piss Factory, and "Paraphrase” shifts into a Melvins-like overdrive with male/female vocal duets. "Betwixt” does Jesu better than Jesu’s latest, while "Big Spider” displays the most Torche promise, with entrancing metallic chord progressions. "Wild Notes” is the only track that warrants the band’s self-described "psych-folk” tag: scratchy piano over atonal guitar washes and echo-y vocals. Night Terror is the album that the Melvins should’ve released instead of the retread drivel of Nude with Boots. (Hydra Head)