Occasionally, promotional materials for upcoming albums can be…misleading or a little off. But the opening statement of “Fuck.” for debut full length Debt from Helpless is as on point as anything I’ve ever seen. Pulling on references such as early Gaza and Converge can be a slippery slope but this band from the U.K. knows a thing or two about how to put together a bunker bomb built simply to rip eardrums to shreds.
Back in 2015 Helpless released a self-titled EP that was twelve minutes of merciless grind as bleak as it was furious. So the only question from anyone that spent time with it was: how would this translate on a full length album? Just a little over two years later we have our answer: even better than the EP. For those that missed out initially and are wondering about the previously mentioned points of reference, you get yours immediately on opener “Worth” as the band explodes with violent fury. And they keep this breakneck pace with ease, barreling though “Grief Vultures” and “Sinkhole” as if their lives depend on it.
But the beauty of this full length is that it’s not all barbed wire and hellfire — although it really is as sweet as honey. Tracks like my personal favorite “Moral Bankruptcy” show that Helpless are just as comfortable at slower speeds as they are at warp speed. But also shows the kind of depth that was missed on the EP. It’s this kind of depth that bands like Trap Them and the aforementioned Converge have been so good at showing over the years. There’s a vicious groove that runs clean through the midsection here followed closely by a repetitive blast/stop cadence that is, in one word, golden. And album closer “Denied Sale” shows yet another side no one ever saw coming: dark and fully immersive noise rock…honestly, who knew that this grind troop would be so damn good at it?
So yes, “Fuck.” was indeed the perfect choice for opening the promotional materials as it says in one simple word what the reaction will be to the contents heard within. Debt is a jaw dropping debut that showcases Helpless at their fastest but also lays tremendous groundwork for further experimentation in the future. Barbed wire, hellfire and grim calm come together here in such a cohesive manner that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this on year end lists. Extreme metal fans take heed.