Not sure if it's a compliment to be called a "thinking man's metal band" — if nothing else, it's not so nice to the other metal bands — but Helmet has always made smart music that never loses its punch. Singer and guitarist Page Hamilton founded the group back in 1989, and since then it's gone through the usual motions of a successful band: early attention leading to a label signing, a series of albums that grow more critically acclaimed but sell less than expected, band dissolution and breakup, subsequent solo work and collaborations, and an eventual reboot.
Throughout the years, Hamilton has remained productive, and he ultimately re-formed Helmet with new members and took the project to a new label. When the British post-punk pioneers in Wire tapped Helmet to play a few shows as part of the Drill: Seattle showcase back in November, we grabbed the band for this heavy, pummeling session. Songs like "Blacktop" amply demonstrate that Page, backed by his new crew, has only grown smarter over the years.