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To The Helpless, New EP Review

To The Helpless, The Fringes Of Normality

If their press is to be believed, the Madrid, Spain sextet To The Helpless might just be the perfect band for the age of covid. In a recent interview rhythm guitarist and songwriter Lucas says that the group is “more of a studio band than a rehearsing/live band,” thus eliminating most of the non-socially-distanced activities that can get a musician sick.

If it’s actually true that they don’t rehearse much, it boggles the mind how they got the songs on their new EP, The Fringes Of Normality, to sound tighter than a mosquito’s ass. All four of the EP’s songs are marvels of a band working in perfect sync. The guitars and the rhythm section move as one merciless aural sledgehammer.

That’s not the only thing that makes this EP a blast, though.

These guys, Lucas, drummer Javi, bassist Colme, singers Mati and Dani and lead guitarist and token-last-name-user Alvaro Escri have somehow discovered the missing link between death metal and modern punk. The bass and drums are pure metal: Heavy, prominent in the mix and powerful without being ponderous. The guitars are razor sharp, but there aren’t any “look-at-me” metal solos. It’s strictly slash-and-burn punk riffs all the way through.

All of that volume and power serves as a foundation for a sneering, nihilistic lyrical perspective. The opening salvo, “Born to Lose (Death Comes Ripping)” lays out Lucas’ point of view: “We’re born to lose/Death is certain.”

“Mediocracy (Normal Sucks)” gleefully tears apart the fantasy that our lives were better before the pandemic (“Normal is the sheeple begging to gain weight/Normal is the middle class hoping to get laid”) and “Locked To You,” nominally a love song, goes over the edge from devotion to self-hatred: “I’m not much, but I’ll do my best/To always be there when you fall/The floor’s a place I like to call home.”

It’s not the most cheerful EP to spend 20 minutes with, in other words, but it’s also compelling, punishing and undeniably ALIVE.  -Vincent Harris

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