Review: Black Helium ‘The Wholly Other’

The Wholly Other by Black Helium is the 2nd release from the psychedelic rock group on Riot Season Records, Beck Harvey the inspiring heavy bassist also designed the art work for the LP, is there no end to her talents? Incidentally she also designed the previous LP Primitive Fuck. The four piece from London, offer, what I consider to be, beautifully riotous progressive rock ‘n’ roll, in the old sense of the word, progressive psychedelic and lyrically in your face.

Black Helium ‘The Wholly Other’

Kicking off Side A is Hippie On A Slab. The intro, with the whistling birdies, are perhaps a kind of nod to the isolation that we’re experiencing with lockdown – less pollution, less traffic and the sound of birdsong has been noticeable in the last couple of months, then a bolt drops you out of that lulling sense of security as the guitars drive in creating audio chaos. Echoed vocals on, and then a heavy drop with driving guitar & powerful drop beats throughout the seven minutes of the tracks highs & lows, climaxing with a jam freak out halfway through with noticeable guitar & bass shreds. See the flowers burning.

Two Masters starts quiet, then…heavy drums and splash cymbals dominate, combined with dynamic driving bass while the psychedelic vocals and repeated lyrics conjure up images of live synchronicity with a domineering guitar, reminiscent of Pink Floyd from their 60s definitive sound. The five minute track offers a rollercoaster of crescendos culminating in banging hypnotic sophisticated madness.

Death Station Of The Goddess brings a ten minute epic of forest magician wizardry. Creeping chanting, enchanting vocals, friendly drum rhythms lead to dreamy pop like vocals with lulling tremolo guitar and a softly approaching church like Hammond organ, creating a flowing airy atmosphere of where this song may go. Then, two thirds in, the heavy drone riotous double guitar action psychedelics jump in, kicking a hole in the speaker.

heavy drums and splash cymbals dominate, combined with dynamic driving bass while the psychedelic vocals and repeated lyrics conjure up images of live synchronicity…

On to Side B, One Way Trip makes Queens Of The Stone Age sound like Saint Winifred‘s School Choir in this monstrous epic running over five minutes. Samples of emergency war like communications and spoken word (I have a feeling it’s taken from some kind of psychological, and possibly psychedelic, conversation) overlay screeching guitars and an intensive care unit drumbeat adds to the drama, as traditional heavy doom noise and swirling guitars spin into chaos.

An arousing atmospheric upbeat riff runs all the way through the ten minute epic Pink Bolt. With a rumbling drum rhythm combining the guitars and bass rolling furiously into merely waters. Drummer Diogo takes lead & the guitars follow. I feel some kind of psychedelic stoner film score of doom. I’m getting Get Carter vibes starring, instead of Michael Cain, a bigger, heavier character, perhaps the Kurgan from Highlander, in some messy scene involving driving & fear.

After the intensity of Pink Bolt, we’re welcomed to the trip-tastic Teetering On The Edge. A lullaby, in a world of psychedelic heavy guitar and thunderous drums, we’re treated with a more gentle guitar lead and ocean like crashes from the percussion. Beautiful and light at the end of a heavy and dramatic roller coaster ride.

The Wholly Other was recorded live over two loud, sweat drenched days in August 2019 by Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse Studio (Green Lung, Casual Nun), just before the band embarked on a UK tour with Pigs x7.

Label: Riot Season
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Asha Chandragiri