Some of my best finds have come from the simple act of following what bands I like listen to, then taking chances. In the case of The Helix Nebula, it was a humble post from Ocean Architecture drummer Nic Giordano that brought this band from Australia to my attention. One click, about ten seconds of music, and I was blown away. I shared it with a friend, and he too, in about ten seconds, was floored. I can just imagine the two of us, though a few thousand miles apart, probably had the same glazed eyes and drool running from our chins as the music battered us into humble acceptance of the fact that yes, the envelope of what instrumental metal is capable of, has been opened just a wee bit more.
The Helix Nebula, self described as “no longer just a studio project between two long haired dudes from Australia”, consist of Jake Howsam Lowe and Stephen Taranto on guitar, Simon Grove on bass, and Nic Tresise on drums. Though they have been making music in some form since 2011, Meridian is their debut, and oh what a debut it is….
Though the band is tech metal by genre, and follows the basic stylings of those before them, what they do with it is just a little bit more. One only needs to listen to Sea of Suns, the opening track, to realize that. Kinetic in pace, technically insane in form, they are off and running without warning. Just a few strokes on the guitar paced by some simple taps of the high hat are the only intro we get as they jump to it. The deep and furious bass coupled with the mindboggling drumming serve as a complex and convoluted backbone to the dual guitar attack. And that’s where they make their mark, swerving in and out of each other, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in complete discord, the dual guitars really give The Helix Nebula a whole new path to follow. As to the musical pace, I can say that I’m sure a few people had emergency services ready at the dial as they watched me try to headbang along to the organized schizophrenia that they play.
But it’s not all just musical technicalities on display here; this band adds another element, beauty. In a moment’s notice, they will slide out of the insanity into something incredibly soulful and moving without a hitch. A perfect example is towards the end of the second track, Temple. As the brutality is in full swing, somehow, and even after many listens I’m not sure, they merge all the sounds perfectly and bring it down into a truly sublime moment, near ethereal. And just as we start to settle into this lushness, they explode outwards again with track three, Convalescence, a viscous aural attack that is relentless in pace.
The rest of the EP follows suit, stud level technical prowess and skillful use of harmonies to smooth out the rough edges that come naturally with this kind of music. This is one band I will be keeping a close eye on, the potential here is almost limitless.