California metalcore outfit I, Of Helix should be a lot bigger than they are. Perhaps its distance between records that has fueled their relative obscurity, but regardless of reason it’s a damn shame. The band present all of the individual elements that make metalcore worth listening to. Their debut, Isolation, was a welcome jolt to the system, combining digestible technicality with plenty of aggressive riffs to bang your head right off to. Their sophomore release, Conditions, follows this same trajectory, only with more depth and conviction. This is without question the most entertaining and moving metalcore record I’ve heard this year, and should propel the band to greater levels of recognition and respect in the metal community.
If you’re new to the band’s sound, imagine an amalgam of the emotional heft of Buried in Verona with the aggression of As Oceans and you’ll come close to conjuring the sounds present here. But I, Of Helix aren’t attempting to fit perfectly into any predetermined mold. Whether it’s the brilliant mixture of the soaring melody and utterly world destroying guitar tone of opener “The Leper’s Cry” or the almost-deathcore breakdowns of “Timore”, the band throw plenty of curveballs into their metalcore rotation. Let’s be clear, though, this album is on the whole just insanely heavy, and should be a perfect companion to most any hard run or lifting session. That’s heaviness is the backbone of what I, Of Helix are doing here. But to call it there would sell the great work this band is doing short. There is nuance behind this mixture of melody and harrowing, ridiculously massive chugs, elevating the album above most typical fare in the subgenre and highlighting the band’s growing mastery of their sound. “Black | White” exemplifies this juxtaposition well, keeping the music fresh, unpredictable, and seamless throughout. Closer “To Those Who Hear…” slows the whole train down to an emotive, melodic walk that serves as a fitting finale to the diverse elements that came before. It’s a various, well-rounded metalcore record that is a joy to listen to.
While not a perfect album, I, Of Helix have a good formula going. There’s plenty here for the band to build upon to create a lasting and successful career in the metalcore world, and here’s hoping they make it happen. This type of metalcore is exactly what I enjoy listening to, so I’m not opposed to them creating more of it. A quality sophomore record that should propel them into the metalcore spotlight. The album is now available for streaming on Spotify, so get on it.