Why wouldn’t this album be an Impact Album around these parts?
Exactly as many of you already know Helix will always be regarded as a band I respect and for those who have no idea what I’m talking about or haven’t heard the story yet.
Well here it goes…
Back in the Spring of 1985 Triumph was headlining across Canada with Helix as openers. I had heard rumblings that this Tour was hitting Thunder Bay which I was psyched about as Triumph’s ‘Thunder 7′ & Helix’s Walkin’ The Razors Edge were on high spins coming off my turntable at the time.
The concert did not happen as our local dump Arena(Fort William Gardens) had hockey booked for that night! Drag right? For sure but as Triumphs Semi’s rolled past the Bay. Helix though put some tickets on sale at our University and made it an all ages show which a bunch of us went to. For that ‘Respect’ as Helix could have kept their Tour bus wheels rolling past and just chugged through.
I reviewed this show a ways back which if you search around the site you will stumble across it.
But lets rewind a little ways back when the boys released 1984’s Walkin’ The Razors Edge.
Tbone was the out of the gate first when he purchased the Major Label Debut of No Rest For The Wicked(1983) on cassette tape which I quickly dubbed for myself back at that time!
No Rest For The Wicked was a solid album with Dirty Dog/Does A Fool Ever Learn/Heavy Metal Love and the fantastic Check Out The Love In Me.
So the trench work had been laid by the No Rest release and come July 1984 Helix unleashes WTRE!
It of course helped that the lead off single Rock You that opens the album led the charge. How about that video with Helix in the rock quarry. Lead Singer Brian Vollmer (Chipped Tooth Included) lays down an exceptional vocal. Guitarist Brent Doerner as well when Brent submerges out of the swimming hole playing his solo while the rest of Helix( Drummer Greg Hinz/Guitarist Paul Hackman(RIP) & Bassist Daryl Gray) lay down the musical law of what may be the most recognizable sing along anthem in the Helix Catalogue. Ok ok I will say it…Gimmie me a ‘R’!
In keeping the fine tradition of keeping albums under 35 minutes Helix manages to bulldoze through Ten Tracks. Two of which are cover songs. The cover songs Gimmie Gimmie Good Lovin’ and Make Me Do Anything You Want are good versions and that was the thing with Helix. They could make cover tunes sound like they had written them. For a further reference point check out the Nazareth Cover of Dream On from 1987’s Wild In The Streets. Helix makes these songs their own and I’m surprised no one has ever said this or has some one?
Backtracking somewhat Side 1 of Razors is strong! Real strong! Following Rock You comes the wicked excellent Young & Wreckless and within milliseconds you realize the guitar fella’s Doerner and Hackman mean business! They blaze power riffs like no ones business throughout this album and that s another point that should not be overlooked.
Funny enough. Helix were the first Canadian Band that I got right into that was a five piece. I just thought of this when I was putting this together as my Can Con listening tastes in the early to 80’s where power trios like Santers/Triumph and Rush. Coney Hatch were a quartet. Helix though a quintet!
Animal House is a great song that keeps the buzz a going on this album. Great solo/Catchy chorus of “This place is an Animal House. Once you’re in you never get out”. Me and Tbone were committed to the Animal House. We weren’t fighting to get out. We were fighting to keep our heads above water man in the Animal House!
Feel The Fire is one of those unheralded Gems in the Helix musical catalogue. A great simple straightforward ahead Rock Track that features some great backing vocals and wicked excellent chorus!
No taking a break here folks as When The Hammer Falls blazes at 100 mph right out of the gate. Vollmer and Crew are right on cue with wrapping up Side 1 with a heavy dose of serious riffage along with big time backing vocals that keeps things on track.
Side 2 begins with Gimmie Gimmie Good Lovin’ which has Helix firing on all four cylinders and for it being a cover tune you would never know as I was 15 at the time of this release.
My Kind of Rock keeps the Helix party rolling. Rolling what you would have to ask them what they were rolling back in 1984 whereas I was rolling out of bed everyday to School at 9 am just trying to pass friggin Math!
Oh Boy here it comes another cover tune yet a ballad to boot. Make Me Do Anything You Want which is an ok track but when I was 15 it was all about When The Hammer Falls and Young and Wreckless! Basically Side 1 was calling me ….not ballads but I get it as Helix was playing the game and that was probably due to the suits wanting some profit. Plus I’m sure when Helix played this song every night the lineup of woman to the tour bus at the end of the show probably was nuts! Yeah. So I do get it!
When I caught Helix live two years ago (2016) they brought back the great Six Strings Nine Lives to there set and it was a welcome return! Once again Helix build momentum on a tune during the verses only to hit the home run come chorus time!
Helix end there 33 minute album with another track with Rock in it(make that a 3 pack of Rock titles at Helix HQ) with a superb end of the album gem You Keep Me Rockin’. Vollmer and the fella’s end the album with what I call a Gem! Love the slow chill guitars at the beginning and viola the song lifts off with Brian needing a rock n roll transfusion. The backing vocals of the Helix clan are top-notch on this track and throughout! Brent and Paul’s guitars as well zip this track into super speed as well. Great move with this song blasting out at the end of the album as it left you wanting more….
Just like that…Album is Done!
Helix had a real good run of material in the 80’s into the 90’s even today there still putting out material and playing shows galore! Added points must be for the fact that they in the roaring 80’s Helix did not rotate members which shows a lot of continuity on the albums that followed.
Helix though were top-notch. Take away the “there from Canada’ tag and they held up against the other Metal Acts especially in the mid 80’s when there were like 1,000,000 bands vying for our attention.
In Brian Vollmer you had a great frontman to go with the vocals. I still remember when he did some crazy ass somersault of the speaker bins at that 1984 University show and not missing a beat! Here I am all these years later still recalling that moment like it happened yesterday!
Paul Hackman and Brent Doerner were right up there on par with all the other two lead guitarists of the era yet never really got there due but they were phenomenal together. Paul is indeed missed!
The Rhythm section of Daryl Gray and Fritz Hinz were top-notch as they held down the bottom end and kept everything in check. Nothing slipped through the cracks with those two guys!
Everything in life does not have to be Rocket Science and its ok now and then to Walk The Razors Edge!