HELIX – Old School

HELIX - Old School
  • 6/10
    HELIX - Old School - 6/10


Perris Records
Release date: June 14, 2019

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Bands with a long discography may meet low expectations when it releases new material. What more do they have to say? Is it worthy of supplanting time-tested fan favorites? Expectations are even lower when a band publishes previously unreleased tracks. After all, these were deemed unworthy for release, right? For Old School, Helix front man, Brian Vollmer, says he found the tapes while cleaning out a closet. The tapes contained songs written in the 80s for Back For Another Taste; the band’s seventh studio album and the last album on their original Capitol Records contract.

Old School is dedicated to the memory of band guitarist, Paul Hackman, who played on three of the tracks and co-wrote eight. Considered on that level, the album is an audio time capsule of the band in their prime. These cast off songs won’t replace any fan favorites but they retain the charm of the original era. The first three songs “Coming Back With Bigger Guns”, “Whiskey Bent And Hellbound” and “If Tears Could Talk” feature clever lyrics and catchy choruses most bands can’t deliver. Unfortunately, the plodding pace and unenthusiastic delivery are probably what kept these songs closeted. Highlights of the back half of the album include “Games Mother Never Taught You” an up-tempo rocker which comes closest to the band breaking into a sweat. It’s hard not to hear shades of their hit “Rock You” during the chorus. “Hound Dog Howlin’ Blues” is another energized performance which sounds like the band was feeding off crowd energy while performing live.

Brian Vollmer speaks at length of the difficulty of extracting the songs from the source tapes. It’s evident in the vocal heavy mix for most tracks. The quality is so bad for “Cheers”, a piano and vocal ballad, it should have remained unreleased. (Full disclosure: the bit rate of the album copy reviewed did not exceed 162 Kbps)

Approach this album as a snapshot of 80s era Helix. There’s enough good material to wax nostalgic about how bands don’t write music like this anymore. Fans likely won’t find anything to replace Helix favorites, but they may find some complementary companions.


TRACKLIST (Highlights: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9)

  1. Coming Back With Bigger Guns
  2. Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
  3. If Tears Could Talk
  4. Your Turn To Cry
  5. Tie Me Down
  6. Closer
  7. Games Mother Never Taught You
  8. Southern Comfort
  9. Hound Dog Howlin’ Blues
  10. Cheers


Brian Vollmer: lead vocals
Daryl Gray: bass & keyboard programming
Greg “Fritz” Hinz: drums
Kaleb Duck: guitar
Christopher Julke: guitar


  • Zac Halter

    Zac was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. His interest in heavy music began in the 70s with his father’s Johnny Cash albums. After cousins introduced him to Steppenwolf, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, KISS, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Johnny Cash didn’t stand a chance. The 80s were spent in full pursuit of everything Metal: searching for new music at record stores, listening to albums, studying the covers and sleeves, and attending concerts. In the 90s, he preferred Death Metal over Grunge and hosted the Death Metal Juggernaut on WUPX in Marquette, Michigan. It was advertised as the only prime time Death Metal radio show in the country.

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