Notion of ControlBird Attack Records
By Cole Faulkner
The Oxford dictionary defines helter-skelter as performing an action “In disorderly haste or confusion.” Denver technical punk and melodic hardcore act Allout Helter adheres to the literary meaning of its namesake. Cut from the same cloth as A Wilhelm Scream, Propadandhi, and Samuel Caldwell’s Revenge the ever-intense quintet are obviously influenced from the technical-punk uprising of the mid 00’s. If their debut full length, Sinking, We Regress, demonstrated anything, it’s that Allout Helter is absolutely unyielding in their mission. Now offering their second full length, Notion of Control, the band further surrenders themselves to an ongoing descent into the technical melodic abyss.
Born from a swirling sonic mass of tangled guitars and breakneck drumming, Allout Helter pummels listeners with wave after wave of crunching riffs and shredded vocals. “A Thief in the Night” opens the album with a focus on the raw, sludgy vocals of Ross Hostage. “Losing patience, losing sleep, losing sight of what matters to me” he belts unforgivingly of a reality slipping from view against a backdrop of increasing speed and franticness. Guitarists Fred Bear and Ryan Tate dual with a fury of solos and riffs that really pick up a track later on “Darold Janzen Will Have His Revenge.” Quite frankly, these high flying moments are Notion of Control’s front and centre highlights, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Other tracks, like “Maximum Helter,” and first and foremost hardcore bashers, chock full of technical solos and intense punk breakdowns. Lyrically, “Anthropocene” echoes this sentiment as Ross belts “This adventure is getting perilous, I think I’d like to turn back now,” to which Bear and Tate’s backing vocals respond, “it’s too late, too late.” As is clear every step of the way, listeners will find no safety or reprieve through Notion of Control.
Overall, Notion of Control makes for a fine addition to the technical punk scene. While the disc could benefit from some slight tweaks to pacing and variety, it definitely achieves at setting out what it aims to accomplish: track after track of intense technical melodic hardcore-punk. An natural choice for fans of Propagandhi and A Wilhelm Scream.