Writhing in unexpected abdominal agony. Paranoia from abounding, multiple-voiced shrieking. Being speed-of-sound shot into a field of ferocious chrysanthemums and frenetic Criss Angel stunts. All of these things are completely and immeasurably opposite of The Helio Sequence experience. And experience – in life, in concert, in technicolour amazement – cannot prepare you for the staggeringly and stags-roam-free brilliance of two amazing musicians: lead singer/guitarist Brandon Summers and Drum-fill decathlete Benjamin Weikel.
From the first notes of the heart-wrenching lullaby of a lament, “Lately”, legalities become obsolete and like a leopard’s luminous eyes, you are drawn in, shocked and oblivious to the pounce. Questioning your whereabouts and forgetting your name, you are held prisoner during “The Captive Mind” by a clairvoyant call to arms, and as “you tried to leave the past behind,” the band catches those likely to “come back again.” Come back again?! You could never leave. Not as the unrelenting, never-mind-rent-is-pricey drumming of Sir Weikel continues to decimate your ears with eagle-like precision, inhuman energy, and masterful technique. And yes, I just knighted Ben Weikel, and no, I can’t really do that seeing as how I’m neither British, nor the Queen (props Queen E II), but she’s been informed – and she can’t deny it.
At this point, the music marches on, and dazed by a deliberate dare, your lips level apart in time and you gaze upward at 45 degrees and sing 45 pleas of “Hallelujah, we don’t want answers anyway.” Answers are irrelevant and time’s laced with merriment as the music loops and magnifies that a defiant act is defined here and now. I hear a POW. I feel a BLUDGEON – filled with hope, I cope with transcendence in its purest form. The artistic process is winning; the muck and drudgery are spinning – so far into the ground it becomes untraceable to hounds.
Transitioning, I learn to keep my eyes ahead and fall to familiar sounds; The Helio Sequence coming on like you knew they would, but I’m still ill-prepared to deal with the resulting machinations of such a propulsive illusion.
Was it illusion? Was it ethereal? Was it destined? It was cohesion. It was relevance. It happened. It had to…
To isolate “Lately”, “The Captive Mind”, “Hallelujah”, and “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” as the sole standouts of the experience may be accurate, however unfair to the front-to-back magnificence of the rest of the set. “Can’t Say No”, “Shed Your Love”, and “Everyone Knows Everyone” also provided pressurized, pungent whiffs of awesomeness while introducing a Helio Sequence neophyte to some (hidden) gems.
At their core, The Helio Sequence are a band with a seductive spirit, an attention to lyrical detail and song-after-cot-damn song of explosive possibilities. And oh yeah, the singer, Brandon, is knucking-futsish in his tone and delivery while Sir Weikel holds his sticks with a grit so beguiling you’d attest that he’s wiling. He infuses the songs with such a manic detail that they seem alive before inception, as if they were conceived during a fit conniption of a prodigious kind.
Like eating angel cake with Hades, The Helio Sequence are a true confluence of the exponentially unexpected. Sermon: served. Choir: preached to. We all said Hallelujah!
(Originally published May 29th, 2008 on the MuchMusic website)