Classic Recordings: Massive Attack – Heligoland

Massive Attack – Heligoland

Vinyl Factory/Virgin (Vinyl)

By Paul Rigby

Any new album by Massive Attack is worthy of note and Heligoland is no exception, not least for the additional personalities that always congregate. Amongst the luminaries on this release is Blur’s Damon Albarn, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Portishead’s Adrian Utley plus vocalists Horace Andy and Mazzy Star. This is the band’s fifth studio album and it’s a corker. Their best for years. Okay, it’s been seven since the last one, but you know what I mean. Yes, they continue to utilise their collaborators in a creative manner: never ‘bolt ons’, Massive Attack collaborators always discover something new about themselves when they appear with the Bristol collective, it’s more than that, though. This new Massive Attack album returns to the band’s roots. Maybe it’s the return to the fold of Grant “Daddy G” Marshall – a black man who brings a black soul to the white man, 3D’s, fripperies seen in the last outing 100th Window. That album saw Massive Attack reduced to 3D and 3D alone. Now, Daddy G brings…an extra dimension to the music. So we get dubby bass in Paradise Circus, reflective soul in Saturday Come Slow and a tingling sensation in your tummy with Flat Of The Blade.

Although the album itself is worthy of attention, this limited edition version also deserves some close examination because its production values are top notch. The album arrives on two LPs pressed onto 180gm vinyl but you also get an extra disc, an additional 12 featuring four bonus tracks. For those fond of the digital interpretation, there’s also the CD version for the album included, housed in a black pochette, with a black-glitter coated cover and a 28-page booklet with plenty of new photographs. That lot is featured in a triple gatefold sleeve with a black-glitter coated cover artwork by Robert Del Naja, also known as Massive Attack’s 3D.

There’s an enticing gloom about Heligoland that is fleshed out by hip grinding grooves and a great deal of texture. It’s like getting your fingers stuck into a shag pile carpet, you can almost feel your brain becoming clogged with a close knit conglomeration of forms and structures which means that Heligoland is a great ‘repeat listen’ album. You hear something new in it every time.

Stand-out track: Flat Of The Blade

A complex creation that demands a lot from your hi-fi and forces it to work hard, separating the electronic melange and interwoven bass. A poor system will present an aural blob, a top notch hi-fi will provide a hypnotic, sonic assault.

Stand-out track: Girl I Love You

Bass fans will love the rolling lower frequencies from this track that demands that you move to the beat. A difficult track to remain sitting to, therefore. If your speakers can control this subtly powerful bass signal, you’ll have a find ol’time.


Pray for Rain


Splitting the Atom

Girl I Love You


Flat of the Blade

Paradise Circus

Rush Minute

Saturday Come Slow

Atlas Air

1 Comment

  • moog_man says:

    Vinyl Factory did an excellent job of this ltd ed vinyl release. When it’s this good – both in terms of packaging and pressing (utilising the original EMI 1400 plant in Middlesex) – you don’t mind paying the premium. The mastering really gives the hi-fi a decent workout. And the artwork is given room to breathe on the larger 12×12″ format. It would be too compromised at CD proportions.
    With all that said – and this is obviously a personal response to Heligoland – it would take something really exceptional to supercede the sheer menace of ’98’s astonishing Mezzanine.

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