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Like many influential bands, Helmet were born out of an unusual set of influences. Oregon-born guitarist and founder Page Hamilton had actually moved to New York City to study jazz, but found inspiration in the late '80s through post-punk acts Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, and Big Black, and envisioned a group that combined then-unusual tunings (particularly dropped D) with uneven and jazz-like time signatures and harmonies. The result was Helmet, the East Coast's answer to Seattle's then-underground sensation Soundgarden. Hamilton recruited bassist Henry Bogdan from Oregon, along with Australian guitarist Peter Mengede and Florida drummer John Stanier for the group's first incarnation. Helmet's independent label debut EP, Strap It On, showcased the group's raw power -- both instrumentally and in Hamilton's growling vocals -- through tracks like the mocking "Sinatra" and rocking "Bad Mood." Signed to the Interscope label soon thereafter, the same lineup released its breakthrough 1992 CD, Meantime. MTV aired three videos by Helmet, then the only band close to the Seattle grunge sound on the East Coast, in "Give It," "In the Meantime," and the distorted, stop-and-start showcase "Unsung." Hamilton, Bogdan, and Stanier collaborated with Irish rap group House of Pain on "Just Another Victim" for the 1993 film Judgment Night, after Mengede left the band. The popular soundtrack (with its unorthodox mix of rappers and alternative bands like Ice-T and Slayer, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Mudhoney) created even more of a demand for Helmet's next CD. Replacing Mengede with guitarist Rob Echeverria on 1994's Betty, Hamilton crafted an album even more versatile -- and at times even heavier -- than Meantime. The song "Milquetoast" appeared on the soundtrack to the hit film The Crow; Stanier's unrelenting drumming drove tracks like "I Know," and Hamilton's jazz background showed on the cover of Dizzy Gillespie's "Beautiful Love." Yet Betty proved to be a critical success but a commercial failure, its versatility relegating it to the cutout bins. Echeverria left Helmet in the mid-'90s to join Biohazard, and the band bought time to refocus by releasing the Born Annoying collection of B-sides in 1995. Hamilton played all the guitar parts for 1997's Aftertaste -- but his vocals sounded like his heart just wasn't in a group in which he couldn't keep a rhythm guitarist, and the album proved a disappointment. After touring with Orange 9mm's Chris Traynor on guitar and much deliberation, Helmet disbanded in 1999. But the Helmet influence was heard throughout rock, whether by Hamilton's involvement with industrial groups (Nine Inch Nails) or indirectly through metal acts (System of a Down), and even the atonal distortion of rap-rock hybrids such as Korn and Limp Bizkit. Helmet returned in 2004 when Hamilton recruited Traynor and a new rhythm section consisting of drummer John Tempesta (Rob Zombie, Testament) and bassist Frank Bello (Anthrax); signed to Interscope, the group released Size Matters in October of that year. The lineup would change with following albums as well. Drummer Mike Jost and bassist Jeremy Chatelain joined Hamilton and Traynor for 2006’s Monochrome, released on Warcon/Fontana, and guitarist Dan Beeman and drummer Kyle Stevenson rotated in for 2010’s Seeing Eye Dog. ~ Bill Meredith
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Stations Featuring

    '90s Alternative

    '90s Alternative
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Albums by

Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   Unsung
  3.   Wilma's Rainbow
  4.   In the Meantime
  5.   Rollo
  6.   Give It
  7.   Biscuits for Smut
  8.   Milktoast
  9.   Miserable
  10.   Speechless
  11.   Just Another Victim by House of Pain
  12.   Renovation
  13.   Make Room
  14.   Iron Head
  15.   You Borrowed
  16.   Better
  17.   Exactly What You Wanted
  18.   [Untitled Track]
  19.   She's Lost
  20.   See You Dead
  21.   Sinatra
  22.   [Untitled Track]
  23.   Gone
  24.   On Your Way Down
  25.   Throwing Punches
  26.   Clean
  27.   Milquetoast
  28.   Role Model
  29.   He Feels Bad
  30.   Turned Out
  31.   (High) Visibility
  32.   Tic
  33.   Morphing
  34.   Thick
  35.   Flushings
  36.   Smart
  37.   Overrated
  38.   I Know
  39.   Street Crab
  40.   Crisis King
  41.   Blacktop
  42.   Beautiful Love
  43.   Bad Mood
  44.   White City
  45.   So Long
  46.   Seeing Eye Dog
  47.   In Person
  48.   And Your Bird Can Sing
  49.   Pariah
  50.   Goodbye
  51.   410
  52.   Monochrome
  53.   Brand New
  54.   Unwound
  55.   Enemies
  56.   Drug Lord
  57.   Crashing Foreign Cars
  58.   Last Breath
  59.   Speak and Spell
  60.   Surgery
  61.   The Silver Hawaiian
  62.   Symptom of the Universe
  63.   Pure
  64.   No Nicky No
  65.   Impressionable
  66.   Rude
  67.   FBLA
  68.   Live in San Francisco 2006
  69.   Shirley McLaine
  70.   Welcome to Algiers
  71.   LA Water
  72.   Swallowing Everything
  73.   Repetition
  74.   Lord of This World
  75.   Insatiable
  76.   Driving Nowhere
  77.   Sam Hell
  78.   Primitive
  79.   Your Head
  80.   Taken
  81.   Geisha to Go
  82.   Shirley MacLaine
  83.   Rumble
  84.   Born Annoying
  85.   Distracted
  86.   FBLA II
  87.   Disagreeable
  88.   Oven
  89.   Almost Out of Sight
  90.   Money Shot
  91.   Diet Afteraste