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