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Helmet

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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. After a six-year silence, Helmet reemerged in late 2016 with their eighth album, Dead to the World (earMusic). Produced by Hamilton, it was the first release to feature new bassist Dave Case. ~ Bill Meredith
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Stations Featuring
Helmet

    '90s Alternative

    '90s Alternative
    1 song

Albums by
Helmet

Top Songs by
Helmet

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