Slacker Logo



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
Read More Read Less

Stations Featuring

    '90s Alternative

    '90s Alternative
    1 song

Albums by

Top Songs by

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