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