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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

    '90s Alternative

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