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