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Seen as a side project from industrial music gods Skinny Puppy, the short-lived Hilt actually had roots predating the start of that band. Vocalist Al Nelson and multi-instrumentalist cEVIN Key first worked together in Vancouver's early punk scene via the band Illegal Youth in the late '70s. After the group fragmented, Key's path ran through Images in Vogue and then eventually to Skinny Puppy itself. Nelson continued working in more punk-oriented efforts, but began working with Skinny Puppy as well in the role of cinematographer for the band's notorious, harrowing concert films. Nelson and Key resumed musical collaboration here and there, with Key's Skinny Puppy partner Dwayne Goettel joining them, but they weren't able to formally record anything until challenged by the Nettwerk label to record something for very little money. Up for the dare, the trio pulled in longtime Skinny Puppy producer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie for 1990's Call the Ambulance Before I Hurt Myself. Ogilvie brought in some guest performers, including Caterwaul's Betsy Martin and Mark Shaffer. The result, like many other Skinny Puppy-related efforts, had the sound of the main band but some twists and turns of its own. Various singles and a sophomore album in 1991, Journey to the Center of the Bowl, followed, but Hilt eventually faded away as both Key and Goettel concentrated more on Skinny Puppy. Nelson passed away in 2000. ~ Ned Raggett

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