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Meantime

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Album Review

In 1991, Interscope won a ferocious multi-label bidding war (which according to firsthand accounts, pitted an estimated 18 to 22 different labels against each other) and signed Helmet for a reported cool one-million-plus dollars. Under the watchful eye of the record biz, and on the heels of Nirvana's huge commercial breakthrough, Helmet were curiously touted as the next big thing. Unsurprisingly, expectations would never be fully realized. Arguably one of the most influential and overlooked rock records of the '90s, Meantime threw the rule book out the window. Led by the classically trained Page Hamilton, Helmet's bludgeoning riffs combined with their stop-go-stop-go minimalist attack changed the face of aggro-rock. Its importance cannot be overstated. From the Steve Albini-produced title track through "Role Model," the band is relentless. On "Give It," Hamilton spews "killing hurts/has to be done/peace and love/who's number one," and later "the right to give/learn to bleed/it's free/pain is outside/lift it up to see." As the hypnotic riff and John Stanier's piccolo snare echo throughout, the band thrashes through the song like a ten-ton hammer. Again, every song is colored by Teutonic riffs, with only "Unsung" hinting at a gasp of commercial accessibility.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Meantime, Helmet
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