54. Helmet, 'Meantime' (1992)
Meantime sliced away the excess of Eighties metal while adding a streetwise, cruelly sardonic edge. By the time of Helmet's second album, guitarist-bandleader Page Hamilton – who had a master's degree in jazz and an association with avant-garde composer Glenn Branca under his belt – was well situated to give the genre a radical facelift. "In the Meantime" featured a towering staccato groove and stun blasts of noise guitar, while minor MTV hit "Unsung" blended a memorable stop-start riff with Hamilton's eerily composed croon. Even on odd-time rhythmic workouts like "Turned Out," a track that finds Hamilton howling out the name of noted VJ Downtown Julie Brown, bassist Henry Bogdan and drummer John Stanier (later of avant-rock luminaries Tomahawk and Battles) powered through with a crisp, borderline-funky drive. Meantime's taut, downtuned signature sound would influence everyone from Pantera to Deftones, Bush and Linkin Park, but Hamilton always seemed uneasy about his status as a genre-bound innovator. "I think it's really destructive to draw lines of snobbery between jazz, classical and rock," he told Guitar World in 1992. "Guitar players should get information from every source possible, whether it's a George Russell or Charlie Parker book, a Bartók string quartet, or a Mötley Crüe album." H.S.