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A HELMET OF GNATS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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A Helmet of Gnats biography
Members:
Chris Fox- Guitar- Berklee College of music. Played briefly with Eddie Jobson (Zappa,UK,Yes)
Mathew Bocchino -Keyboards- Attended Berklee Collegel of music
Mark Conose-Drums-Berklee College of Music and Miami Univeristy
Wayne Zito-Bass-Berklee College of Music

As you can see the members of this band have a great pedigree in music. They bring their assorted talents to the group known as A Helmet of Gnats. As that name suggests music high in energy but balanced in virtuosity. A blend of Jazz with a dash of classical elements underlined by some very good in your face rock.

In 1980 guitarist Chris Fox and keyboardist Mathew Bocchino decided to form a band while in high school. This band was to play the music of such progressive giants as UK, Frank Zappa and Kansas. They called themselves Left Testicle and only played three concerts (small wonder with that name). By 1982 this band had morphed into more of a fusion cover band called "By-Product" doing covers by Return to Forever, Bruford and The Dixie Dregs. Their live shows left everyone wanting more.

The band changed their name to Helmet of Gnats in late 1982. After several line up changes at bass and drums AHoG played mostly Dixie Dregs covers. More Personnel changes left the band without a bass player. They recorded some demos using a Roland midi sequencer for the bass lines but by 1988 they had disbanded.

Chris and Matt reformed in 1990 a more mainstream band with a female vocalist. They called themselves "Doctor Curious" named after the singers gynecologist. After a short time Chris and Matt decided they wanted a return to the instrumental adventurous music they loved. They fired the signer and took back the name Helmet of Gnats. They released a self titled album in 1996 with Nicki Defala on bass and Nicki Vitiello on drums. By 2000 the band had replaced the Nicki's with Wayne Zito on bass and Mark Conese on drums. In 2004 they released their second CD A Helmet Of Gnats II. They tour with this line up to this day.

Fans of fusion such as Return to Forever and Dixie Dregs will enjoy this band. Recommended highly!




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Great band in the fusion style of Return to Forever and Dixie Dregs. Samples can be heard on the bands web site:
http://www.helmetofgnats.com



Discography:
A Helmet of Gnats 1996
A Helmet of Gnats II 2004

A Helmet of Gnats official website

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A HELMET OF GNATS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

A HELMET OF GNATS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 9 ratings
A Helmet Of Gnats
1996
3.86 | 30 ratings
A Helmet Of Gnats II
2004
3.80 | 36 ratings
High street
2010

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A HELMET OF GNATS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 High street by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.80 | 36 ratings

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High street
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Apollo2112

5 stars This is a great album!

I picked this album up at NEARfest this past summer after seeing Helmet of Gnats perform, and I must say that I am thouroughly impressed. What is so great about this album is that the musicianship and songwriting is amazing, BUT it still manages to be accessible and easy to listen to. This is one of my top choices for background music for studying, working out, or even sleeping.

The opener, Tsunami is very rocking, with a good riff and a fun bridge. Tin Whiskers ups the album a notch, featuring some blistering guitar work by Chris Fox. Dozer is my least favorite track (notice I didn't say 'worst'), also the least memorable. Then comes High Street: this 30-min track just blows me away. Some may say that it is too long, but I'd say that it is a perfect length. It included about 15-17 short, 1-3 minute sections with very definite transitions in between. The two sections dealing with the 'Moon Maids' (#6-7) are probably my favorite.

Overall, I'd say this is a very strong fusion album. Where it gets its boost to 5 stars is by being extremely listenable and well-composed.

Rating 5-

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 High street by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.80 | 36 ratings

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High street
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finaly, their last release to date this time with a proper album title named High street, released after another 6 long years in waiting for new music from this fantastic band, I had high expectation from this one and for sure not diseppoints at all. Issued in 2010 at same Ambient Records in digipack format is another one of those progressive/ jazz fusion album that are instant catchy. Featuring only 4 pieces, long ones, one of the them clocking around 30 min, like an epic, this release is no less then a truly blast in this field. The sound remind me of those '70's bands emulated big time in that period, fans of Brand X, Holdsworth later one must check this band because worth every second. Fresh arrangements, stellar interludes between guitar and keyboards, each piec is a truly jam. I prefer the second track of the album Tin Whiskers, some impressive passages and musicianship here, definetly my fav piece together with the enormous and fascinating ending tune High street. Little better in my view then predecesor, who was aswell a great album, is not an easy task to come again with something special. Well, Hemet of Gnats did it again, big time, even are only 4 pieces, the listner is every second conected with the album, remaing in the end to say, wow what a special and dynamic abum I've just listen to, in my case was exactly like that. Very complex music with lot to offer, like previous 2 albums, energic moemnts combined with more mellower ones, each time the music is captivating and full of unexpected turns. I can only recommend this band highly and all 3 albums released by the band, is one of the better band of this filed that needs suport as much as every one can give, they are special and is clear in each album. 4 stars again, excellent stuff.

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 A Helmet Of Gnats II by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.86 | 30 ratings

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A Helmet Of Gnats II
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Helmet of Gnats needed almost 8 years to come with a follow up, well it may seams long time between the first album and this one, but the band manage to came with another sensational release that for sure keeping the flag high in this field. Seftitled II from 2004 in a great digipack format issued at Ambient records and available at cdbaby, the album has all the ingredients of a succesful album, top notch musicianship, instrumental again all, with some fascinating moments. Why this band is so unknown is beyond me, they realy kick ass. The bass player and the drumer from previous album was replaced by another two musicins, but is no problem, all members play as a unit here. Great fusion , remind me in places of Holdsworth kind of arrangemnts, quite lenghty pieces, the technique of the musicians are excellent, each one giving the best they got and is clear that this is another worthy album of this scene that goes rather to unnoticed worldwide. The progressive elements are so well melted with jazz fusion ones that in the end the result is a fascinating trip in a subtle area where the band feel so confortable. All track are simply amazing, no weak moments , only highlights. The keybords , the guitar is where they belong, no note is left aside. 4 stars again for this II selftitles release.

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 A Helmet Of Gnats by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.63 | 9 ratings

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A Helmet Of Gnats
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of those bands that needs a far more attention then has today

Helmet of Gnats originated from USA with 3 albums under their belt even they are formed almost 20 ears ago, but better with less albums and being very solid and intrsting, then many releases with little to offer. Their first album saw the light in 1996 selftitled and is my fav album from them, I have a soft spot for this one from the first time I've heared it. Progressive rock with jazz fusion/rock arrangements, very well excuted, rich in passages, top notch musicianship, what else can a listner ask from them. The pieces are energic, inventive, with some excellent guitar parts, the keyboards are aswell great, groovy bass and a damn good drumer. All album is instrumental , and they have enough room to show us that they mean bussines. Lots of tempo changes, jazz fusion at it best. All tracks have same level, not a weak moment here, and for that matter I can only recommend this band and album, like the next two, because they bring some fresh air in this scene. Quite unpopular among listners and reviewers, Hemet of Gnats needs a far better view in my opinion. 4 stars easy, one hell of a good album.

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 High street by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.80 | 36 ratings

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High street
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you say your a fan of sophisticated music you really need to check out the latest from this American band called A HELMET OF GNATS. All four of these guys received their musical training at the Berklee College Of Music. Chris (guitars) and Matt (keyboards) have been playing together for some 30 years. In fact the albums' title "High Street" is the road that they both grew up on.The garage at Matt's parents house was eventually converted into a rehearsal space then later to a recording studio. So this album is a homage to their seventies youth and the place where the band got started.This was taken from the liner notes by the way. I still think I like the previous album more but I know that will change because everytime I listen to this I like it more. Like I said earlier there is so much sophistication and complexity here that it's going to take time for me to really take this all in, if I ever do. I'm in for the long haul regardless because this is one special album.

"Tsunami" opens with atmosphere then this guitar line comes in and is repeated. Organ 1 1/2 minutes in then guitar.This is repeated then it picks up after 3 minutes. A calm with atmosphere before 4 minutes.The guitar then comes to the fore in a relaxed manner. It kicks in heavier after 8 1/2 minutes before settling back before kicking in late. "Tin Whiskers" features laid back guitar to open. Keyboards, bass and drums join in as it gets fuller. Great sound here. Keyboards are outfront around 2 minutes. Guitar leads 5 minutes in until before 7 1/2 minutes. Some nice guitar work here. I like when it settles down a minute later. It then kicks back in. "Dozer" has this cool sounding intro with atmosphere as sounds come and go. It kicks in after a minute then settles back. The tempo picks up with piano after 2 1/2 minutes. It's heavier 4 minutes in and check out the keyboard work to follow. Guitar leads 7 minutes in until after 9 1/2 minutes.

"High Street" is the over 30 minute closer.They've broken it down into 16 parts in the liner notes beginning with "1970" and ending at "1980" but it's one long suite.You can hear kids laughing to start then piano comes in playing slowly.The music kicks in around 2 1/2 minutes. This is excellent, very fusion-like. Organ before 4 1/2 minutes. It's jazzy before 9 minutes. Lots of piano before 11 1/2 minutes then some brief heavy guitar. More of that after 14 minutes.The tempo picks up 15 1/2 minutes in. An atmospheric calm after 19 minutes.The sound of children playing returns. It kicks back in before 21 minutes then picks up before 24 minutes with organ and drums outfront. Guitar follows. It settles with bass then synths come in.The guitar and synths trade off after 26 minutes. A calm 28 1/2 minutes in and the kids are back to end it. Phew !

Without a doubt one of the best of 2010, these guys should be very proud.

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 High street by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.80 | 36 ratings

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High street
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Third album of this American jazz-rock quartet contains just four long compositions (the last one 30+ minutes long!). From very first sound I was attracted by freshly sounded guitar-led jazz fusion. Really nice opener, even if with few melodic guitar instrumental rock touches.

Unhappily things weren't so good when I continued listening. Second composition still is fusion/instrumental rock mix with some shredding (let say in 50/50 proportion). But even here you can hear that band's musicians have their story in a field of more commercial rock. Still not so bad instrumental though.

Third composition, " Dozer" ,starts with some heavy blues rock guitar chords and continues as heavy rock instrumental with occasional keyboards passages. Still melodic, but only with smell of jazz fusion.

Then, last and longest song is a 30+ minutes monster. With electric piano intro on the very beginning, it combines all elements musicians use in their music in one place. Melodic ,almost symphonic prog sound at the very beginning changes with jazzy keys passages and competent drumming, but soon become melodic, even slightly cheesy fusion. Many will remember Return To forever sound there, but to be honest Corea's team was much more professional. And composition's size is obviously too long - it could be easily divided in few shorter ones.

I like band's melodies and quite jazzy in moments rhythm section, but too many heavy guitar shredding in combination with often too pop-friendly tunes doesn't attract me too much. Still nice American prog fusion album.

My rating is 3+.

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 A Helmet Of Gnats by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.63 | 9 ratings

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A Helmet Of Gnats
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by peskypesky

4 stars This obscure band definitely deserves to be more well-known. This debut album is an energetic and powerful helping of fusion- jazz/prog-funk. On some songs ("Nitefighters", "Ticks in the FIeld", "Geezus Horrendus") they can get pretty hard-rocking, verging on prog-metal. The songwriting is interesting and filled with ear-pleasing riffs, and the band is as tight as you could wish for. There's lots of bass slapping and popping, juicy and melodic guitar solos, crisp and muscular drumming, and washes of gorgeous keyboards. Happily, there are no mediocre vocals to mar the beauty of the music.

At times, they remind me of UK or Bill Bruford's solo albums. There seems to be a bit of a Kansas influence and also tinges of Mahavishnu Orchestra. But for the most part, I'd have to say that Helmet of Gnats is their own band, not pale imitators. This album sounds fresh and inspired and I can definitely recommend it to fans of prog and fusion.

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 A Helmet Of Gnats II by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.86 | 30 ratings

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A Helmet Of Gnats II
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A HELMET OF GNATS are an American all instrumental band who offer up some great Fusion here on their second studio album. I have really enjoyed this album a lot, and while these guys know their instruments very well they also know how to compose a song.These tracks were recorded live in studio on analog equipment. The sound quality here is pristine to say the least. Just a quality release all around.

"Almost Babylon" has a good beat with organ as the guitar comes in. The guitar will come and go until the organ takes the spotlight after 2 minutes. Nice bass 3 1/2 minutes in then some relaxed guitar arrives a minute later. The guitar melodies from earlier are back around 7 minutes. "Chinese Leftovers" has a good solid sound to open as organ, bass, drums and guitar almost pulse together. Then it settles in. I like the guitar and drums that follow as contrasts continue. A change before 3 1/2 minutes as it lightens but not for long. A heavier sound follows. Some soaring guitar before 5 1/2 minutes then the organ takes the lead. The guitar is back ripping it up.

"Yesterday's Brain" opens with keyboards. The guitar and drums become prominant. The sound changes 2 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up. The guitar is crying out 4 1/2 minutes in, and then it takes the lead. "Crumbs" features laid back guitar as the organ floats. When the organ stops the guitar becomes more aggressive with piano. "Lesser Beings" has no melody really as some children come in singing "Ring Around The Rosie". Dark sounds follow. Cool track. "Misfit Toys" is an uptempo track to start. It settles before a minute. Some nice bass lines follow. I like the guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. "Chimps In Space" is my favourite. I just love the sound here. Piano, drums and bass stand out early before it turns intense. The guitar, piano and drums all trade off, then the bass takes a turn before 3 minutes. Guitar comes in over top. Lots of piano after 6 minutes but it's the emotional guitar that follows that does it for me. Amazing tune !

I highly recommend this record for many reasons. A must for fans of Fusion styled music.

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 A Helmet Of Gnats by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.63 | 9 ratings

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A Helmet Of Gnats
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A very interesting US-based band,HELMET OF GNATS' roots can be discovered someyime at the early 80's.The band suffered from numerous line-up changes,different forms and names and they actually started as a DIXIE DREGS tribute band.Having disbanded at the end of the 80's,HELMET OF GNATS regrouped in 1990 with a more stable line-up.This would lead them to their first ever eponymous record in 1996...

''A helmet of Gnats'' is a strong release with various influences,a classic instrumental progressive rock album.Main themes are coming from jazz/fusion bands (mainly DIXIE DREGS) with a pleasant atmosphere dominated by the fusion-like guitar playing,the groovy bass lines and the strong keyboard work.There is also some nice piano parts and the tempos,moods and climates change constantly,you won't find a really boring moment in here.I honestly liked this release a lot despite the lack of originality.Fans of well- executed fusion/progressive rock in the vein of DIXIE DREGS or 4 FRONT will have a great time with this album.3.5 stars...

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 A Helmet Of Gnats II by HELMET OF GNATS, A album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.86 | 30 ratings

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A Helmet Of Gnats II
A Helmet of Gnats Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars A Helmet of Gnats has been around in various incarnations since around 1980, playing music of bands like U.K., Return to Forever, Zappa, Brand X, Happy the Man, Ponty, Focus and the Dixie Dregs along the way. You can hear the amalgamation of these bands in the unique sound of their second eponymous cd...and it is simply SUPERB!

All of the band members attended Berklee College of Music at one point or another, and their pedigrees show up in the flawless chops they exhibit. Guitarist Chris Fox plays some very melodic lines with a sound that reminds me most of Allan Holdsworth and Jeff Beck in many places. Influenced by Rick Wakeman and Eddie Jobson, Matt Bocchino provides a great symphonic rock background to much of this jazz fusion, frequently favoring the organ as his weapon of choice. Bass player Wayne Zito lists Chris Squire as one of his influences, but I hear a lot of fretless bass a la Jaco Pastorius and the like. And drummer Mark Conese is more on the jazz side of drumming (think Bill Bruford and Billy Cobham), but he keeps a strong, confident groove driving these songs as well.

If I could fantasize an all-instrumental supergroup of Beck, Jobson, Squire and Cobham, it would sound like this! They do not disappoint, folks - very energetic and interesting, with original and complex compositions.

The 3-1/2 minute "Lesser Beings" is the only quirky/spacy track that they could have left off the album (and delighted me even more). But the rest of the album is fast-paced, melodic, fusiony, groove-driven, symphonic progressive rock bliss...and gnats a fact ;-)

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Thanks to Garion81 for the artist addition.

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