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With power and intensity to spare, post-punk hard rock trio Hammerhead could as easily have been called "Sledgehammer" (even if a heavy metal outfit from England hadn't beat them to it). Paul Sanders (vocals, guitar), Paul Erickson (vocals, bass), and Jeff Mooridian Jr. (drums) formed the group in Fargo, ND, around 1990, and moved to Minneapolis, MN, just a few years later. Amphetamine Reptile, which is also located in Minneapolis, released all of their recordings. The band has cited Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle as a guiding influence on their loud, dark, rhythmic approach. Others have compared them to everything from hardboiled pulp fiction authors Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, to brain-pounding noise rock units Unsane, Surgery, and Bastro.
Their vinyl debut was 1991's Peep picture disc single (featuring art by ex-Replacement Chris Mars). It was followed by 1992's Load King, a tour-only single issued on gray vinyl, and 1993's live Evil Twin, another tour-only single. Their first full-length was 1993's Ethereal Killer, recorded while they were still located in Fargo. Next came the Evil Twin EP, which featured the four songs from the previous 7", two from the picture disc, and a re-recorded version of "Load King" (and was originally issued as a yellow-vinyl 10"). They had relocated to Minneapolis by the time 1994's Into the Vortex hit the streets. It witnessed the trio moving their driving, minimalist sound in a more focused -- but no less uncompromising -- direction with lyrics taking on greater importance. The Taxi Driver influence was driven home by couplets like, "Someone should clean this dirty world/someone should save the pretty girls" ("All This Is Yours") and "The rain came down/blood soaked the streets" ("Brest"). Many fans -- and Hammerhead's fans only seem to have increased since they called it quits -- consider 1996's Duh, the Big City their crowning achievement. Unfortunately, it was to be their last full-length recording, and was followed by only one more release, the tour-only Earth (I Won't Miss) single. The beginning of the end had already arrived when Sanders left the group in 1995. Other guitarists were enlisted to take his place, but none quite stuck. He went on to form more RAM (which later disbanded), while Erickson (billed as Apollo Liftoff) and Mooridian Jr. formed Vaz. ~ Kathleen C. Fennessy