Spineshank began in February of 1996, rising from the ashes of a previous band, Basic Enigma (which included future Spineshankers Johnny Santos on vocals, Mike Sarkisyan on guitars, and Tom Decker on drums). Basic Enigma broke up upon hearing Demanufacture, the 1996 release by electro-metallists Fear Factory, but soon re-formed with a different sound and moniker, and a new bassist (Robert Garcia). The band soon befriended Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares, who upon hearing their demo, offered the new band to open a show for F.F. at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles. This led to other coveted opening slots (with such popular acts as Coal Chamber, Snot, Soulfly, Sepultura, and Danzig, among others), and label interest, with Roadrunner eventually signing the band. Their debut, Strictly Diesel, was released in September of 1998, and featured yet another tie-in with their favorite band: Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell sings on the track "Stain." Height of Callousness followed two years later.