|Formed in February 1996, Spineshank was ensembled from the remains of a previous musical endeavor called "Basic Enigma". That band included future Spineshank members in vocalist Jonny Santos, guitarist Mike Sarkisyan and drummer Tom Decker. Upon hearing Fear Factory's 1995 release Demanufacture, a new bassist in Robert Garcia was recruited, and with a refined musical style, Spineshank was formed.
The band soon befriended Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares. After hearing their demo tape, he offered them to open a show for Fear Factory at a concert held 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. As a result, Spineshank had gathered interest from several record labels. Eventually, the band signed with Roadrunner Records, and released their debut album Strictly Diesel on September 22, 1998. Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell provides vocals on the track "Stain".
Spineshank's second album The Height of Callousness was released on October 10, 2000. Unlike their debut album, The Height of Callousness had a strong industrial metal influence. The band featured at Ozzfest 2001, and toured with such artists as Disturbed, (həd) pe, Orgy and Mudvayne in support of the album's release. The songs "Synthetic" and "New Disease" were released as singles.
The band's third album Self-Destructive Pattern was released on September 9, 2003. The album's lead single "Smothered" was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Metal Performance (2003).
In January 2004, it was reported that Santos had officially quit Spineshank. Drummer Tommy Decker stated that the split was "amicable" and was mainly due to "musical differences". A day after the news was reported, Decker vowed that the band would continue, and on November 7, 2005, they announced that they had found a new vocalist in Brandon Espinoza. Also stated was that they had been working together for five months, and had produced five songs.