Most of us became interested in music at a very young age. Some of us (the most talented ones, I guess) go even farther and learn to play an instrument, form a band or become a solo artist and dream of fame and fortune. It's a shame that only a small minority have the chance to be a part of a popular band and tour all over the world while putting bread and butter on the table. This road may be tough and rocky, that's for sure.
Tons of music was probably lying around when we were all kids, being your parents' vinyl albums or your beloved aunt's cassettes or some random music that you liked on the radio, and we fell instantly in love with it.
We here at the shiny ivory tower of The Metal Crypt are always willing to dig a little deeper and we contacted a bunch of musicians and asked what were their favorite and influential bands and albums from their childhoods (a so-called "soundtrack of youth") that eventually took them on a long journey in their career.
This is the eight part... enjoy!
Thanks to Markus Makkonen of Sadistik Forest, Tristan Hernandez of Aggravator, Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ, Michael Stützer of Artillery, Kyle Nesbitt of Ninkharsag, Peso of Necrodeath, Axel "A.J." Julius of Scanner, Daniel Clavet of Soothsayer, Gonçalo Branco, João Martins, Nelson Coelho and Garras of Thrashwall, Luka Matković of Quasarborn, Mark Ruffneck of OZ, Linus Melchiorsen and Marcus Borggren of Viral, Greg May of Tyrant, Howie Bentley of Cauldron Born, Quazarre of Devilish Impressions, Mark Biedermann, Tom Gears, Andy Galeon and Doug Piercy of Blind Illusion, Joseph Michael of Witherfall and Sanctuary, Micke Backelin of Lord Belial, Joey Love of Seizure, George Melios of Rapture (Gre) and Antti Boman of Demilich for their sweet contribution for this eighth part of the series.
ALICE COOPER – Hey Stoopid (1991)
The very first original album I ever bought naturally holds a special place in my heart. This record has lost none of its original appeal and it is still enjoyable from start to finish. "Hey Stoopid", "Love's a Loaded Gun" and "Wind-Up Toy" are among my very favorites from Alice's quite impressive discography, but the highlight of the album is still "Might as Well Be on Mars". What a tune!
This album takes me back in time to the era of "Wayne's World", the dawn of grunge, and the days when rap music arrived in Finland and Oasis were still nobodies. The doors of music had just begun to swing open for me.
METALLICA – Ride the Lightning (1984)
After being introduced to the hard rock of AC/DC, Alice Cooper and ZZ Top, I was then introduced to Iron Maiden and soon after that to punk. After an intensive punk rock period, that today feels much longer than it actually was at the time (it was so significant and things seemed to happen at a much slower pace in the early '90s) I then discovered thrash metal, and especially Metallica. Tunes like "Whiplash", "Metal Militia", "Battery" and "Damage Inc." combined the pace of punk with the heavy metal riffs of Iron Maiden. But the album that became the most important from their impressive early discography was the second one, Ride the Lightning (1984). Songs like "Escape", "Trapped Under Ice", "Fight Fire with Fire", "Creeping Death" and "Ride the Lightning" were a perfect soundtrack to all the angst and frustration of a pissed off teenager. "Feel no pain, but my life ain't easy. I know I'm my best friend..."
MOTÖRHEAD – Overkill (1979)
Being a massive Metallica fan, I also checked out the bands they mentioned in interviews. This way they became maybe the most crucial gateway band of all time in my history with music. Through Metallica's recommendations bands like The Misfits, Danzig, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and – yes – Motörhead, crept into the regular listening rotation. Out of all these, Motörhead's Overkill (1979) became my weapon of choice. It was, and it is, an album I can put on any given day and enjoy it as much as ever. A perfect combo of dirt, punk, rock groove and no fucks given attitude. This is how the word "rock 'n' roll" was explained to yours truly in a most thorough manner.
SEPULTURA – Chaos A.D. (1993)
After thrash metal, the hunger for more extreme music kept growing. Bands like Slayer and Kreator were already a step in a more intense direction, but Sepultura became the most important noisemakers for the teenager I was. Their music was so heavy, so moshable and so undeniably intense and I had not experienced anything like that since the whiplashes of Metallica. When I realized my parents hated Max's vocals, I knew I had found something very special indeed. Haha! Speaking of teenage angst, every time there was an argument at home, I would blast Sepultura from my shitty ghetto blaster. Out of their early discography, Chaos A.D. was to me the heaviest, grooviest, punkiest and all out bad arse record and it remains one of my all-time favorite albums. From here on, it was only a tiny step to be introduced to Morbid Angel and Obituary, the noise the boys in Florida were making, but that is another story...
PARADISE LOST – Draconian Times (1995)
Even if Gothic (1991) is one of my all-time favorites, when it comes to old school death metal albums, I will pick up Draconian Times here. Why? It may be the most listened to single album for me ever. It is the one that has stood the test of time most perfectly and a record that can take me to places with every solemn melody, every vocal line and every sentence written for it. I was the first kid in our school to buy this when it came out and in a world before the internet, people started lining up asking to borrow the album. Even people I did not know before. I met some people who are friends to this day when they came to ask if they could borrow Draconian Times to copy it. One of the top five albums of all times for me and a record I would most certainly take to the cliché drenched solitary island. I would sit on the imaginary beach with a ghetto blaster, listen to Draconian Times and go "fuck the sun!" every time the album has played through. Haha!
Going to give you the top five albums that made me want to be a musician...
To be completely honest I wasn't allowed to listen to much music or even watch MTV as a kid. I got into metal around middle school age and went full force by the time I was in high school. My friends would sneak me heavy metal records and I'd have to hide them and listen to them secretly. Most kids are doing drugs at that age and I'm just trying to sit in my room and listen to Venom. The first album that made me want to play guitar seriously has to be ...and Justice for All (1988) by Metallica. The layers of guitars, the aggression, the epic song arrangements, the feeling of anger and hatred; that album connected with me and it's still my favorite album to this day. The second album that really influenced me would be Old Man's Child's The Pagan Prosperity (1997). My older brother Matt moved back into my house when I was 14 and he played "The Millennium King" on guitar. It was so melodic but super heavy at the same time it made me want to play guitar. I rip off some of those riffs still to this day. In 9th grade a friend of mine asked me if I liked Megadeth. I didn't know who they were, and she looked at my Metallica shirt and was like "really"? She told me to buy Rust in Peace (1990) so I did and holy shit. That album blew me away. One minute into "Holy Wars", I paused it and dragged my younger brother to my room to listen to it. David Ellefson's bass playing has always been a huge influence on me. He is a perfect example of balancing practical playing and then showing off when you need to. Testament blew my mind when I first heard them. The New Order (1988) is such a classic. Skolnick plays lead like a mad man. His style to me is as if Randy Rhoads played in a thrash band. Christian's bass playing is amazing, another influence for me. He is a great bassist. Chucky Billy is probably my favorite thrash vocalist. He can do it all. The foundation of that band is Eric Peterson though. In my opinion, he is the most underrated thrash rhythm guitarist, but he doesn't get the credit. Last but not least, my fifth album is going to be The Misfits' Static Age (1996). They had the melodies and sing-along choruses yet kept the punk rock attitude. You listen to Static Age, and it sounds like half the songs aren't in tune. When I was first learning guitar, I would jam with my friends who were just starting to learn drums and bass. We would play The Misfits because it was the only thing we could play at the time and thinking back, those were some of my favorite times.
CELTIC FROST - Morbid Tales (1984)
I was immediately attracted by Frost's dark atmosphere on this EP. This feeling... this vibe... and this darkness made me do it! ;)
VENOM - Black Metal (1982)
Even 40 years after its release, anytime I listen to this album, it drives me crazy, simple as that. This is the album that defines a whole genre of metal music, i.e., black metal that is!
BATHORY - Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)
I could name ALL Bathory albums as my influences but if I am forced to choose one then I would go for Under the Sign of the Black Mark, a creation that stands for me as one of the darkest and most mystical creations in music history.
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath (1970)
The album that introduced me to metal music. A new horizon had already risen for me. A new path that I've been following faithfully and humble.
IRON MAIDEN - Killers (1981)
The album that forced me to grab the guitar and start tormenting it. A whole new world had shown up for me. Maiden has written some of the most essential guitar melodies ever!
SLADE – Slayed? (1972)
This was the first band I ever saw live and was my first intro to harder music. Noddy Holder is a unique singer and a great musician and composer together with bassist Jim Lea.
Great band that I still hear today. My favorite song is "How D'You Ride."
BLACK SABBATH – Paranoid (1970)
Paranoid was the album that made want to become a guitar player. The riff master Tony Iommi really made me enjoy this album and it was the second album that I bought back in 1973.
So many great songs here. Favorite song is "Hand of Doom."
DEEP PURPLE - Deep Purple in Rock (1970)
What a great classic monster of an album! It had it all; great songs, great musicians and Ritchie Blackmore taught Morten and I a lot about writing music later on. Favorite song is "Hard Lovin' Man."
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD - E Pluribus Funk (1971)
A great groovy band the critics never really liked, but still one of my favorite bands.
They were good musicians and had a really raw sound on this record. So many great songs. Favorite song is "I Come Tumblin'."
JUDAS PRIEST - Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
When I first heard the song Victim of Changes with Rob Halford's voice, I was totally sold. Such a great record with so many great songs and the start of real heavy metal. Awesome record!
Favorite song is "Victim of Changes."
All of these albums still belong to my all-time top 20 albums list.
BATHORY - Blood Fire Death (1988)
From the opening strains of "Odens Ride over Nordland" into the mighty "A Fine Day to Die," you know you are listening to something monumental. The host of war gathers in the gathering twilight for one final night of revelry before a crimson dawn. The ground quakes under the hooves and heels of charging men and beasts and the album truly descends into the absolute carnage of battle with unrelenting pace (til death!); horses and men crushed and entangled into masses of bloody flesh while the dance of death carries on around them. Shields splintered, swords shattered and heads cloven in a sea of red. Arrows fly, bodies of friend and foe pierced and piss blood in an orgy of total death... Until the battle is finally over, and victors stand in both reverence and honor to their fallen. Then we come to the epic title track, "Blood Fire Death". A fitting anthem for the glorious hosts of war!
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning (1984)
Another absolutely essential classic album which is a benchmark of heavy metal. Even though this is a massive album full of amazing choruses and anthems, it is hard not to feel the absolute sorrow and horror of both men on the field of battle and the condemned waiting for the final execution.
For me, this is Metallica at their absolute peak! The production is ice cold, and the song writing is utterly untouchable.
EMPEROR - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997)
Although In the Nightside Eclipse (1994) may be considered a more classic and influential '90s black metal album, Anthems... is my personal favorite out of the two. Much like Bathory's Blood Fire Death, the album is a massive journey into tales of war, sacrifice and a reverence of death. It is hard not to be captivated by the soaring, dual guitar counterpoint harmonies and epic song writing which bespeak of supreme, nocturnal mountain-top sorcery under a slowly emerging starlit sky to torch-lit caverns under hoary mountains wherein grand oaths are sworn.
KING DIAMOND - Abigail (1987)
Another '80s classic! Once again, we have an album resplendent with glorious dual guitars, the masterful drumming of Mikkey Dee and of course, the soaring vocals of The King himself! Musically, it is a masterpiece of storytelling and as the album progresses, you can feel the slowly creeping horror of The Mansion as Abigail gradually starts to take the minds (and lives) of its inhabitants. All wrapped up in a lush production dripping with reverb (with parameters set to 666 according to The King). Total perfection.
MAYHEM - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)
What else is there to say about this masterpiece that has not been said countless times? All know of its legendary troubled production, but the result is the benchmark of Norwegian black metal. Even to this day this album cannot and will never be topped.
SLAYER - Reign in Blood (1986)
The essence of all metal drumming that I love and one of the biggest influences for my band, Necrodeath.
LED ZEPPELIN – I (1969)
The story of rock and the beginning of a way of life.
BLACK SABBATH - (1969 ->)
The beginning of heavy metal and that's about it.
VENOM - Black Metal (1982)
Venom was the first band that influenced me and my other band mates to get Necrodeath started.
EXODUS - Bonded by Blood (1985)
The album's got a bunch of amazing thrash riffs.
STATUS QUO - Live! (1976)
DEEP PURPLE - Made in Japan (1972)
SCORPIONS - Tokyo Tapes (1978)
JUDAS PRIEST - Unleashed in the East (1979)
IRON MAIDEN - Killers (1981)
All of the bands/albums above were main inspirations for my early musical career and their live performances were good stepping stones best to learn from.
Here is my list in no particular order...
MÖTLEY CRÜE - Shout at the Devil (1983)
Trying to do the same stick acrobatics as Tommy Lee got me into drums.
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning (1984)
Thrash metal debut for me. Lars was good on this album. :)
SLAYER - Hell Awaits (1985)
I wanted to be as good as Dave Lombardo after hearing this album and that unique abyssal sound...
ANTHRAX - Fistful of Metal (1984)
Charlie Benante's unique drum playing style is top-notch on this record.
The whole sound of this band was just killer. I used to listen to S.O.D. when I was a journalist back in the '80s.
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace (1990)
It was "love at first listen." I was blown away immediately. All of Dave's intricate and crushing riffs, and of course, without a doubt, all the amazing Marty solos. It's the dream!
MACHINE HEAD - The Blackening (2007)
IMO one of the best albums out there, with bone-crushing intros and amazing bass lines. I was already quite deep into metal when I first heard it, but I still find it to be astonishing.
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning (1984)
I remember my old original cassette that I listened to over and over again. I think the tape ended up wearing out.
RATOS DE PORÃO - Brasil (1989)
This was the album that changed my life. I realized that regardless of the musical style it is possible to have an international message as long as the spirit is there.
A benchmark album for THRASHWALL's own sound.
SEPULTURA - Beneath the Remains (1989)
This is the album that most influenced the band and we want to follow these roots. It's all there; the weight, the speed and the message. The basic ingredients for any old school thrash metal band.
It's really hard for me to tell my early music listening story with just five albums, since there were so many that really had an enormous impact on me, but I managed to pare it down to seven. So, here we go...
GUANO APES – Don't Give Me Names (2000)
This is probably the first rock album I ever listened to. I was 9 years old, and it really blew me away, especially the vocals. I still really love Guano Apes to this day for the way they mix pop and rock with some metal influences.
SLIPKNOT – Slipknot (1999)
I remember thinking to myself, "Am I going astray? Am I becoming a bad person for listening to this?" Haha...! I was 10 years old and my friend's older brother gave me this record. It was the most extreme piece of music I could imagine at the time. What I still really appreciate about this album is the raw expressed energy and the caveman groovy riffs.
DEATH – Human (1991)
I was getting older (I turned 11), and this was the first "real metal" record I listened to. I remember thinking, "I don't want to listen to that commercial stuff anymore, this is the real deal." I remember seeing Death's '80s photos, and they looked super weird, but still super interesting to me. I got really attracted to the riffing, drumming and the sound of this complex album and it opened a new gateway for me.
METALLICA - ...and Justice for All (1988)
After listening to death metal for a while, I discovered Metallica (not your average order of discovering bands, huh?). At the time, the TV was playing "The Memory Remains" video over and over again and I perceived them as a "dad rock" band at first. Then I learned about the old records, and I was blown away. It had everything I liked about metal up until that point, but with actual singing vocals. Also, I loved the sound of the album.
MEGADETH – Killing is my Business... And Business is Good! (1985)
Megadeth came to Belgrade in 2004. I was 14 at the time and I knew that Mustaine had been in Metallica, and that they were kind of similar musically, so I decided to check them out. This record changed me so much. Many people don't realize this because of the production, but this is a really technical album, the riffs and the musicianship are just insane, and the atmosphere was so fierce. I felt Metallica wasn't cutting it for me anymore.
MAYHEM – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)
I liked black metal as a kid, and I loved the atmosphere and the music, but what really got me hooked to this album was the vocals. I remember listening to "Funeral Fog" for the first time (I was 16) and thinking, "OK, this is just another black metal album..." And then Attila's throat singing hit me in the head and I was blown away. One of my favorite vocal performances to this day.
ANTHRAX – Among the Living (1987)
I was already deep into thrash metal and the thrash revival movement was a thing in Serbia when I first heard Among the Living. I was an Anthrax fan before, but I had a thing that I didn't want to saturate myself with too much of the same band, so I would listen to one album of a band per year. It was a weird trip, and so I only heard this record when I was 20. The speed, the grooves, the light-headed atmosphere, the down-to-earth attitude, and the vocals, it completely won me over and cemented Anthrax as my favorite band, which it still is to this day.
I had a lot of albums change me as me as a musician later on in life, and I still discover defining music to this day, but these were probably the most important albums for me when I was a kid.
NAZARETH – Rampant (1974)
The first album that I bought with my own money. The summer work had been done and I visited the big city of Pori with my best friend. There was a record store where you could listen to albums before you bought them. I had money just for one album. I chose Nazareth's Rampant as the first album to listen to. After a few seconds, the case was closed. I bought that album!
And after buying that album, I started listening to the English singing bands from England, the USA and Canada only. And that was not such an easy choice when you lived in Finland in the '70s. So, I can say that this album completely changed the direction of the music I listened to.
LED ZEPPELIN – I (1969)
I listened to this album with my best friend many times. His older brothers had a lot of rock records and we sneaked into their room and listened to their records when they weren't home. Later on, we also played some songs from this album with my band OZ, so this album was an important record for me as a person and also for OZ.
BTO - Not Fragile (1974)
In the beginning, when we started OZ, we were a cover band, and we were looking for songs to play. I remember this album well!
I started OZ with Tani, the first bass player and we sat in his room and listened to this album, and he could play some of the songs with his bass and later we chose the song "Not Fragile" for the OZ playlist. What amazing memories I always get when I listen to this album!
This album was a part of my youth and a part of OZ's history. When we were listening this album at the end of '70s, the band OZ was still only a fantastic dream for me and Tani.
RAINBOW - On Stage (1977)
The first live album I bought, so that's it.
This album was also special to me when I was young and started playing drums. I listened to the beginning of this album several times before I could listen to the whole song "Kill the King". And the Holy Trinity for me then was Rainbow, Cozy Powell and "Kill the King". And "Kill the King" and this whole live album have not lost the splendor for me.
UFO - Strangers in the Night (1979)
UFO live. Just bigger and better as it was in the beginning.
Again, an album that included some songs we played with OZ when we were a cover band. I remember that we were driving my car to Tampere to Epe's Music shop and bought some albums there because we were looking after new songs for OZ's play list and this album was one of those.
The beginning of the record has a great start and in 2013 we did it ourselves. Scream it out loud! Hello Chicago!!
BLACK SABBATH - Master of Reality (1971)
An extremely solid album. The first stoner album ever produced! How cool is that?!
DIO - Holy Diver (1983)
Epic from beginning to end. Extremely well written, and RJD at his very best. We miss him! <3
PORCUPINE TREE - Fear of a Blank Planet (2007)
The darkest and heaviest piece of music from this great band, with Steven Wilson at its helm. A masterpiece!
BO HANSSON - All of them
Because the music is simply magic. Let's just leave it at that!
EXODUS - Tempo of the Damned (2004)
With a ridiculous amount of gain and articulation in tone, it kicked my ass as nothing else had before. Good songs all the way through. Also feeding my love for vocalists sounding a bit different, like Steve Souza or Dave Mustaine.
BLACK SABBATH – Paranoid (1970)
The song Iron Man was the heaviest metal song I'd ever heard growing up. I got the LP and loved the pic of the band inside the gatefold cover and went on to love the whole album. I started taking bass lessons at 16 in 1976. This was the first album I stared learning.
JUDAS PRIEST - Sin after Sin (1977)
I had never heard of the band as a young teenager but when I saw the record in the store, I loved the cover. I went home and put it on and songs like "Sinner", "Starbreaker", and "Dissident Aggressor" pulled me into a great new band and the bass playing on the album was cool.
SCORPIONS - Taken by Force (1977)
Another band I hadn't heard of but the guys on the album cover looked cool. I got the album home and was blown away by Uli Roth's guitar work. Songs like "We'll Burn the Sky", "He's a woman", "The Sails of Charon" and the mind-blowing "Steamrock Fever". Klaus screams "Steamrock fever... in LA!" Really? I was born in Los Angeles and we call it LA. How could this obscure band know about my hometown of LA? Really cool...
UFO - Phenomenon (1974)
When I heard the song "Rock Bottom" it became another song I had to learn on my bass. By the time I heard this album, I was already jamming in garages at house parties. We didn't know a lot of songs, but we could extend the middle lead part for like 30 minutes and I would just ride that Pete Way (R.I.P.) bass riff. Great bass player!
VAN HALEN - Van Halen (1978)
It was 1978 and I was 18yrs old. I'd been watching these guys play backyard parties in my neighborhood for about three years. I always thought Eddie would get discovered. So, when I walked into a music store and heard "Eruption" blasting, I knew who it was and was happy and inspired by our hometown boys making it big on Warner Bro's records. The same label as Black Sabbath who they would go on tour with. My young influences and still my favorites today.
OZZY OSBOURNE - Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
I came to heavy metal through hard rock music like KISS and Ted Nugent. KISS wore off quickly. Ted Nugent was my mainstay as far as a guitar hero, that is until I heard Randy Rhoads' blazing solos on the first Ozzy album. Up until then, I had just fooled around with the guitar, playing some chords and riffs. Randy Rhoads set me on fire to learn to play the guitar.
OZZY OSBOURNE - Diary of a Madman (1981)
I believe this album and Blizzard of Ozz are absolutely essential to learn how to phrase on the guitar in a heavy metal context. These are picture-perfect guitar solos and not a note is wasted. Of course, the songs on both albums are iconic, as well. This is just first class, untouchable metal. I taught guitar full-time for almost thirty years. I can't stand to listen to Blizzard anymore because I've taught most of the songs on it so much. I am still able to spin this one occasionally because it wasn't as popular with students.
BLACK SABBATH - Mob Rules (1981)
After all the Ozzy love on my first two albums listed you may find it odd that Ronnie James Dio is by far my favorite Black Sabbath singer. I love Heaven and Hell, but this album had consistently better songs and was heavier. "Falling off the Edge of the World" may be my favorite Sabbath song of all time.
IRON MAIDEN - The Number of the Beast (1982)
I first got Killers when it came out and already enjoyed Iron Maiden's music. But I was totally blown away by the greatness that is The Number of the Beast. Bruce Dickinson was what this band needed to attain the much-deserved success the band has enjoyed. This album made a huge impression on me, but sadly, because of years teaching guitar I don't care to hear about half the songs on it anymore.
JUDAS PRIEST - Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
Oddly enough, it took me a little while to warm up to this album but once I did, I was in love with it. Iron Maiden was great, but Tipton and Downing's guitar solos blew me away. The title track was pretty aggressive stuff in context of the time, and I would still much rather hear this album over Painkiller. Everything about this album is perfect from the songwriting to the placement of the track order.
METALLICA - Master of Puppets (1986)
Believe it or not, I didn't own any records up until I bumped onto Metallica's Master of Puppets. Yep, you heard me right! It must have been around 1990 when I borrowed a cassette version of it from my then neighbor. CDs weren't there at the time so that was the only existing format. Anyway, as soon as I heard the opening tunes of "Battery" I just immediately fell in love with it. I'd never heard anything like that before. Of course, there was Europe, Bon Jovi, ZZ Top, Dire Straits, you know, these big rock or pop-rock bands that got airplay or whose videos would be played up on the then 2-channel Polish TV station. Yet, even though I liked them a lot, my very first contact with Master... literally changed everything. It was nothing but pure magic! Something that touched me so deep that I can still sense it in a way and shall never forget how it affected the future path I took.
KREATOR - Endless Pain (1985)
This album was the next thing I'd discovered and added to my cassette collection. What shocked me the most was probably the album's aggressiveness. When I played it for the first time I was like, "wow, this one's really fucking evil!" I remember I couldn't actually figure out what was going on here and there for quite a time. I mean, the song structures or melodies weren't that obvious and audible. It took me a while to digest it yet it didn't change the fact I'd crank the volume up to the maximum level and enjoy the record at the same time thinking of how much it was pissing off my neighbors, hahaha!!!"
DEATH - Scream Bloody Gore (1987)
The third addition to my collection was Scream Bloody Gore by Death. Man, that certainly wasn't from this world. So heavy, so brutal! I mean, for a teenager who just started his adventure with music it simply was incomprehensible how someone could create and play such a thing. As with Kreator's Endless Pain, it took me a while to get through yet the more I played it the more addicted or even obsessed I got with it. Despite having other favorites in Death's discography, to me this very record was kind of a portal to the death metal genre. From then on, I started to discover more and more metal bands like Sepultura, Iron Maiden, Sodom, Deicide and so on. Yeah, that's when the snowball started to roll down the hill. I would also say that my fascination with the opening, epic part of "Evil Dead" explains why I'd always put metal bands that have melodies and hooks above those with the speed or technical perfection.
CHRIST AGONY – Unholyunion (1993)
There were dozens of metal albums that followed but since it's a "5-album list" here comes what got me into black metal; Poland's Christ Agony and their debut full-length Unholyunion. I heard their demo tape Epitaph of Christ earlier, but it was Unholyunion I'd become totally obsessed with! I was also digging another Polish band called Taranis, especially their opus magnum Faust (1994) that came out two years later. The creations of these bands opened up a whole new dimension for me and made me start listening to older stuff such as Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost, Bathory, but also to most of what was coming from the then exploding second wave of Norwegian black metal like Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum, Limbonic Art, Arcturus, Old Man's Child, Dimmu Borgir, etc. Generally, the Scandinavian scene impressed me a lot. Sweden's Marduk, Dissection, early Tiamat. Finland's Beherit, Thy Serpent, Impaled Nazarene. Having pointed out particular names, the Greek scene is worth mentioning with bands like Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Nightfall, Austria's Abigor, Switzerland's Samael – all these groups somehow shaped and blackened my musical taste.
EMPEROR - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997)
There can only be one Emperor, so my list is going to be topped with Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. I love every single moment of this record and have been inspired by what they'd come up with on this one for a really long time. Fantastic and I'd say complete black metal album! Of course, I love In the Nightside Eclipse too, same with their further releases yet it was and still is Anthems... that proudly heralds who the throne belongs to.
To my recollection the first album I bought at an early age was The Rolling Stones' Through the Past Darkly - Big Hits Vol. 2 (1969). I would soon become a bassist for about a year. For me "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was so heavy!
After switching to rhythm guitar, I got really into The Beatles and I studied daily in my Junior High Audio/Visual class in my free time listening to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1969) on headphones. That album was, of course, wild in its diversity, and I really loved the fact that they could all sing!
The first album that really made an impact on me at about age 10 was Deep Purple's Made In Japan (1972). It was so much heavier than The Beatles and it really made me want to be in a Band! All the songs were great!
After hearing the 8-track tape Black Sabbath's Paranoid (1970) at age 12, I would no longer listen to anything other than Black Sabbath! Next, I discovered Blue Oyster Cult's Some Enchanted Evening (1978) at age 13. I jammed hours upon hours with Paranoid and Some Enchanted Evening for the next few years.
At around age 14, I discovered Rainbow's Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (1978)! "Gates of Babylon"!!!!! This song introduced to me the Egyptian scale or harmonic minor, if you will, that heavily influenced the guitar solo section of "Death Noise".
Which brings us to Rush's 2112 (1976). After hearing 2112 I began studying all my favorite bands including King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, etc. and finding ways to blend elements of their music with a much heavier approach! Progressive thrash metal if you will...
The first band I got hooked on was Black Sabbath. I loved the heaviness and dark themes. I started jamming with some guitar players who were all in love with Van Halen, which is great but I didn't feel like playing bass lines like "Running with the Devil" all night long. For me Rush Farewell to Kings had amazing bass lines that I wanted to emulate. I would play the record over and over until I could play the songs as proficient as a 14-year-old me could. Powerslave by Iron Maiden had such a cool-looking album cover and Steve Harris was the band leader and main songwriter. That inspired me big time to practice a lot. My favorite song "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was an epic masterpiece. I even named my Iron Maiden tribute band Ancient Mariner. I got turned on to Metallica and we would jam on songs from Kill 'Em All, but I got to see Cliff Burton at the "Day on the Green" in '85 and that blew my mind. His bass at the top of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was incredible. "Creeping Death" was my favorite track from the album. Primus' Frizzle Fry was another great example of a bass player as the band leader and playing bass like no one else! Aggressive and technical playing with funny lyrics; I loved it. One of my early mentors turned me on to King Crimson's Discipline and I couldn't get enough of that math rock insanity. Tony Levin playing the Chapman Stick was so bad ass. Insanely intricate guitar playing by Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp that could drive you to madness. I still listen to this album all the time. I really loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Frank Zappa, too.
Top 5 albums from my youth could be...
When I was younger, my mom was always either playing the piano, teaching students how to play piano, or playing the marimba, and/or singing opera. My mom is the talented musician in our Family, so by the time I heard KISS, I didn't only want to play drums, I wanted to be Peter Criss!
Shortly after that it was All the World's a Stage from Rush on repeat. Learning 2112 (1976) and Fly by Night (1975) made Neil Peart the "Godfather of Metal Drumming" to me.
It was all AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Scorpions, and Iron Maiden, and then it was Motörhead, Mercyful Fate, Venom, and Accept! Restless and Wild set a very high bar for metal and what became thrash metal.
Which brings into the picture D.R.I. and Dead Kennedys, who were way ahead of their time as was FEAR, Bad Brains, MDC, etc.
Heavy metal + punk hardcore = THRASH METAL!!!
The Beatles, Montrose, Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs (1974), Deep Purple - Made in Japan (1972), Humble Pie - Rockin' the Fillmore (1971), Black Sabbath's self-titled (1970), Led Zeppelin's II (1969), III (1970) and IV (1971), The Who - Live at Leeds (1970).
When I was little my parents had all The Beatles records; Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), the White Album (1968), Abbey Road (1969), Let It Be (1970). I learned early on that I liked the harder stuff such as "Paperback Writer", "Glass Onion", and "Helter Skelter".
My friends got me interested in Black Sabbath and Humble Pie, Jimi Hendrix and The Who. Their harder sounds were really exciting to me. We started making cardboard guitars and amp stacks and jumping around.
Later on, we would go on the bus to "Winterland (Arena)" and see all these bands play live. We weren't even teenagers yet, but already hooked on music.
Around this time, I got my first electric guitar, a Gibson Kalamazoo. I learned "Bitch" from The Rolling Stones on it. Then I proceeded to learn all the Black Sabbath records, Montrose, some Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin songs. Then came UFO, Deep Purple, and Robin Trower! This was around 1974. Good times...! Now I was getting into technical players and tone! That's when I got my start! And Marshall stacks! And I started playing in bands...
KING DIAMOND - The Eye (1990)
Dark and melodic, King Diamond stands on his own. I was not into metal outside of Ozzy and Metallica until I heard King Diamond. The Eye has it all. Great songs, original sounding vocals and awesome guitar work.
NEVERMORE – Nevermore (1995)
Obviously, I'm a fan of Warrel Dane (Sanctuary's late founding vocalist) but this album was my first introduction. My co-guitarist Dan Szatko and I used to go to the local mall (Sangertown Square in Utica, NY) and terrorize all the normal kids by singing crazy metal songs at the top of our lungs! A clerk at the music store took a liking to us and would give us cassette tapes with various albums. One day he gave us a tape, which included Iced Earth's Dark Saga and Nevermore's debut... strange coincidence, in hindsight.
SAVATAGE - Dead Winter Dead (1995)
This album featuring Zach Stevens on vocals really grabbed a hold of me during my formative years. My use of vocal rounds and counterpoint lines would not have developed if I had not heard songs like "Not What You See." Savatage are responsible for merging metal and Broadway, and we should all be thankful to them for that.
DREAM THEATER – Awake (1994)
I know that (singer) James Labrie gets a lot of hate from fans and enemies of this band, but I would suggest listening to this album. Labrie is so on point on songs like "Scarred" and "A Mind Beside Itself (Part 2: Voices)." I still use these as practice pieces today before I hit the road. The song "Scarred" is easily my favorite, having first heard it on [KROCK DJ] JRRBLE's progressive show "The Sound and the Fury" during my formative years. Between John Myung's amazing bass intro and the unbelievable section that leads into John Petrucci's guitar solo, showcasing some of the tightest alternate picking I have ever heard this is just chops, pre–Pro Tools, no quantizing 32nd notes here.
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – Trilogy (1986)
This was a lucky score. I was a guitar player back in my early days as a musician. Yngwie really hit a good stride here and the melodic work is stunning. Of course, there are plenty of fireworks, too.
It is not an easy task to list only five albums that made an impact but some of those I can recall right now are below. If you ask me next week, I will probably have another five. It has been too many years since I was a kid.
BLACK SABBATH - Sabotage (1975)
This was the first LP I ever owned, and it sure had a great impact on me. I got this from my parents on my 8th birthday in 1977, I guess. It got me hooked on this kind of music as I was not actually listening to music at all before this.
VENOM - Welcome to Hell (1981)
With this album the interest in more extreme music started to grow in me! I had never heard anything like this before and it was like entering a completely new world! Venom became my favorite band and I also started to play bass guitar, as a lame attempt to be as cool as Cronos. I had no success and (luckily) I really did not like playing the bass.
BATHORY - The Return...... (1985)
Pure evil! Could be the album I have listened to the most times during my life! Still one of the best!
I formed a band with two friends where I played the guitar and did the vocals. We probably sucked hard when we covered the song "The Rite of Darkness".
DEATH - Spiritual Healing (1990)
I was stunned by the complex song writing and the extreme skills of the musicians, so this might be the album that really made me want to be a drummer. I had heard Death before this, but this album was and is so complete!
DARKTHRONE - Soulside Journey (1991)
Really cool drumming and good songs. I really enjoyed their following two or three albums as well, but Soulside Journey has always been their best one for me with no doubt.
All the above bands and albums (and many more of course) has all been a part of forming my life, both as an artist and who I am.
If I had to narrow down the top five albums that I grew up with, and influenced me to become a musician, I think it would go a little something like this...
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace (1990)
Well, to start, Megadeth is the reason I wanted to become a musician in the first place! They are my all-time favorite metal band, and this was the album that helped me get through all the problems in high school. If you found me sitting by myself in the corner of the room with headphones on, I was probably listening to this album. I wish I could thank Dave Mustaine. His music was a friend to me when I didn't really have many. I will always cherish this album.
BLIND GUARDIAN - Tales from the Twilight World (1990)
This album changed my life forever. I remember the morning I heard this album for the first time! It was an early morning (maybe 6:30a.m.?) and I was at my very first day job, opening the carts at the grocery store. I looked at the rising sun, and played the album, and as the sun rose over the horizon, the words "The morning sun of dune! THE MORNING SUN OF DUNE!" echoed in my ears. Ever since, I have been inspired to write fantasy-themed lyrics in all of our band's songs. Now, our band is known for fantasy lyrics and thrash metal music. Thank you, Blind Guardian, you helped us find our place in the metal world.
JUDAS PRIEST - Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
My dad and my older brother got me into metal when I was very young, and our house was FILLED with Judas Priest. This is the album I remember being played the most. Every time I hear it, I become nostalgic for my childhood. It was the perfect album for my dad and older brother to introduce me to metal with.
CANDLEMASS - Nightfall (1987)
Another band that wrote a lot of fantasy lyrics! But Candlemass were different. Unlike Blind Guardian, they had a very distinct aesthetic, and that influenced me greatly. Whenever designing anything for Seizure, I always think, "what would Candlemass have done?" They were a band that KNEW who they were and KNEW how to market themselves. They had an image. They were marketing geniuses. Nightfall is my favorite album by them, and it's the one I grew up with. The first one I heard by them.
CHOPIN - Complete Nocturnes by Brigitte Engerer (2010)
The final album isn't metal, it's romantic era classical music. Why would I put this on my list? Because Chopin's music has had a greater influence on my melodies and harmonies than any metal band ever. He is my inspiration to wake up and write music every morning. Musically, Chopin IS my all-time hero, and Brigitte Engerer wonderfully interprets these dark, brooding pieces of music. For any metal fan who wants to get into classical music, I recommend this album. If it wasn't for Chopin and his music, I wouldn't be writing melodies like I do. I owe him the biggest "thank you" of all.
MORBID ANGEL - Altars of Madness (1989)
So, for us as individuals and as a band, Altars... is a defining moment in regard to our extreme metal indulgence. It came to our lives in early adolescence (around 14 years old) and it's a cornerstone of extreme metal and especially old school death metal. There is no shortage of evidence that Morbid Angel and especially this album had a big influence in our music, composing wise and stylistically, bringing some rare obscurity in our extreme metal palette.
JUDAS PRIEST - Painkiller (1990)
The debate about the best heavy metal band of all time has brought countless hours of heated arguments in our lives, but in fact during the beginning of 1990 Judas Priest is a clear winner by being at the van guard, at the forefront, of heavy metal music with this massive album. There is absolutely no way that we could not be influenced by this album, one of the finest works of art in metal music. Melodically, harmonically, drumming-wise and vocal-wise they are giant steps ahead of their time and we tried to borrow a lot from them.
DISSECTION - Storm of the Lights Bane (1995)
What could we possibly address first about Swedish giants Dissection and their masterpiece Storm of the Lights Bane. Extremely young but extremely mature in their compositions, we were spellbound from the first listen and there are fragments of their music all over our albums if you listen closely. What we got from this band is this rare blend of black metal extremity, poetic symbolism, musical tension and release and emotionally driven melodies that almost give you tears in your eyes.
JIMI HENDRIX - Are You Experienced (1967)
So, for anyone still wondering about the kickstart of this concept of "extreme" music, this is it. Jimi Hendrix with his first album changed forever the way electric guitar would sound. Mitch Mitchell showed us that drums in what we call "rock music" is not just a timekeeper but a leading force driving the music crazy. For us as a band Jimi Hendrix is more of a "spiritual" influence -a prevailing one though- since we are miles apart stylistically, and because his music also came in our lives in a very young age, it's a big reason we do what we do today.
DISCHARGE - Hear Nothing Say Nothing See Nothing (1982)
Finally, the hardcore punk pioneers Discharge with their debut album Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing has had a big impact on our music, not so much in our formative years, but in our most recent years. And our decision to cover their song "Never Again" says a lot we believe.
I remember being drawn into music artistry very early. My first "I want to be like that" experience was when I was around 3-4 years old. I was in a circus with my sister, who hopelessly tried to make me watch the actual show. All I wanted to see was the drummer of the live band performing the background music. The lions were okay, too. An elephant took a dump before the show outside. Didn't love that.
I clearly remember the feeling of it. The will to release power.
Yes, I'm talking about the drummer. Not the elephant.
The first album that hit me, as far as I remember, was Stray Cats' self-titled debut (1981). My brother and I pretended to play the guitars along and jumped around like maniacs. I was easily the better tennis racket musician and showman.
As we know, I didn't start playing rockabilly. I can still clearly remember the feeling of it. The will to perform.
It took decades for the shy kid to become any kind of performer.
The next one I recollect was Dio's Holy Diver (1983) Magnificent playing, structures, ideas, and vocals that still aren't topped by anyone else. Afterwards, Last in Line became more important to me, but Holy Diver started it all, and that cannot be surpassed.
I still couldn't play any instrument then. I just clearly remember the feeling of it. The will to do something majestic.
I had already listened to Iron Maiden, but Powerslave (1984) and especially its opening track, "Aces High", struck me hard. The speed, the little gimmicks, the harmonies, everything! Later, Somewhere in Time crushed Powerslave, and eventually Seventh Son of a Seventh Son became musically the greatest album of all time.
I didn't go the Maiden path, though. It's still easy to clearly remember the feeling of it. The will to show progress.
When I heard Napalm Death's Scum (1987) for the first time, I instantly ran to play it for my friend. I hadn't heard anything equally brutal, raw, M.A.D., sick... I was ecstatic! My friend couldn't care less about the fucking noise.
I clearly remember the feeling of it. The will to do music for people not like him.
The final nail in the coffin was Entombed's Left Hand Path (1990). I understood all these things could be brought together. Melodies, harmonies, gimmicks, rawness, power, joy, hate, lust, sadness... And these guys were only slightly older than I was! I could do it, too!
I so, so clearly remember the feeling of it. The will to reveal myself to the world.
I then tried to copy it all, what I had loved and adored. And I couldn't. Something else got out of me, but that else had formed there only because of the albums I just talked about. Along with dozens of others that didn't fit in the requirement of five albums.
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