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 fourth part... enjoy!
Thanks to Ian Greg of Torch, Metallic Kitty of Decadence, Stefan Kauffmann of Witchbound, Dan Lowndes of Cruciamentum, Jason Conde-Houston of Skelator, Thomas Cronin of Celestial Sanctuary, Draakh Kimera and Goth Gorgon of Mörk Gryning, El Rojo of Metal Inquisitor, Fredrik Söderberg of Dawn, Nolan Lewis of Kryptos, Rich Walker of Solstice (UK), Robert "Thord" Granath of Mefisto, Oscar Clorio of Cenotaph, Steve Williams of Power Quest, Patrik Lindgren of Thyrfing, Ben Homberger of Wheel, Freddie "Wolf" Pedersen of Evil, Johnny Hedlund of Unleashed, Luther Beltz of Witchfynde, David Miller of Toxic Ruin and Darren Chaney of Unprovoked for all of their killer contribution for this fourth part of the series.
SWEET - Sweet Fanny Adams (1974)
Sweet had a lot of hits when I was growing up. You could hear songs like "Little Willy" and "Poppa Joe" on the radio all the time. I bought the singles, but I always found the B-sides more interesting since they were usually harder. Gradually Sweet grew harder with songs like "Hell Raiser." When they finally released the first album Sweet Fanny Adams, I was really excited. And boy did I love that album. It sounded nothing like the earlier "bubblegum pop". This was pure hard rock! Great songs, excellent production, and a cover to kill for. Sweet was my entrance ticket to heavier music, and I never looked back. I recently bought it again on vinyl and it still sounds great.
KISS - Alive! (1975)
There was just so much mystery surrounding KISS that you couldn't help but being drawn to them as a young boy. All kinds of crazy rumors were flying around. But when I first heard them, I wasn't really impressed, so I kind of forgot about them. When Alive! Arrived, I was knocked out by the cover, so I thought I would give them a second chance. And from the words "You wanted the best..." I was hooked. Everything fell into place on Alive! I played that album to death! My favorite activity became gathering a couple of friends, putting on KISS makeup and performing to Alive! on tennis rackets.
RUSH - All the World's a Stage (1976)
By that time, I had started playing guitar in a band. I thought that was the coolest thing you could play and didn't really care too much about bass. I loved the first Rush album and immediately bought All the Worlds a Stage. Of course, I loved it. Every song on that album is great and the cover was so cool, but what really caught my attention was the bass! Geddy's sound and playing was magical, and cooler than the guitar playing. This is the album that made me switch from guitar to bass, and I've never regretted it.
VAN HALEN - Van Halen (1978)
I was going to a party at a friend's house. I was excited since he had bought Stained Class by Judas Priest. We had a couple of beers and listened to the album. I really liked it (especially "Exciter"), but then he mentioned he had also bought another record. It was a band called Van Halen, and he had bought it just because of the cover. We put it on and didn't expect too much, but from the opening "Running with the Devil" you knew that it was something special. Then "Eruption" came on and we were fully convinced that it was played on synth, until we realized that it was actually a guitar. Talk about being floored! Van Halen's first album was and still is the ultimate party record! There's no way you can keep calm when the needle hits the record and you hear those blaring Volvo car horns.
JUDAS PRIEST - Unleashed in the East (1979)
I had been a Judas Priest fan since Sad Wings of Destiny, but I always found that the production on their albums lacked "balls" up until Killing Machine. Just as with KISS Alive!, all the pieces fell into place with Unleashed in the East. The versions of the older songs were so much heavier, and the sound was killer. A song like "Genocide" took on a new life. Les Binks' drumming on that album is so cool, and he's still one of my favorite drummers. This is probably the album I've played most times in my life. If someone asks, "What is heavy metal?", I just put on "Victim of Changes" from this album. That's the definition right there!
METALLICA - ...and Justice for All (1988)
Like many others, I was introduced to metal by Metallica. When I heard the song "Master of Puppets" for the first time, I was blown away. As a matter of fact, it still blows me away. It was the song that made me start playing guitar and the rest is my band history. But, if I was to pick one Metallica album, I'd say ... and Justice for All. For me, it has all the elements that I love about thrash and metal as a whole. James Hetfield was in his prime and it keeps inspiring me to this day.
DEATH - The Sound of Perseverance (1998)
I thought that I would always stick to thrash because I could not see anything else that would give me that energy. But then Death came into my life. For me, Chuck Schuldiner is the greatest. He keeps inspiring me over and over and is the reason for me entering the extreme vocal business. When I heard The Sound of Perseverance for the first time, especially the song "Spirit Crusher", I knew where I was headed with music. The melodies mixed with vicious riffs is the ultimate combination for me.
TESTAMENT - The Gathering (1999)
Thrash is closest to my heart and when I heard Chuck Billy's brutal voice for the first time, it fully caught my attention. I thought Metallica was it, but Testament had much to offer and a whole new kind of energy. The Gathering is the album that's stuck in my mind since the early days and is still what pumps me up during my workouts every day. Testament is pure fire, and they keep delivering album after album with that same burning energy.
KREATOR - Violent Revolution (2001)
Kreator is what made me realize Europe knows how to thrash, too. Thrash didn't seem as big over here but when I heard the feisty Mille Petrozza in his melodic mashup with thrash on Violent Revolution and on, I was sold by the first tune.
VADER - Revelations (2002)
When I saw Vader live for the first time on their tour for Revelations, I was stunned. There is such a force in this band, it felt like the music passed through my body when they started blasting. Piotr Wiwczarek's vocals were the most brutal I had ever heard, and I'm very glad I got to experience Doc behind the drums before his passing shortly thereafter. This band is what made dig deeper into death metal.
THE BEATLES - 1962–1966 and 1967–1970 (1973)
Both are so full of wonderful melodies and ideas. I fell in love with them instantly after I saw "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help" on the TV and decided to learn guitar.
RAINBOW - Long Live Rock and Roll (1978)
I was 15 when this came out. Great songs and vocals by R.J. Dio.
SCORPIONS - Tokyo Tapes (1978)
The Scorps were my first big concert, 1979 in Ulm, Germany.
U.F.O. – Strangers in the Night (1979)
Classic songs and Michael Schenker on guitar. The live recordings sound so much better than the studio versions.
IRON MAIDEN - Iron Maiden (1980)
This was unbelievable to me. Very raw sound and punk-influenced, too. The later albums were also classics, but the debut stays the most impressive for me.
It is so difficult to reduce it to just five albums. There are so many other albums and styles I had to leave out. However, these are the ones that stand out in my memory as the most significant parts of my journey to where I am now and made an impression on how I think as a musician. It almost feels sacrilegious to leave out some, but here it is to the best of my abilities!
PINK FLOYD - Wish You Were Here (1975)
I remember checking this one out blindly. The artwork was so intriguing I had to hear it. I had no idea what it would sound like at all, but fortunately, the music was as captivating as the art. These days I am more likely to lean towards Ummagumma and Meddle as favorites from Pink Floyd. However, they are one of the few bands I like every album they have recorded. Oddly, they are still a significant influence on me as a musician. However different the styles we play, their expansive songs and approaches to what an instrument can do, atmospheres, and layering are still always at the forefront of my brain. They also opened up a whole world of music to me. I soon discovered Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, and other bands who remain amongst my favorites today.
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath (1970)
I still remember finding this on a cassette tape with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on the B-side in a dusty box in my parent's attic. In England, the radio at the time was very "rockphobic" despite the urban legends about John Peel bringing metal to the masses. Unless you knew someone to point you in the right direction, the few shows that did play more exciting music were always very late at night. It was not always easy to find or be able to catch them. Hence, I had no idea what to expect other than the mysterious song titles drawing me in. I was genuinely terrified when I heard it, and as with Pink Floyd, it was a genuinely life-changing experience. I had all those sounds in my head that were not fulfilled alone by the progressive rock I was listening to at the time, and Black Sabbath had them. So not only did it introduce me to heavier guitar sounds, but it also helped cement my craving for darker atmospheres and a love for slower paces. Black Sabbath always had a sense of musicianship, ebb and flow, and unpredictability, which appeals to me. Later bands who took influence from them, like the grunge movement and the whole bong doom scene, I find incredibly uninteresting and linear sounding. Despite their influence, I am not sure there has ever been a "Black Sabbath styled band" who comes close to what they did.
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace (1990)
I know this one is a controversial album, but I personally still enjoy it to this day. I stand by Megadeth in their prime, being better songwriters, more consistent and better musicians than Metallica ever were. I bring this up because Megadeth still has that "larger than life" approach to their songs, which Metallica never had. The musicianship is stunning, but like with Rush, they never sound as if they are supposed to be complicated songs or riffs; they are very natural in their flow. So, Rust in Peace is probably the album where the idea that "this is what I want to do" really started to form in my mind. While it is very different from what I do today musically and is a polar opposite in terms of attitude towards how bands should be in marketing and commercialism terms, it ignited a passion for metal guitar and songwriting.
SLAYER - Seasons in the Abyss (1990)
Once again, not my favorite album from Slayer but at the time, it was the first one I could get my hands on, and it completely scared me to death while it tore my head off! Before this, I was not sure it could get any heavier than Iron Maiden and Megadeth, but this showed me I was wrong. At first, it did not make much sense, but I knew I liked it. While it took a little longer to really grow and truly make sense to me, it showed me that some music was worth persevering to get its fullest rewards. In terms of guitar, this album changed the way I looked at it and understood what it was fully capable of.
MORBID ANGEL - Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998)
Speaking of albums that take time to reveal themselves, I think Formulas Fatal to the Flesh still surprises me 23 years later. The perfect blend of musical savagery, technical playing, and complex song structures meet with atmospheric sections and some quite unhinged guitar playing. It took quite some time to sink in. However, again, I persevered because I knew there was something I liked about it despite initially being overwhelmed by it. I still count this as one of my favorite albums from Morbid Angel, neck and neck with Covenant, Altars of Madness, and Abominations of Desolation. It depends on my mood, but it is impossible to choose between them.
Growing up in the late '80s/early '90s there were a lot of great metal albums to stew in and take in a lot of inspiration. But my family did not have much money so my perspective from that era is slightly skewed. I had to depend on whatever people showed me personally or what the radio/MTV showcased for me. So, my list will not be strictly five albums but various formats that made me who I am today.
LED ZEPPELIN - I (1969)
It was in my mom's record collection and it definitely made me want to sing more than any other album in my lifetime. Not just because the songs are staples in rock and roll history but because Robert Plant was belting it out like no one else at that time.
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN - Trial by Fire: Live in Leningrad VHS (1989)
My stepdad rented this from Tower Video back when I was like nine years old. Up to that point, I had only seen concert videos from Pink Floyd and The Who so this was mind-blowing. Obviously, the guitar work is top-notch, but you have Jens Johansson on keys and drunk ass Joe Lynn Turner wearing sunglasses on stage.
The first four METALLICA albums (1983, 1984, 1986, 1988)
Metallica's first four records were the reasons I wanted to dive into heavy metal head on. I started with Justice... and could not stop listening to it. Then my friend Max and I took turns buying each album and we would dub them to cassette for each other. Luckily, I bought all the '80s albums and he bought all the '90s albums.
IRON MAIDEN - Powerslave (1984)
Max went to a garage sale and found a copy on cassette for like a dollar because it had no case. We listened to it together for the first time and we were FLOORED! The guitar harmonies, the galloping bass, the crushing drums and mother fucking Bruce, ACES HIGH!
JUDAS PRIEST - Unleashed in the East (1979)
I bought this and Point of Entry on vinyl at a thrift store for 50¢ a pop. Just the cover alone is just as metal as it gets. But once "Exciter" came on it was over for me. So many legendary versions of those classic '70s tracks. I don't care if it's not a true live album.
Other notable mentions are Beavis and Butthead for showcasing so many wonderful Heavy Metal acts like Grim Reaper, Mercyful Fate and Morbid Angel. Last but not least Rock n' Roll Racing for the SNES featuring midi versions of tracks from bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.
THE CLASH - London Calling (1979)
My Dad is the one who pointed me in the direction of the more sincere side of music and we'd always have his punk albums on, played through some crusty old boom box while we were getting ready for school. The Clash were one of the main ones I remember (that and Stiff Little Fingers' Hanx!)
THE OFFSPRING - Smash (1994) and GREEN DAY -Dookie (1994)
Purely because I remember these albums being new and we listened to them back-to-back, on repeat on a couple of road trips as a kid. I remember seeing the music video for "Come Out and Play" and thinking it was the coolest shit. And Dookie was the first album I ever went out and bought for myself on CD.
METALLICA - Live Shit: Binge & Purge (1993) /...and Justice for All (1988)
This was my introduction to heavy music and there was no going back. Same as most people I think, but it was a friend's older brother saying, "Check this out!" I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He had "One" cranked up on his stereo and the gun shots and shit sounded like they were coming from all angles! Obviously, my immediate reaction was "MAKE ME A METALLICA TAPE!" and that thing literally got worn out. I was always so jealous they had had that cool crate thing that the CDs and VHS came in! Just looked like the coolest fucking thing in the world.
SLIPKNOT - S/T (1999)
What I would consider an introduction into anything extreme. I remember the build up to this album coming out and just being so hyped for it. They played "Spit It Out" on the radio and I only managed to tape the last half of it. But I would listen to it on repeat every day on the school bus, in bed, whilst skating. And then I remember a mate of mine getting this CD the day it came out and just sitting listening to it front to back thinking, "Wooooah... this is INSANE!!." I then saw them at Ozzfest 2001, playing in the daytime. Which is crazy to think now. But yeah -I was just blown away by the energy of it all.
The very first groups we got to hear in extreme music were Napalm Death and Kreator.
We were immediately blown away. When Extreme Aggression (1989, by Kreator) was released and the live video Extreme Aggression Tour 1989/'90 (Live in East-Berlin), we listened to the album and watched the video a lot. That probably made us decide to start playing instruments. At first, we copied riffs from a lot of bands, such as the first Edge of Sanity album and Left Hand Path, trying to play the songs ourselves. We learned a lot from them. Later we got into more occult stuff such as Mercyful Fate, Mayhem, etc., but Them (1988), The Somberlain (1993) and Fire Storm (1990, by Unanimated) were probably starting points when we began to write own music. We liked the development that was happening in the genres and Clandestine is an absolute favorite when it comes to death metal.
METALLICA - Kill 'Em All (1983)
This record completely changed my life! The first song I ever heard from Metallica was "Seek and Destroy". It was on a tape called Metal Mix 1. In the 1980s it was common to give friends tapes of songs you liked yourself, so I asked a buddy who had his own metal albums to record such a mix for me. After listening to "Seek and Destroy" I had to buy the entire record. And what a feeling it was! After the first minute of "The Four Horsemen" I knew how a guitar should sound.
METAL CHURCH - Metal Church (1984)
This is fantastic, just unbelievable! The first two songs are absolute incontestable greats. The power in the universe -"Beyond the Black..."
SAXON - The Eagle Has Landed -Live (1982)
Pure joie de vivre. That is happiness in musical notes. I didn't care at the time if there was overdubbing and that is still my opinion today. After all, music is a form of feeling -it should trigger strong (positive) emotions. Listening to this record, I was always in a good mood, full of energy and confidence -"Never Surrender!"
IRON MAIDEN - Powerslave (1984)
My first Maiden album on vinyl and not on tape, so it enjoys a special status among the Maiden records. I haven't listened to a Maiden record as a whole more often than this one. Something special among all the great works of this band in the '80s.
DEAD KENNEDYS - Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982)
My older brother had a thing for punk music in the early '80s. As is so often the case, one is influenced by one's older siblings. That's how I became aware of Dead Kennedys. The energy of the singing, the voice of Jello Biafra, the unique vibration of this music -great! Goosebumps until today!
SAGA - Images at Twilight (1979)
Saga's second album inspired me to play and listen to music in late 1979–1980. This album is hard to reach and complex musically and it was different from any music I had heard before. The lyrics are great, both composition and feel. This album has everything you wish for in an album. The sound may be dated today but back then this was a big production. If you are into proggy epic rock with keyboards. I highly recommend this album. Ian Crichton is an underrated guitarist.
JUDAS PRIEST - British Steel (1980)
This turned my attention to early metal. On this album Judas Priest put everything together with almost 'hit" pop-rock metal songs. Great feel, performance and sound on this album. As a kid you wanted to learn "Breaking the Law" and I played this album to pieces when I was kid.
OZZY OSBOURNE - Diary of a Madman (1981)
Randy Rhoads really took guitar playing and songwriting in another direction. Great dark pop/rock/metal songs with incredible melodies (credit to Ozzy). Randy Rhoads' and Bob Daisley's tight performance helped make this a great classic album.
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning (1984)
The first Metallica album was great, but this was on another level and combined all the elements of the music I had listened to so far and went beyond. The production on this album was at the time far ahead all other metal bands at the time. Master of Puppets may be a great album but, in my opinion, that album was Ride the Lightning 2.
CELTIC FROST - To Mega Therion (1985)
I bought this album because of the front cover. The music sounded like the front cover. It was a different path than all other metal bands. Great dark atmosphere and classic songs. Early black metal with the correct ingredients. Still evil today and will be to end of time. Total apocalypse.
I spent most of my childhood growing up with albums by Metallica, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Megadeth etc. The first rock/metal albums I ever heard were Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind (1983), Def Leppard's Pyromania (1983) and AC/DC's The Razor's Edge (1990), back in 1991.
Five albums that influenced me heavily and shaped my outlook on life and played a major role in me becoming a musician were:
JUDAS PRIEST - Defenders of the Faith (1984)
This is the album that made me want to play guitar and just rock the fuck out.
IRON MAIDEN - Piece of Mind (1983)
This album really stretched my imagination musically and also influenced me as a lyricist.
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning (1984)
Although MoP is my favorite Metallica album, Ride... showed me that metal had no boundaries. You could play superfast thrashers and emotive ballads and still be metal as fuck. It's all about conviction and attitude.
EUROPE - Wings of Tomorrow (1984)
John Norum's guitar playing on this album is outrageous and although I'm not much of a lead player, the melodies, tone, atmosphere and fluidity of his solos really made an impression on me. The entire album contains some fantastic songwriting and really catchy hooks, which is something we try to focus on as a band.
BLACK SABBATH - Tyr (1990)
One of my all-time favorite Sabbath albums and a huge influence on me as a rhythm player, especially when it comes to crunching, powerful riffs that are simple yet full of substance. Not to mention this album also fueled my love for epic heavy metal.
SEX PISTOLS - Never Mind the Bollocks (1977)
It's hard not to be inspired by this record when you are at a young and impressionable age. It has everything that the mysterious and distant "adult" world hates, it is anti-authoritarian, questioning everything and challenging every accepted norm at that time. Despite falling in love with earlier bands like The Sweet, the Pistols were much more, larger-than-life, shall we say for me. The songs are a total powerhouse in delivery, and the vocals are dripping with scorn. Although it may be minimalistic compared with say, Fates Warning, this is a rock album in every sense. Dangerous, as rebellious music should be, made by working-class kids who not only looked great, but sounded even better.
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath (1970)
It would be unimaginable for me to envisage a youth without this record, its enthralling album sleeve, and huge monstrous wall of sound, with riffs that surpassed the standard set on the periodic table of heaviness of the time and are simply unmatched even today. Only the first albums by Candlemass and Saint Vitus come close. It's worth pointing out that in my mind, the combination of the four musicians involved make it what it is, a perfect example of how individually each were great, but together they were unstoppable. My personal highlight is Bill Ward's drum playing, best fucking drummer ever, in my opinion.
DISCHARGE - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (1982)
Combining inspiration from Black Sabbath and the Pistols, putting it through a blender and turning out something so savage and uncompromising in 27 minutes is a work of alchemical genius. Like the Pistols and Sabbath, another band where individually each member is talented, but together results are explosive. And again, like Sabbath and the Pistols, the band looked fucking great. Fourteen songs that are simply unrelenting in their all-out barrage upon the senses. There is no better release for a total adrenalin rush and stoking the fires of anger.
VENOM - At War with Satan (1984)
My favorite Venom LP, evil riff after evil riff and nigh on perfect in every sense from the packaging to the lyrics to the musicianship. The title track is probably one of the greatest songs ever recorded. Some people may say one of the first two, but I disagree. I would point to this album because it's where they finally hit their stride in terms of song writing, production and ambition. I spent many happy hours as a 15-year-old playing this simply crushing platter. I couldn't live without it.
BATHORY - Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)
What happens when one lone Swede decides to take Venom, Discharge, Black Sabbath and the Pistols and put THEM through a blender. Well, the resulting mix is Bathory's third album, and like Venom, he hit his stride here. It's almost impossible to describe in words, to articulate the sheer scale of the suffocating dread and horror carved into the vinyl. There has been nothing like it since, of course, many have tried, but none have come close. I never liked death metal post the first Obituary LP, it became too complex, convoluted and up its own arse. And make no mistake, this album is DEATH metal in every sense. Just turn it up and feel the hate.
Five albums I grew up with and that influenced me...
The first album I ever got was as a six-year-old kid back in 1976. It was Sweet's Desolation Boulevard (1974) with the hit "Fox on the Run". Later that year I also got the KISS' Alive! (1975) album and then I was stuck. I fell completely in love and the next 4-5 years KISS was everything to me. All their albums until 1980 meant a lot to me and were big inspirations.
As a 10-year-old, I discovered AC/DC. I remember listening to a live album, titled If You Want Blood, You Got It (1976) over and over again. It was much rawer than KISS and had all those killer riffs.
In 1980, I discovered the NWOBHM. I especially fell in love with Saxon. We were a bunch of kids who became obsessed by Saxon. I remember listening to the album Wheels of Steel (1980). All the songs were super cool, heavy and the guitar riffs were just wonderful. Every song on that album became a hit in my mind.
Last but not least, in 1981 I was 11 years old and heard Venom, Welcome to Hell for the first time. That was the heaviest, darkest, scariest moment in my music experience. It was like punk rock on steroids but with a satanic message. It has a forbidden feel to it...
If we go straight to my childhood, I could say I grew up with bands like Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Saxon, Iron Maiden and the great Black Sabbath.
Then I started listening to bands like Metallica, Helloween, Nuclear Assault, Artillery, Exumer, Sacrifice, Infernäl Mäjesty, Rage, Mekong Delta and more.
In my teens I got deep into death metal and the bands that I grew up with and continue to follow from the very beginning are mainly Finnish and Swedish death metal bands like Demigod, Demilich, Xysma, Funebre, Disgrace, Sentenced, Amorphis, Gorement, Nihilist, Entombed, Dismember, Carnage, At the Gates, also bands like Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Prophecy of Doom, and some from the United States like Immolation, Morbid, Angel, Obituary, Nocturnus, Master, Death, etc.
Haha, I think I am a bit long in my testimony.
But to answer your question. The five albums that really influenced me heavily in my youth could well be the albums below:
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath (1970)
SAXON - Wheels of Steel (1980)
DEF LEPPARD - High 'n' Dry (1981)
IRON MAIDEN - Iron Maiden (1980)
JUDAS PRIEST - British Steel (1980)
I think it was something that happened logically for me, like I already had it in my DNA. When I started playing drums at the age of 17, trying to follow some examples of the bands that I liked most at that time, I was already very much into thrash and the first wave of death metal.
I guess the first metal album I properly heard has to be the first record I mention as it was like nothing I had heard before. It was 1981 and I was 10 years old. A friend of mine had an older brother who had this cool rucksack with patches on it. I didn't know they were bands to start with but eventually he told us about April Wine, Spider, Saxon, Iron Maiden and Motörhead! It was Motörhead's Overkill (1979) album that I'm talking about here. I was blown away by the logo and the album cover and then, once the record started, the amazing drums of the title track. It was all so exciting and like nothing I had heard before. It was the beginning of it all for me.
The next one I have to mention is the first Iron Maiden record with Bruce Dickinson, namely The Number of the Beast (1982). Where it had been the power and aggression that had got me into Motörhead, here it was the harmony guitars, great melodies and soaring vocals. I even love "Invaders" on this record which I know isn't a favorite of the band. As an 11-year-old boy, this record was probably the first one that made me start thinking that maybe someday I could make a record too.
Something more hard rock than metal for my next choice. This time we look to America and one of my favorite hard rock bands of all time, Van Halen. I'm going to choose the first album with Sammy Hagar, 5150 (1986). I was never much of a David Lee Roth fan, but Sammy was the man for me, and his vocals combined with the keyboards were what made this record stand out for me. It showed me you could have big synths in hard rock (and metal). :-)
Fourth choice is again not a metal album but it's a record from one of my favorite bands of all time, who have been a big influence on me over the years. The band is Marillion and the album is Clutching at Straws (1987). The last record before the split with Fish was quite a dark affair but again the way the keyboards built the atmospheres to be the backdrop to the depressive inner soul-searching in the lyrics was just awesome. I remember listening to this three times in a row without a break. That's how mesmerized I was by the whole thing.
Finally, and I'm a bit torn here so I'll sit on the fence a little bit. It'll come as no surprise that I'm going to mention Helloween as they've been a huge influence over the years, and it was a real thrill to tour with those guys back in 2006 after importing their albums in some cases back in the mid '80s. Here I'm going to choose the two Keeper of the Seven Keys (1987 and 1988) albums as it's pretty impossible for me to separate them in terms of influence. The arrival of Michael Kiske took that feeling I'd had when first hearing Maiden to a whole new level of catchy, speed(y) metal and there's no doubt that these guys are the founders of the thing that we call power metal.
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning (1984)
This was the first album I bought that somewhat hinted to the world of "extreme metal," obviously floored by the sheer brutality of the opening guitar riff of "Fight Fire with Fire" (both sound and playing!) So yeah, even though it's a very dynamic and varied album and not only a thrash album it was probably the first gateway to "extreme" music for me.
BATHORY - Hammerheart (1990)
Hearing this for the first time was certainly an experience and probably the first time I got a true "larger-than-life" feeling from rock music. The album simply sounds like the cover art looks. Sometimes that is said as a cliché, but for this one it's the truth. The concept and the feelings this album convey are probably the strongest influences on me when forming our band in the coming years.
BOLT THROWER - The IVth Crusade (1992)
This was one of the first death metal albums I bought if I remember correctly, and while I have later found things in this genre that are certainly more refined, dynamic and have more edge, this album – and especially the title track – is still a guiding light on how far you can go with simple things if the flow and feeling are right.
ENSLAVED - Frost (1994)
This one surely made its mark on us when it came out, just before we took our first stumbling steps with the band. Not only did it have the blast beasts and the screaming vocals from the death and black metal scene, but also incorporated the chilly atmosphere and sound from the epic Bathory albums, plus the electronics and keyboard parts. Probably influenced us more than we knew at the time.
STORM - Nordavind (1995)
I know this album is not seen with keen eyes by the members nowadays, but when we started out this folk/trad/metal project made a big impact. This simple but groovy, while still grim, type of guitar playing has played a big part on the genre and music that we are a part of.
In no specific order...
IRON MAIDEN - Live After Death (1985)
My first self-bought metal CD and my introduction to Maiden. I remember staring at the booklet for hours... so many great photos... and the music speaks for itself.
SODOM - Persecution Mania (1987)
The first thrash record that blew my mind. My parents were concerned because of the cover. They thought it was politically dangerous or something...
Transformers The Movie (Original soundtrack) (1986)
Not to be confused with the Michael Bay flicks! This one is the animated '80s movie and has a badass soundtrack. I hooked up our VCR to a tape deck to capture the soundtrack snippets back then. That was before I knew it was metal.
I think three are enough. These are the ones that pop to my mind first and are most important from when I was young.
It was Bachmann-Turner Overdrive's Not Fragile (1974) and Sweet Fanny Adams (1974) by Sweet for the guitars. Judas Priest's British Steel (1980) and Saxon's Denim and Leather (1981) that appealed me a lot in my teenager years. I also liked Boston more than just because the feeling they gave me. I pretty much liked all the songs because of the guitars in this band. All of their albums have good melodic choruses, too."
Here are some of my early favorites, in no particular order:
AC/DC - Back in Black (1980)
SLAYER - Reign in Blood (1986)
MOTÖRHEAD - Ace of Spades (1980)
VENOM - Black Metal (1982)
JUDAS PRIEST - British Steel (1980)
I'd say the live performances by those artists were a good influence. The recordings of these albums have one thing in common. There are many, many songs that are extremely memorable. Easy to sing along to and bang your head to. To me, this made all the difference back then and still does.
DEEP PURPLE - Made in Japan (1972)
I loved Gillan's vocals on this.
SLADE - Alive! (1972)
Noddy Holder's powerhouse voice.
JOE COCKER - Mad Dogs & English Men (1970)
Joe Cocker's awesome blues delivery and crazy stage persona.
NAZARETH - Razamanaz (1973)
The man Dan McCafferty. Vocals are so easy for this guy.
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath (1970)
It's Ozzy, 'nuff said.
TED NUGENT - Cat Scratch Fever (1977)
My father was a huge fan of Uncle Ted which led to me adopting the love for his sweet, bluesy licks, and his shreddy leads. As a young kid I would set up makeshift drum kits out of buckets, pots, you name it, and jam along to all of Ted's hits, including those Damn Yankees! But the original Cat Scratch... album stuck with me the most. I think, without Ted or my dad, I would probably be one of those country music losers!
METALLICA - ...and Justice for All (1988)
I felt this album is what started to truly get me into heavier, more technical music. I had been listening to all of Metallica's material since birth, basically, but around the age of 10 the raw speed and aggression that Metallica showed on Justice seemed to strike a chord and made me crave "faster" and "heavier."
SLIPKNOT - Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (2004)
I was never big into most nu metal, but I remember being about 12 years old and seeing the music video for "Duality" on Headbangers Ball, and thinking, "this is fucking it right here!" Within the next couple days, I bought the album and it didn't leave my CD player for a year or two after that. I was hooked. I still think Vol. 3 is some of Slipknot's better material, and even though I've moved on to many other styles and bands, hearing one of these songs definitely brings on the nostalgia of my degenerate youth!
LAMB OF GOD - Sacrament (2006)
This album was on heavy rotation in my teenage years. This was right around the time that I was also drumming several hours every day and practicing to the tracks on Sacrament really busted my chops. Much of my early double bass playing can be attributed to sitting behind my kit at 15 years old and getting pissed at myself for fucking up "Walk with Me in Hell" for the 42nd time in a row.
REVOCATION - Deathless (2014)
I discovered Revocation right around the time they released Chaos of Forms and was hooked instantly. Their perfect mixture of thrash and death metal was right up my alley. I've never been disappointed by anything they have released, but when the Deathless record was put out in 2014, I was absolutely blown away. It's still one of my go-tos, and every track on the album gets me pumped. The musical journey taken at the ending guitar solo of "Witch Trials" alone is pure magic! When listening to an album front to back gives you goosebumps entirely because of musical progression and epic riffing, you know you have a winner.
KISS - Destroyer (1976)
I grew up in a country western household. It wasn't until second grade when I went into the third-graders' room at recess that I heard something amazingly moving. I was like, "this ain't no country." Then when my eyes feasted on the album cover, I knew my musical taste had changed.
MERCYFUL FATE - Melissa (1983)
I became a huge KISS fan through the rest of the '70s and early '80s. KISS went soft, and I always liked their heavier songs, so it was time to give up the makeup and find something new.
Well, it ended up I didn't quite get rid of the makeup. This album just kind of fell into my lap. I had never even heard of them before. Probably still one of the most amazing albums ever created.
D.R.I. - Dealing with It! (1985)
My life of heavy was just starting out. My brother was a big punk rocker. I went to see some amazing bands in the early '80s. Dr. Know, Verbal Abuse and the mighty D.R.I.!
Dealing with It! is an amazing album of hardcore fast punk parallel with metal. Easy to see how they led the crossover movement.
EXODUS - Bonded by Blood (1985)
I listened to Slayer and a bit of Metallica and other heavies at that time but then I found the magnum opus.
The riffs and drum work are so brutal, and they dug claws into my soul. My life was changed forever. I am still loving the aggression of punk and the heavy thumping of metal since I found this gem.
CRUMBSUCKERS - Life of Dreams (1986)
Life... was amazing growing up in the '80s. There are so many good bands I could sit here and talk about forever. Thrash metal and crossover will forever remain in my blood. Forty years later and nothing has changed.
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