Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Albums That Changed My Life


"[T]ell us about the five albums that changed your life," says Islander. It sounds like the kind of question an amateur interviewer would ask. Because it's exactly the kind of question most people want the answer to. After I read the original post over at No Clean Singing, my first thought was to whip up a quick list and blast it out there in the comment form. But the question deserves more thought than that.

This isn't, "What are your five favorite albums?" That's pertinent information, yes. But it only tells of current taste. It doesn't tell you anything deeper. But this question asks for your history, your personality, your memories. It invites you to tell a story.

I've already done a thorough explanation of every aspect of my metal history, but how many people are going to read all of that? This breaks it down into something a little more digestible, in chronological order based on when it changed my life.

1. Metallica: Metallica (1991)

8th grade. Sleepover at my friend's house. He wanted me to hear his dad's tape, but he didn't think we were supposed to be listening to it. The first heavy chord of "Enter Sandman" forever changed me from the kind of person who did not care about music in the slightest to the kind of person who would eventually write several album reviews a week. I really can't overstate the impact this had on me. It was the first CD I ever bought, and while I don't hold it in such high regard today, nothing will ever be more significant.

2. Korn: Life Is Peachy (1996)

I was born in 1982, and discovered metal in my teens without guidance from anyone who had ever even heard of Cannibal Corpse. There is a mathematical equation you can run based on those facts, and if you run that equation you find out I grew up on Korn. I purchased this one with my initial Columbia House (or BMG or whatever) that I immediately canceled. The anger, the heaviness, the bizarre sounds of the guitars, and the kind of emotional content that speaks perfectly to a teenage white kid who doesn't have any real problems in life. It led me to listening to the first three Limp Bizkit albums, Spineshank, and plenty more of that ilk.

3. Meshuggah: Destroy Erase Improve (1995)

It's more than a little point of pride for me that I was listening to Meshuggah way back in the 20th century. Never mind that I was listening to a lot of garbage at the same time. Eventually, I became obsessed with this sound, and tried to find something else like it. So, it introduced me to all kinds of Swedish excellence, like At the Gates and Opeth, and that led me to where I am today, running a blog that's focused on extreme metal.

4. Suffocation: Souls to Deny (2004)

You hear a lot of stories of people getting introduced to extreme metal by something that's a more accessible version of the thing. Like Opeth and At the Gates, for instance. But I think there's a big difference between the accessible and the truly extreme. There was a moment in early 2008 when I was listening to this album from the incredibly extreme and not so accessible Suffocation, trying to figure this whole pure death metal thing. I was driving home from work, and hearing this, and it just clicked. I took a detour so I'd have more time to listen. I just got it that day, and I've never looked back.

5. Wovenhand: Consider the Birds (2004)

I almost picked Man's Gin's Smiling Dogs here. To be fair, it (and Cosmo Lee's writings on the subject) led me to Google "dark Americana" and find a messageboard discussion on the topic of trying to find something that resembled Springsteen's Nebraska. But Man's Gin is a side project from a metal guy, and Wovenhand is really the band that opened my musical world beyond just metal. I found that messageboard, saw the name, Youtubed them and listened to the fantastic "Dirty Blue," and ever since I've been chasing that same feeling. Just like when I heard "Enter Sandman" or "Future Breed Machine," it set me on a path of discovery with a lot of disappointment and a few spectacular rewards.


  1. awesome list. i'd probably have to go with
    napalm death-utopia banished
    dead kennedys-give me convenience
    bad brains-rock for light
    sacred reich-independence

  2. 1. Doors - Waiting for the Sun - first record ever bought for me (2nd grade!?!)

    2. Iron Maiden - Somewhere in Time - first maiden I ever bought, myself, when it was first released.

    3. Slayer - reign in blood. Opened every radio show we ever did in college.

    4. Sun Kil Moon - Ghost of the Great Highway - was playing this when my mother in law was passing, while preparing for her funeral. Can't listen to it without crying.

    5. Oasis - What's the Story Morning Glory - me and Mrs. Joanismylover listened to this all the time during law school and during our courtship.