…that changed my life. Yeah, I was asked to write a little something something at another board and I figured that seeing as it was quite (but not very) meaty that I might as well Blog it~! So here we are.
This started it all for me. Ten years old, staying in a hostel. Some teenagers put headphones over my ears and I was blasted with the sound of rock. Found out who it was, got it bought. Didn’t belong to parents or a sibling – this was my own album and my first rock album ever. It is also the first album I have ever loved, and one of the two that really changed things for me.
Everywhere I went, for a good year or two, I took my cassette of this and my massive black Aiwa Walkman. That thing was indestructible. Anyway, I can go for months or years without listening to this, but whenever I return to it, I love it as much as I ever did and will always know all the words.
I think it was between this and Megadeth’s Youthanasia in HMV that time. I picked this because it was two discs and featured loads of bands I had only read about. Plus Megadeth were on it anyway. This was very definitely an eye-opener in terms of Metal.
I spent ages not liking most of it. The set was divided thematically between the two discs: Kontemporary Kaos was the modern stuff, which included the likes of Pantera, Sepultura, Biohazard et al. it was too heavy for me, but I liked the Alice In Chains, Wildhearts and Duff McKagan tracks.
The Kerrang! Klassix disc was more what I was into. In fact, what changed my life about this was more the poll Radio 1 and Kerrang! ran in about 1992. that featured some classic rock songs that really educated me. ‘Stargazer’, ‘Stairway To Heaven’, ‘One’, ‘Youth Gone Wild’… and a lot of these found their way to this disc, so it was all good.
Eventually, though, there was a change. Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’ was on this disc. Too heavy for me. However, it was so heavy that my friends and I used to play it just as a ‘wow, this is heavy!’ freak show. Eventually it started to grow on me. Then I got into the heaviness on the more modern disc, and I was transformed into a proper extreme Metal fan…
Neurosis – Through Silver In Blood (1996)
…Which resulted in this. Long story short, I read a 1996 end of year poll. This album was nowhere near the writers’ lists, but was either top or near top of the lists of musicians I loved then (Burton C Bell, Patrick Wiren, Phil Anselmo). Still, I figured it was just a Black Metal album or something, so didn’t bother.
Flash forward to Las Vegas, August 1997. I’m in Tower Records and have bought the Limp Bizkit debut, Pantera live album, Spawn soundtrack and Fear Factory remix album. I have ten bux left and figure I might as well spend it. So I look around for something, and happen upon this album. I remember the recommendations and, thinking the artwork looked interesting, bought it.
Didn’t like it. It was too weird. The first track took too long to kick in. Man, it’s 12 minutes.
Track 2. This is just noises.
What the fuck?
This is taking ages to kick in as well, and made me jump when it did. This is 12 minutes too.
Anyway, we went on a road trip to a log cabin in Utah. Looking down at the eerie front room with its rocking chair from my sleeping position on a ledge over the door, the intro to ‘Aeon’ made sense. It was like the start of a horror film. On the way back, the starkness of ‘Eye’ really resonated when driving past the equally monumental mountains. Dusk drew in and I could see the Vegas cityscape on the horizon. Suddenly the apocalyptic darkness of ‘Aeon’ sounded like the most powerful soundtrack to my life.
Got back and they were bizarrely featured (for the first time ever) in the current issue of Metal Hammer. They were touring, and releasing back catalogue albums I had no idea existed. Saw them on 2 October that year and realised they were my favourite band in the world.
What’s weird is that, unlike pretty much everything else in my collection, this improves with age. The more music I hear, the more amazing I realise this album is. Equally, the more underground and experimental music I hear, rather than diluting the effect of this album, makes me appreciate it all the more.
Metal as a whole was kind of turning me off by this stage. The genre had been reduced to some cartoon parody of its former self, thanks to bands like Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit (half a good album does not a career make) and Static-X. I needed something new to save me.
I had got into OK Computer in 1999, after a couple of years of resisting. Reading an article in Q magazine in September 2000 got me really excited about an experimental dance album from Radiohead.
Around this time I was starting university and as a result was encountering changes on personal, social and aesthetic levels. The album came out at precisely the right time. I bought it on the morning of release (eschewing a lecture for it, which would become a recurring theme in my time in Manchester) and its greatness hit me from the start.
It didn’t sound overly experimental to me; in fact, opener ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ sounded quite 80s. But it was all good, and opened my eyes to the fact that what I had dismissed previously as ‘just dance music’ could be intellectually and emotionally engaging. Cue months of just buying electronic music and HipHop, as it kicked off a phase in my life of checking out any type of music possible, as long as I thought it might be good.
I now have varied taste in music, which covers many genres and decades. While I’m sure that would have happened at some point anyway, this album and the context in which I experienced it facilitated this as a massive and immediate shift in my life.
Probot – Probot (2004) This is not a classic album. It’s not even an especially great album. However, it most definitely affected my listening tastes – and therefore my life – in rather a big way. Years of dismissing most Metal had gone by, and I’d rather listen to Autechre than any Thrash band.
Anyway, I had been reading for years about Dave Grohl’s Metal project. Was kind of interested but not that bothered. Anyway, I had been reading interviews with the man, and his enthusiasm was infectious. I loved the idea of a young Grohl listening to his hardcore and Metal vinyl at home in Virginia, while rocking the Trouble and Corrosion Of Conformity in his beat-up truck.
So I got the album and it just… connected. It rocked, and it was almost as much of a return to the roots (Cavalera, Dorrian, Wino and the boys) for me as it was for him. I loved it. More importantly it kicked off a new appreciation within me for the heavy music.
I changed tack and went totally underground, into the world of Doom and hardcore that Probot reminded me of. My love for Electric Wizard, Khanate, Corrupted, Boris, sunnO)))… even Converge to an extent, can all be traced back to the Probot album getting me back into things.