So here I am again stranded on a desert Island and despite the fact there is no food electricity or porn, I can have 10 albums with me and this time, I have come up with 10 albums that changed the way I listened to metal; Albums that to me, truly thought outside the blast […]

by Erik T

So here I am again stranded on a desert Island and despite the fact there is no food electricity or porn, I can have 10 albums with me and this time, I have come up with 10 albums that changed the way I listened to metal; Albums that to me, truly thought outside the blast beat. Call it progression, evolution, experimentation or whatever, when these albums rolled around I was stuck in a genre specific rut and these albums opened my eyes to what could be done with metal in or out of the confines of a particular genre and expanded my metal horizons.

Again, this isn’t meant to be a definitive list or a list of greatest albums ever, just a list of albums that at the time, truly expanded my definition of what metal albums could be.

ObituarySlowly We Rot. Roadracer Records, 1989. This is it. This is THE record that changed me forever. While firmly rooted in Manowar, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica as a snotty, mulleted teenager, I stumbled across this LP and its cover at a record shop (remember those?). Out of sheer curiosity I picked it up, took it home and threw it on the ol’ record player. Holy shit. As the opening strains, gurgle and subsequent growl and infernal guitars of “Internal Bleeding” spewed from my speakers, I thought my record player had become possessed. Truth is, I actually turned it off and refused to listen to it for weeks after that, going back to the relative safety of Kings of Metal. Compared to what I was listening to at the time, it was pure musical offal, but a curiosity (you know what they say about that) eventually pulled me back as I bored with soaring vocals, Dungeons and Dragons lyrics and C, D, E chords. I had now discovered death metal and was hooked. Admittedly, by today’s standards, though it holds up very well, it’s a sloppy, vocally ridiculous mess, but it set me on a path that I have never turned from. I feel sorry for kids today who won’t ever be exposed to a truly first of its kind album like Slowly We Rot for the first time and it truly dictate their musical tastes for the rest of their life.

Paradise LostGothic. Peaceville Records, 1991. So, I had discovered death metal and was into it- HARD. Entombed, Dismember, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, anything with an unreadable log and any mention of Satan and I was on it. Lost Paradise, the debut from England’s Paradise Lost was technically my first exposure to slower, doomy style of death metal, and as monstrously heavy and slow record as it was, nothing prepared me for the sophomore effort, Gothic. Arguably the start of so called “Gothic Metal”, Gothic was the first metal album I heard that truly pushed boundaries in what I was expected from death metal; Female vocals? Orchestras? Deep growls I can understand? What the Fuck? But as it turns out “Eternal”, “The Painless”, “Falling Forever” and “Gothic” was my first exposure to such new and brave elements and as it turns out the first exposure of such elements to the rest of the metal world, setting the standard for the likes of My Dying Bride, Anathema and the eventual Doom/Goth movement.

FleuretyMid Tid Skal Komme. Misanthropy Records, 1995.  Though I had dabbled in second wave black metal before 1995 (Emperor, Dimmu, Cradle of Filth, Ancient, etc), I’ll admit I was pretty unimpressed at the time, preferring to mire in death and doom metal. However, when I randomly picked up Fleurety’s eclectic debut, it flipped my opinions of black metal upside down. An album that pushed black metal into bizarre new territories a full two years before Arcturus’s La Masquerade Infernale, Mid Tid Skal Komme was a poetic yet abrasive and full of twists and turns that flew in the face of black metal conventions (bluesy female vocals, extended acoustic segments, progressive riffs structures) resulting in an album that sounds as creative, challenging and unique today as it did 13 years ago.


In The WoodsHEart of the Ages. Misanthropy Records, 1995. Here is another Misanthropy records black metal album that simply ignored black metal conventions. Be it the super high pitched shrieks, shrill guitars, odd ball spacey programming, sprawling 12 minute songs, mournful ambient segues and pagan themes that wasn’t all chain mail and horned helmets but rather a respect and organic love of the nature. It’s like Burzum wandering in the woods smoking a piece pipe and looking through a kaleidoscope full of autumn leaves, early morning mist, crows and evening stars. BTW- what was up with that capital E in the album title?

Bal-SagothA Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria. Cacophonous Records, 1995. Wow, I must have been on a bad place in 1995. Now, I had heard black metal with synths, but when I heard Bal-sagoth’s uber bombastic, over the top synths along with the Robert E Howard/Conan styled themes and imagery I literally lost my shit. I was pretty sure this group of Brits had come directly from Hyborea to my house to pummel me with what was at the time, essentially my most perfect vision of metal. Ever. Admittedly, follow -up Starfire is a better overall album, but with this being the first album and a slightly more guttural vocal approach from the verbose Lord Byron, at the time, Bal Sagoth’s sound was ridiculously over the top and unique. It suited me perfectly.

OpethMy Arms, Your Hearse. Candlelight Records, 1998.  My Arms, Your Hearse was actually my first exposure to Opeth and I subsequently sought out Morningside and Orchid, but considering what I was listening to in 1998 (a lot of Nu metal), MAYH, along with Nile’s debut saved me from myself. Not only was I impressed with the stern vocals, elegant death metal and lengthy songs, but those suave ambient and acoustic segues along with the silky smooth clean vocal were such a dichotomy of textures that it didn’t seem possible for death metal to be this beautiful and artistic. It really took me by surprise. I still think this is Opeth’s finest hour despite some great albums since, but nothing will top “Demon of the Fall” or “When” and nothing showed me the progressive, eloquent side of death metal quite like this album.

HollenthonWith Vilest of Worms to Dwell. Napalm Records, 2001.  The turn of the millennium seemed to be a stagnant time for extreme metal as Cradle of Filth ruled the airwaves and the tail end of Nu metal was churning out endless clones. Death metal seemed lethargic and only a few bands were either delivery something special or something classic, as many bands seemed to by evolving, developing, maturing etc. These were the lean years that pop up labels like Pavement Records were filling the CD racks with drivel. Then along comes a side project from Pungent Stench’s Martin Schirenc and floors me with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung meets death metal. Granted , I had not heard Domnus Mundi yet (though I did shortly after hearing Vilest Worms), and so Vilest Worms was my first exposure to this form of theatrical, orchestral death metal menagerie that graced me stunning tracks like “Calm Before the Storm”, “To Kingdom Come” and “Fire Upon the Blade”. It’s a pity the seven year wait for Opus Magnum was somewhat of a let down….

FinntrollJaktens Tid. Spinefarm Records, 2001.  There are not many albums that I hear and go What is this? I have NEVER heard anything like this before! Such was my response to Finntroll’s second album, a mere 7 years ago. I must be the king of hearing a band for the first time on their second offering, because I had not heard Finntroll’s debut, Midnattens Widunder (which was soon remedied). Like Bal-Sagoth, I thought this album was personally made for me, considering my infatuation with all things Viking, Fantasy and folk themed. The sheer fun factor of the album was only recently matched by Equilibrium’s Saga’s, meaning for 7 years, this album put a huge smile on my face and forever endeared me to polka laden folk silliness.

ArcturusThe Sham Mirrors. Ad Astra, 2002.  . By 2002, I had began this little writing gig, and thus being exposed to something new and refreshing became as difficult as seeing a pair of new and stunning tits if you work at a strip club. Also, despite my metal horizons being expanded by not only the albums in this list, but other ‘outside the box albums’, I was still essentially a growl and blast kinda guy with little desire to hear an album completely rendered with clean vocals. And then I heard Garm’s voice on The Sham Mirrors. Now, I had heard Aspera Hiems Symfonia and had heard Garm’s vocal work in Borknagar, but I missed La Masquerade Infernale so nothing really prepared me for the sublime perfection of The Sham Mirrors. What a magnificent, artistic, sumptuous and importantly, growl/scream free album. If angels sang and played on metal albums -it would be The Sham Mirrors-so smooth, lucid and seeping ever so slightly with creative yet menacing playfulness.

HamartiaTo Play the Part. Goodlife Recordings, 2002.  . I can still remember the day I got the package with this album in it. Ironically, it had Unearth’s Endless EP, (which was my first exposure to them). Folks, you can blame this album for my infatuation with metalcore, as it was the first true metalcore album I ever heard and subsequently got me hooked and searching CD stores and the internet for anything remotely similar. Of Course, Unearth, Shai Hulud, Poison the Well and Prayer For Cleansing (all bands I retroactively searched for) had released albums before Hamartia, but up until I heard To Play the Part, I had never heard of those bands, let alone the word metalcore. The mix of earthy dual Swedish melodies, furious hardcore screams and grooves had me hooked, especially the strains of “So Hard to Find” which made my knees wilt (and still does). So there, blame Hamartia. Or Chris Dick for sending me the album….



  1. Commented by: Travis

    That’s a pretty interesting list. I’ll definitely check out some of the bands listed. Fleutery sounds great from what I’m hearing so far.

    I can say that Opeth definitely opened my ears as to what metal could sound like. I picked up Blackwater Park on a blind purchase and wasn’t prepared for the quiet introduction followed by a blistering progressive riff. The transition between metal and acoustic passages really made it feel like I was on a musical journey.

    Meshuggah was another band that changed the way I listened to metal. I’ve never heard anything like Future Breed Machine or Corridor of Chameleons and that was at a time when nu-metal dominated my CD player. The droning heavy riffs and barking almost monotone vocals just put me in a frenzy.

  2. Commented by: Dan

    Interesting read.
    Thinking about it, my discovery of new genres and subsequent transition from one infatuation to another is too gradual for me to be able to pinpoint single albums or bands.
    I can, however, pinpoint my first and arguably most crucial transition. Somewhere around the age of 15, I was steeped in nu metal shit, worshiping at the alter of Slipknot and their clones. One day I got into a heated debate on the Roadrunner message board with some typical death metal shit-talker over who was the superior artist: Soilwork (hadn’t yet lost all semblance of talent) vs. Slipknot. Now, being something of an open minded person, I picked up ‘Natural Born Chaos’ when it came out a few months later.
    Now, I can’t say it’s a classic album that I listen to still, but shit, the first minute of ‘Follow the Hollow’ blew my mind. They were playing notes I didn’t even know existed on the guitar. It was then that my addiction to melodeath began. Right there and then.

  3. Commented by: Grimulfr

    I picked up Fintroll’s debut on a whim and thought it was pretty cool. I’ve gotten every release since and liked them all.. bet that surprises a lot of you

  4. Commented by: jk666

    I was thinking of a similar list of so-called Gateway albums. The album from each genre or sub-genre that got you into the rest of it. I was not a fan of the Death Metal style vocals until I heard Blackwater Park and then I was just blown away. The same thing goes for Cradle of Filth’s Midian, that just resonated with me or some reason.

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.