Black Sabbath — Black Sabbath
This one is obvious. The first track alone defined heavy metal. It still embodies everything heavy metal is, was, and should ever be. It’s dark and menacing, yet dynamic and thrilling, and let’s not forget that the main riff is still the heaviest thing ever written. The rest of the songs on this record are all incredible, as well. I think my favorite element of this recording, however, is the production. It has an eerie, undefinable quality that creeps me out to this day. No one has ever been able to recreate whatever vibe they had going, that’s for sure.
Black Sabbath — Sabotage
I experienced this record quite a while after hearing the first Sabbath record. I worked through their catalog in order, and although the band reached new levels of excellence on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, it wasn’t until Sabotage that they blew the doors off the very genre they created. The riffs that kick off “Hole In the Sky” and “Symptom of the Universe” are recognized for being two of the heaviest and most revolutionary riffs ever written, but it’s songs like “Thrill of It All” and “The Writ” that made me realize there are no limitations when it comes to writing songs. This record made me reexamine music more than anything I’ve ever heard.
Death — Spiritual Healing
This was my first foray into death metal, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. This is still my favorite Death record. I don’t know if it’s because of the emotional attachment and memories involved in listening to it as a kid or what, but every time I put this on it blows my mind all over again. Once again, here’s an example of production defining the vibe of a record. Defensive Personalities was the first death metal song I ever learned how to play. I still love warming up with that riff.
Eyehategod — Take As Needed For Pain
The first tattoo I ever got was their logo, and it’s because of this record. I’d never heard anybody do vocals like Mike, just spewing rage with no regard whatsoever for technique or finesse. Hearing this was like hearing Black Sabbath for the first time all over again, but in a really bad nightmare. This record was also a gateway drug for bands like The Melvins, Sleep, Buzzoven, and a whole world of great stuff I didn’t even know existed.
Pallbearer — Sorrow and Extinction
I heard this in February and I haven’t stopped listening to it. I probably won’t ever listen to it and not hear something new and exciting. These dudes took everything awesome about the last 50 years of rock music and through some sort of drug and cheap beer fueled alchemy created nothing short of a masterpiece. 12 tracks dedicated solely to guitar? That’s fucking heavy. This blew my mind harder than anything I’d heard since Sabotage, and I’m still trying to figure it out.