Anvil — Forged in Fire
Finding this in a used record store over 17 years ago changed my way of thinking about music, the songs, arrangements and drumming. Huge Anvil fan ever since. Growing up in a small village, it opened up the world of “underground” metal to me, with bands that nobody I knew had heard of. Bands that equaled or surpassed the major bands like Priest and Maiden. This album is easily in my top ten of all time.
Virgin Steele — Invictus
Having listened to V.S. prior to this I liked them but this album combined everything I enjoyed about music at the time. I remember that I bought this CD along some others but I have no recollection of any of the others. This one just blew me away and I didn’t listen to anything else for several weeks. All-time favorite track on this one is “Sword of the Gods,” which is the perfect epic heavy metal song. I listened to this album a few months ago (after not listening to it for a couple of years) and the songs are amazing, the well-crafted lyrics and melodies. The raw power of the recording adds even more to the feeling (this was the last V.S. record to be recorded on analog equipment).
Hammers of Misfortune — The Bastard
I found out about H.o.M. around 2003-04, at a time when it seemed that new bands would just go retro (a lot pretty good, but I usually prefer the original bands). In my ears this album is a perfect mix of styles to create something completely different and unique. The first time I heard “You Should Have Slain Me” I knew that I had found something special. Being a sucker for concept albums the story on “The Bastard” is really cool, a fairy tale for grown-ups, complete with different characters/voices. Their second album, The August Engine, contains a song called “The Doomed Parade” which for me is like a “Princess of the Night” for the 21st century.
Candlemass — Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
Picking this one up in my early teens in a record store for a discount price, the cover of the CD was missing. I had no idea what it was (on the back of the Black Dragon release there are only the song titles). Needless to say, I was captured by it! An atmosphere that very few bands have managed to create, and probably no other band since E.D.M. In my own world, the band remained a mystery for a few years before I found more records by them and realized that they were quite famous…
W.A.S.P. — Still Not Black Enough
Maybe not the W.A.S.P. album that contains most of their hits and party songs, but probably the one that I have listened most to. Too many Saturday nights ended to the sounds of “Scared to Death” or “I Can’t.” All fields of melancholia are covered on this record. Even the up-tempo rocker, “Rock and Roll to Death” fits in its own way. “Goodbye America” is one of the best W.A.S.P. songs ever and the ballad “Keep Holding On” even though very un-metal is still haunting to me.