Believe it or not, it is kind of difficult for me to narrow down to five “life-changing” metal albums; if it were any albums, then it would be much easier. Sure, I can think of favorites… well let’s give it a go.
First and foremost I would say Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. It almost sounds like a cliché to say Black Sabbath, but it is what it is and that first shot of pure heaviness is just unreal and there are no words to describe it. Before I had the album, I first heard the strong “Iron Man” watching AWA wrestling; the tag-team the Road Warriors would run and dive into the ring to the soundtrack of those droning riffs like wild dogs to the kill moving in slow motion. With only a couple of hits they would drive the opponents down into instant defeat. It was the most awesome thing ever. Those men were fearless and could back it up. That visual and the heaviness of those riffs coming together made a massive impression, for better or worse — but an impression nonetheless.
The second would have been Iron Maiden’s Somewhere in Time; not my favorite Maiden album, but my first. A summer camp counselor gave me the cassette when I was 11-years-old. At camp that year, I kissed a girl for the first time, was crushed by a girl for the first time, had my first cigarette, and met Eddie. When I think back on that summer, it plays in my mind like an episode of “The Wonder Years” and Somewhere in Time was the summer’s soundtrack. So maybe that tape was like discovering a drug or relic that would lead one to God.
Soon after discovering Maiden I would discover Queensryche on Headbanger’s Ball and well, that one hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only did the singer sound like that guy in Maiden, he was better, and his theatrics were so convincing. Eventually I bought Operation: Mind Crime and it was the greatest thing I had ever heard. I even remember it being the first album I read the lyrics for while listening to it. I could not pinpoint it then but there was a certain intelligence about Queensryche that I had never heard before in anything else.
All knew is I wanted to sing like that guy. The album made one think; still don’t know what the hell all is going on it and I really don’t think anyone does, but they may just have been the point behind that album. It struck me as a very challenging album and I don’t mean musically challenging either. The album was just so confronting, controversial, and total punk rock. I suppose that is when I realized that popular music had more to say than just catchy choruses… suddenly Journey had lost some of its luster for me.
Next came my merging into the world of thrash metal. While my friends were getting into Metallica and to a lesser degree Megadeth in 1988, I went a different direction when I found a cassette in a guy’s car called The Eyes of Horror by a band called Possessed. I can only compare it to the stories you hear from those guys who bought the first Iron Maiden album when it came out and they speak of their impression of first seeing Eddie. The cover of the cassette was so evil looking that I knew this had to be something good. The guy told me to take it, that he had no idea where it came from or what it was. So I took this home, so sure that this was indeed going to be something that could drown out the Stryper bleeding out of my older brother’s bedroom. And oh goddamn Jesus on a pogo stick it was the coolest and most evil thing I had ever heard.
It was so fast and brutal, it sounded like demons, pure hellish noise and it was mine. No one I knew could stand it and it seemed to have beencreated just for me. At that time in a boy’s life when learning to confront anddeal with isolation and deciding if you will become that loner guy or theoutgoing guy Possessed just seemed to have helped me deal with that… even if theirlyrics were complete cheese.
I would say Warlock’s Triumph and Agony also made an impression. I first discovered Warlock on “Headbanger’s Ball” when I saw the “All We Are” video. When I first saw Doro in that video jump down onto the carhood landing on all fours then slinging her hair back, I think I lost my virginity at that moment.
Afterwards I went out and bought the album and it was and still is one of the greatest metal albums ever. But not only was she sexier than anything I had ever seen but she was also all metal and showed no sign of being inferior to men. Before discovering Warlock the only women in metal I knew was Girlschool from their cover of a Sweet song; I did not even know of Lita at the time. But it was not Doro and Warlock. And maybe to some degree Doro and Warlock influenced the way I would see, treat, and thinking of women; I might have to think about that. But I have been a fan and an admirer.