Black Flag — In My Head
This record has some of the most tortured guitar riffs in metal, punk or hardcore. Black Flag changed the way I thought about music; it was like taking acid for the first time and seeing the fabric of the universe crystallize and shatter. One of the coolest things about this record is the cold, sterile production. It seems like Ginn told Spot that he wanted the band to sound like Dokken or Ratt, but the band ended up sounding like neither. Instead, you get this creepy, twisted hybrid of metal, punk and what seems to be Jim Morrison-esque bizarreness. I would list every song on this record as life-changing, but if hard-pressed to come up with two stand-outs, I would say “Paralyzed,” “In My Head,” and “Black Love.”
Godflesh — Streetcleaner
For those not familiar with the mightiness of Godflesh, I suggest that you start here. This record terrified me the first time I heard it. It was the sonic equivalent of being shot through a wormhole and being deposited in Hell. I wasn’t even sure that I liked this record when I first heard it. I remember listening to it and letting it sit on my shelf for a few weeks before revisiting it. My go to tracks are “Devastator / Mighty Trust Krusher” and “Dream Long Dead.” The “hit,” in my opinion, is “Like Rats.”
Neurosis — Through Silver in Blood
This band created a whole genre, a whole way of approaching music, but none have ever been able to capture the intensity of this record. The two previous records Enemy of the Sun and Souls at Zero were fine records, but they seemed like dress rehearsals for Through Silver in Blood. The track “Locust Star” is kind of the “hit” on this record.
Swans — Cop
If you’re going to check out Godflesh, Swans are required listening. It’s a hard listen, definitely an ordeal. You won’t find any good times on this record, just a study in bleakness and deconstruction. It’s music stripped of all pretense, reduced to pure vitriol. Similar to Streetcleaner, I wasn’t even sure I liked it; it lived on my shelf for a few weeks until I was drawn to it, I couldn’t stay away. Listen to the title track and you’ll know what I mean.
Dissection — Storm of the Light’s Bane
This is the template for Swedish Black Metal. When I first heard Watain, my first thought was that these guys were huge Dissection fans. The riffs are brutal and catchy; standout tracks are “Night’s Blood,” and “Where Dead Angels Lie;” those songs pretty much cover the greatest of this record.