GSA Writer Contest, Entry #1: Five Albums That Changed Sean Harris

Guest Column

Today, we kick off a writer’s contest we launched last month following an influx of resumes and requests from readers, seeking employ with Gun Shy Assassin. Well, no one gets paid here, so we figured we’d just host a contest for aspiring writers who wanted exposure, and the response was great. We’ve narrowed the field down a bit, and will be running one entry a day; eventually, we’ll ask readers to vote on the best entry, which will weigh heavily in our final decision. First up is Sean Harris

The ‘90s. Quite an interesting time in music for an impressionable youth like myself. Unfortunately, at that point and time, I only listened to “Music for the masses.” What could a 10-year-old kid do when the internet was not prevalent and my parents had no money to buy anything from a CD store?

I was hooked. Physical education classes would blast non-stop garbage — the likes of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Teenage propaganda at it’s finest.

Luckily, one day, all that changed. After years of suffering in a school full of conformists (a.k.a. kids), middle school rolled around. My parents of a broken home were starting to roll in a few more quarters. This allowed my mom to change my life forever. Her words will always be etched into my brain.

“Go into the rock section and find something good. Here’s $30.”

As I sauntered over to the aforementioned “rock” section, I noticed something. The album covers. Boring! No images of blood, war, violence or anything I regarded as “good.” But on the opposite side of the rock albums was the medicine I yearned for. METAL! Of course the album cover was the only thing that mattered. The most elaborate art would win my heart. It took the eerie look of a devil and an electric chair to really catch my attention as the two titles read,

The Number of The Beast. Ride The Lightning.

Insanely awesome riffage would ensue. From the second “Invaders” crushed my brain till the closing heaviness of “The Call of Ktulu,” I was completely sold. Bruce Dickinson’s wailing vocals. Cliff Burton’s and Steve Harris’ crunching bass patterns. “Creeping Death,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Fight Fire With Fire,” “Run To The Hills.” Anthem after anthem. This is the greatest music ever created. I will make it my agenda to make sure everyone I know realizes the pure skill and substance this music contains. No B.S. No filler. Just metal!

Eventually, I would grow even older. I would meet honest to god metal heads. People who share the same vision I do. Iron Maiden and Metallica were all fine and dandy but I needed something heavier. “Heavier you say,” my metal brethren would retort. As I held in my hand something so demonic, I could feel that I would be in for a treat.


Holy shit! Iron Maiden never sang about Auschwitz and showers that claimed lives. Metallica never had lyrics involving lacerated skies bleeding on everyone. THIS is metal. This is SLAYER! Deeper and darker. Tom Araya’s screams would open up a whole new world to me and that world started with Reign In Blood. Aspiring drummers one day hope that they can be as good as a drum machine. Drum machines hope that one day they can be as good as Dave Lombardo.

Thrash metal at it’s very core, there is nothing more gratifying and faster. People thought I was nuts for enjoying music that promoted necrophilia and the slander of Christianity but I just thought it made for awesome music, which it did.

High school is a turbulent time in anybody’s life. The decisions you make there will affect you for the rest of your life. By my graduation year, I started getting in a rut. The ‘80s metal phenomenon wasn’t dying off, but it definitely ran it’s course. I still loved it to death but I could only listen to “For Whom The Bell Tolls” so many times. I, once again, needed that fix. Something new, amazing and unique. Little did I know, the opening act was about to steal the show.

2008. Many years have passed and I finally had my own job and my own money. Perfect timing too. Metallica just finished up their latest studio effort, Death Magnetic. They announced a world tour and wouldn’t you know, they would make a trip to Vancouver, BC. 60 miles away from my hometown, there would not be anything that could possibly stop me from attending this show. The ticket read, “Metallica with guests Lamb Of God.” I thought to myself, “Lamb Of God? Aren’t they that stupid screamo band from Guitar Hero?” Well they were on Guitar Hero, but they were far from stupid. They went on stage the night of December 2, 2008, and once again my life would change forever.

“Vancouver let me see your fucking horns!”

I was so naive. This stupid “screamo band” from Richmond motherfucking Virginia blew the metal giants off the stage. I subsequently went out the next day and purchased the next two albums that would alter the course of my time on this earth.  

Ashes of the Wake. Sacrament.

The guitars. The bass. The screaming. THE DRUMMING! Chris Adler seems like he has three arms and about five feet. These guys are Pantera on steroids! Pure American Metal, groove metal or whatever you classify it as, there’s nothing that compares. Talent is at a premium when it comes to tracks like “Walk With Me In Hell” and “Laid To Rest.”

So there you go. Five albums, five complete game changers in my eyes. Hail true metal, Metal up your ass and…


Sean Harris

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