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300 Albums you must hear before you die! - Part Two

In the second part of the 300 albums to hear before you die, we look at Glam, Hardcore, Prog, Stoner and Doom. But first, Alice Cooper picks the ten albums that put the shock in rock...

"I was always into the British invasion of music, we were all into The Yardbirds and things like that.

And then we heard Frank Zappa’s MOTHERS OF INVENTION and their Freak Out! [1966] album and we were all like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding?’ It was just so different from anything else out there. Not only was Zappa criticising plastic people, he was also criticising the hippies and the rock musicians. We loved it. Although I lived in Arizona, we knew all the bands from LA, The Doors, Love… But when I moved to Detroit I’d never actually heard of bands like THE STOOGES or the MC5. But The Stooges’ Funhouse [1970] was the album that did it for me. They were relentless – you’d see Iggy with peanut butter smeared all over him at gigs. I felt he was a kindred spirit. Very shocking. He still makes me smile.

“I have to choose my own Welcome To My Nightmare [1975]. It’s definitely one of my favourite ALICE COOPER albums. An album I couldn’t have made without the genius of [producer] Bob Ezrin. He just took what we’d done and made it so much more creepy – things like Steven and Cold Ethyl. It’s a great album to listen to. TWISTED SISTER were a definite Alice Cooper kind of band, and they were always very open about it, but then so were bands like Kiss and Mötley Crüe, to be honest. But Dee Snider invented this insane clown character, which I loved. The hair and make-up were just too big. It was great. I really like Stay Hungry [1983], which sounded to me very much like an extension of what Slade were doing as well as me. They were like a Long Island Alice Cooper. They write anthems that united the kids and that the parents hated. I remember recording Be Chrool To Your Scuel on the album after this one [Come Out And Play]. That was fun.

“Now, the first time I ever heard ZODIAC MINDWARP AND THE LOVE REACTION I remember thinking, ‘Aha, now here’s a British version of Alice.’ I really liked the way he writes, and his fi rst ever album, Tattooed Beat Messiah [1988], really struck a chord with me – but sadly I never saw the band live, and to be honest I’m not really certain what the band did after this record came out. I do remember I played with some of the guys in his band [Zodiac band members Cobalt Stargazer, Flash Bastard and Slam Thunderhide appeared alongside Slash and Axl Rose on a cover of Alice’s Under My Wheels that featured in the film The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part 2]. I always felt that Zodiac himself could be the UK’s next Arthur Brown.

“Now we’d had all-girl bands like The Runaways and The Go-Gos and they were cute and they were great. But HOLE were threatening. They pulled no punches, and an album like Live Through This [1994] is shock rock personified. It really has all the credentials. I thought Courtney Love would be a massive star when I heard this album. She shines onstage, but it’s when she’s bored and has got nothing to do that she gets into trouble. 

I realised NINE INCH NAILS were pretty special when I first heard Head Like A Hole. It was heavy but had a great melody to it. They always struck me very much as road warriors, futuristic Hells Angels even. Then with The Downward Spiral [1994] Trent Reznor got even more industrial. It’s a lot deeper as an album too. He kind of reminded me of an industrial version of Lou Reed. I should mention MARILYN MANSON too. Something like Antichrist Superstar [1996] I come to blows with him theologically, but musically it’s very good. He’s good at pushing buttons, even mine.

“I’m going to be touring with ROB ZOMBIE soon and I look on him like my little brother. Really, talking to him is like talking to a family member. He really understands the humour in horror films, because good horror is just OTT comedy, really. Hellbilly Deluxe [1998] is like a tattoo parlour coming to life. It is derivative of Alice Cooper but more industrial and with a great sense of humour. SLIPKNOT have humour too. I remember seeing them play and they were devastating. Then I met them backstage and thought, ‘This can’t be Slipknot.’ They were sat there in chinos and GAP shirts. Then I realised they did what I did: create personalities. Like their album Iowa [2001] - it's a scarecrow thing. Because all they see in Iowa is cornfields and scarecrows!”


GLAM/SHOCK

CRITICS' CHOICE

Steel Panther’s Stix Zadinia picks five hair and glam metal treasures

POISONLook What The Cat Dragged In, 1986

“It’s not about the songs so much. It’s the story of Poison, these guys from Pennsylvania who came to LA, put fuckin’ make-up on and made their hair high and flyered the fuck out of this city. They proved it was possible to make it if you looked good enough.”

RATTOut Of The Cellar, 1984

“That was a huge record, dude. Wanted Man? That’s straight-up LA metal. It was before Appetite…, so those guys were way ahead. Bobby Blotzer [drums] is a good friend. He really wore Spandex right, especially in the Round And Round video.”

QUIET RIOTMetal Health, 1983

“It was very influential – the first heavy metal record to go to Number One on the Billboard chart. It proved that hair metal was a viable fuckin’ commodity. And the fuckin’ mask on that guy on the cover? Totally awesome!”

WARRANTDirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, 1989

“That’s a fun record. I don’t know what happened after that, though. I’ve got a couple of buddies in Warrant, but I don’t know what happened to Jani Lane. You should do a regular article in Metal Hammer called ‘What happened to Jani Lane?’ and every month you could write about another crazy exploit.”

LITA FORDOut For Blood, 1983

“The only reason is the cover. It’s her in a spider’s web. Let’s leave it there. I don’t really need to listen to Lita Ford’s record, I just need to look at the album cover. I’ll listen to Appetite For Destruction and look at Lita’s album cover. That’s the party right there!”

GENRE DEFINING

Stix on the original hair metal

Def LeppardPYROMANIA, 1983

“It put hair metal on the map with Photograph, and Joe Elliott’s sleeveless Union Jack shirt was totally bitching! The songs are all fuckin’ epic. They’re all classic songs. You can’t fuck with that record.”

Bon Jovi - SLIPPERY WHEN WET, 1986

“Nobody had better hair than the guys in Bon Jovi. Except for the keyboard player. That album is just hit after hit. Jon Bon Jovi can do no wrong. He’s livin’ on a prayer, dude.”

Mötley CrüeSHOUT AT THE DEVIL, 1983

“Just bitching! They raised the bar on the theatrics. When that album came out, I opened it up and there were four pictures of the dudes and it was game on, motherfucker!

Guns N’ RosesAPPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, 1987

“If you’re making a top five and you don’t have this, then you’re fucking insane or you’re a poser. And you can print that! Every single song on that fuckin’ record is epic.

Whitesnake1987, 1987

“Whitesnake are just totally bitching. I’m just going to say ‘David Coverdale’ and then I’m going to leave it there. It’s fucking Whitesnake. It’s David fucking Coverdale. What else can I say, dude?”

SCHOOL OF SHOCK

Hammer’s handpicked delightful, disgraceful decuple

SEX PISTOLSNever Mind The Bollocks…, 1977

Having made national headlines by calling daytime TV host Bill Grundy a “fucking rotter!” live on air, the Sex Pistols endeared themselves further with this obnoxious slab of brilliance. This, despite Sid Vicious, who couldn’t play a note and was later arrested for stabbing his girlfriend to death.

REVOLTING COCKSLinger Ficken’ Good, 1993

Already banned from performing in the UK, Al Jourgensen’s ‘other band’ were truly out of control by the time they recorded this warped masterpiece. A human guinea pig to acid guru Timothy Leary (who guests on the album), Al developed a fascination with barnyard animals. Yes, you should be scared.

THE STOOGESFun House, 1970

The same year Black Sabbath invented heavy metal, The Stooges were two albums into inventing punk rock with tracks like TV Eye and Loose. Frontman Iggy Pop, meanwhile, was cross-dressing, injecting heroin onstage, and taking on entire biker gangs while wearing a tutu. Marvellous.

KILLING JOKEPandemonium, 1994

Their singer has a reported IQ of 190 and puts curses on people. Their bassist was committed after walking naked down London’s King’s Road burning money. Their guitarist… well, you don’t want to know. Pandemonium, therefore, is a work of genius.

DWARVES…Are Young And Good Looking, 1997

Recently evicted from Sub Pop for pretending their frequently naked guitarist had been murdered in a bar fight, Dwarves returned on Epitaph with their finest work yet. Armed with classics about Satanism and pimping one’s ho, they played a 67-second showcase and then smashed everything on the stage.

WASPThe Last Command, 1985

With their self-titled debut WASP were already a prime target for the Tipper Gore-led PMRC. Their sophomore album charted at Number 47 on the Billboard 100, and tracks such as Wild Child, Blind In Texas and Fist Full Of Diamonds put them on the hit list of parents the world over.

TURBONEGROAss Cobra, 1996

A heroin-addicted Viking clan meet a transvestite sailors’ convention in a Norwegian whorehouse where the only music is Alice Cooper and Poison Idea. After a police raid, five of those who escape form Turbonegro and write I Got Erection. Ask them, it’s all absolutely true!

OZZY OSBOURNEBlizzard Of Ozz, 1980

Having been elbowed from Black Sabbath for drug and alcohol abuse (pot/kettle anyone?) the Double O made the ultimate comeback with such classics as Crazy Train and Mr Crowley. Mind, this didn’t stop him pissing on the Alamo, snorting ants, or attacking his wife.

GG ALLINFreaks, Faggots, Drunks + Junkies, 1988

Home to such family favourites as Sleeping In My Piss and Suck My Ass It Smells, Freaks, Faggots… was the follow-up to Expose Yourself To Kids. GG is, or rather, was, available for birthday parties and weddings, but he’s dead now.

POISON IDEAFeel The Darkness, 1990

One of the best hardcore punk albums ever made, Feel The Darkness showcased everything that made Poison Idea so legendary and so dangerous. Frontman Jerry A sliced his own face with broken glass, breathed fire, and pulled a loaded gun on Dwarves singer Blag Dahlia. Back away slowly.

FUN BOX

Three perfect power ballad records

SKID ROWSlave To The Grind, 1991

The last of the great hard rock/metal albums of the era, it hosted the heaviest rock we’d ever heard. Sass, sex, solos and sleaze – perfect.

VAN HALENFor Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1991

An underrated album from Sammy Hagar-era Halen and features the classic dancefloor/air guitar anthem, Poundcake. Don’t dis the Van Hagar!

THUNDERBack Street Symphony, 1990

The London rockers’ debut packed a solid punch of anthemic hard rock, from the title track to Dirty Love and the timeless ballad Love Walked In.


JAMEY JASTA

The Hatebreed frontman picks 10 essential hardcore releases

MADBALL’s Set It Off [1994] is pretty much my favourite hardcore album ever. It’s 26 minutes of the most mean-faced, street-level, awesome hardcore. You hear them in nearly every hardcore band around today. WARZONE’s Don’t Forget The Struggle, Don’t Forget The Streets [1988] is another record that stands the test of time. There’s not a bad song on it and from the cover to the songs, it just creates a camaraderie between punks, skinheads, pretty much everyone that’d be associated with hardcore. 

YOUTH OF TODAY’s Break Down The Walls [1987] has classic songs all the way through. There’s something about Ray Cappo’s voice that sounds so insane but he delivers those messages of solidarity and positive thinking that are just the greatest thing. I don’t think there’s one song on that record longer than two and a half minutes.

I got BIOHAZARD’s Biohazard [1990] on my 14th birthday. They were crossing over into metal but it’s a New York hardcore record. It’s a crazy pit-inciting record. I like Urban Discipline too but this is more my thing.

I had LEEWAY’s Desperate Measures [1991] and kids at my school said, ‘You have to get Born To Expire [1989]’ and they were totally right! AJ Novello was an amazing songwriter and this record has non-stop jams. DRI’s Dealing With It [1985] is important in bringing metal to hardcore, even though they’re more of a thrash band. There’s maybe one song over two minutes but that’s a hardcore punk album, for sure. 

"People didn’t like when SICK OF IT ALL went through their metallic sound-change but I didn’t think it was too far away from the hardcore stuff. It had that amazing Normandy sound. I had Blood, Sweat And No Tears [1989] but Just Look Around [1992] had a better sound. SHEER TERROR’s Just Can’t Hate Enough [1990] is an angry album! I like a lot of posi-core [positive hardcore – Genres Ed] but every now and then, it’s good to have a pissed-off, ‘I don’t give a fuck about anybody’ record to listen to. It came out in the early 90s and it’s just a mean, pissed-off, angry record. 

"What I love about JUDGE’s Bringin’ It Down [1989] album is John Porcelly added a really metallic edge to the record. It was like a straight-edge take on a harder-edged sound. Gang vocals, emotional lyrics but hard and tough. MINOR THREAT were a massive influence on Youth Of Today and Gorilla Biscuits. If I had to pick a record, I’d pick Out Of Step [1983]. Both EPs are great too but Betrayed and Think Again are classic songs.”

CRITICS' CHOICE

Five Hammer-approved hardcore milestones

HATEBREEDPerseverance, 2002

They’d been plying their trade in metallic hardcore since 1994 but they finally hit paydirt on this collection of pit-igniting anthems. No album is more responsible for the resurrection of the beatdown than Hatebreed’s Perseverance. Fact.

GALLOWSOrchestra Of Wolves, 2006

British hardcore was resurrected in just under 35 vitriolic minutes on this scud-missile of an album. UK hardcore is thriving like never before in 2010: Orchestra… is the reason.

REFUSEDThe Shape Of Punk To Come, 1998

It’s mind-blowing to think that an album released 12 years ago can still sound like punk rock from the future. This album from the Swedish pioneers is essential for any hardcore fan.

CONVERGEJane Doe, 2001

Volatile and bleak, intensely extreme and one of the most emotionally raw sets of lyrics ever to grace music, Converge’s uncompromising and brutal masterwork resonated with everyone from emo kids to the black metal fraternity.

GLASSJAWEverything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, 2000

Often imitated but never bettered, Glassjaw’s seminal Everything… was vital to the burgeoning screamo scene, and remains screamo’s finest hour. Its chances of ever being capped are slim-to-none.

GENRE DEFINING

Jamey approves these landmark releases

Black FlagDAMAGED, 1981

“It pre-dates absolutely everything. I give it my respect and it’s a classic. The cover with the broken mirror and the unmistakable logo, you can still look at it and go, ‘Wow!’”

Bad BrainsI AGAINST I, 1986

“They branched out like no one before them. They’re a great band that bring people from all walks of life together – punks, hippies, reggae guys – and they were catchy and heart-felt and a lot more technical than people think.”

Cro-MagsTHE AGE OF QUARREL, 1986

“You hear all of the stories of how they influenced Metallica and they toured with everyone from Discharge to Motörhead to Sabbath. I like pretty much every song on the record.”

Agnostic FrontCAUSE FOR ALARM, 1986/ONE VOICE, 1992

“It’s a tie with these two records. I got into One Voice and it was life-changing when I heard it in 1992. The Vinnie Stigma [guitar]/Roger Miret [vocals] sound is untouchable.”

Gorilla BiscuitsSTART TODAY, 1989

“It’s a positive record with punk direction and classic songs. The title track is one of the best moshes ever. They influenced hardcore bands as well as AFI, New Found Glory and Good Charlotte. They had it all going on.”


ALEXI LAIHO

The Children Of Bodom frontman picks 10 of the best power metal releases

"I really like some of STRATOVARIUS’s older stuff. But Visions [1997] isn’t just one of my favourite power metal albums, it’s one of my favourite albums in general. That’s a fuckin’ awesome record. It’s funny because I really stopped listening to modern power metal a while back, when all the bands started competing with each other and the scene started to piss me off, but I really like EDGUY’s first album, Kingdom Of Madness [1997] – it’s incredible. 

HELLOWEEN’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys Parts 1 & 2 [1987, 1988] are two albums but I always think of them as one! They’re fuckin’ legendary. The thing about Helloween is that they really made awesome albums but they also incorporated their own sense of humour into the music, and I always liked that, because we’ve recorded some pretty crazy shit ourselves. After their singer Michael Kiske left I didn’t follow the band, although the new singer was OK, it wasn’t about that – I just preferred the earlier albums.

“YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN’S Rising Force [1984] is old-school shit, but I think Odyssey [1988] was the most power metal-ish album Yngwie ever did. When it comes to new power metal bands I really haven’t heard too many of them, but old stuff like this rules.

“The term ‘power metal’ means something else to me, at least if we’re talking about music from the old days – it meant bands like JUDAS PRIEST and albums like Screaming For Vengeance [1982]. What’s funny is that when I was a kid I thought that ‘Judas Priest’ was the actual name of the singer, Rob Halford, ha ha! I’ve got two Priest albums on this list but I don’t care – they’re such an amazing band. Painkiller [1990] was actually the first Judas Priest album I ever heard. I was 10 or 11 years old when it came out, and I saw the video on a TV show back in the day. They showed the clip for the song Painkiller and I was like, ‘Holy motherfuckin’ shit! What is this?!’ The drum intro is so badass and the riffing is so amazing and Rob Halford’s singing is so shrill and mean… it totally blew me away.

“I love GAMMA RAY – in fact, I just like Kai Hansen in general. If you’re gonna talk about power metal, he’s definitely one of the guys that I show all due respect to. Take your pick which Gamma Ray album it is, I don’t really care! Maybe Heading For Tomorrow [1990]. I can’t help it, but I love the first RHAPSODY OF FIRE album, Legendary Tales [1997], back before they changed their name [from Rhapsody]. It’s a bit of a skeleton in my closet, but they’re great musicians. 

Finally I’d have to pick MANOWAR’s Kings Of Metal [1988]. Fuck yeah, dude! I have a really controversial attitude about Manowar. Most people think they’re pretty funny but secretly everybody loves them. Kings Of Metal is the shit and Hail To England [1984] is a pretty good one, too. I love 80s music in general, actually.”

CRITICS' CHOICE

Five Hammer-approved power and prog genre-benders

BLIND GUARDIAN

A Night At The Opera, 2002

Germany’s Blind Guardian were among the first and best groups to give power metal a European twist. This mid-period album offers operatic vocals, layered harmonies, myriad time changes and a 14-minute ode to the Trojan War.

THE MARS VOLTADe-Loused In The Comatorium, 2003

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s heads were exploding with ideas after walking out on At The Drive-In, but few expected their next step would be as mind-blowing as this.

KATATONIAThe Great Cold Distance, 2006

As the Swedish band rejected growled vocals, hyper-speed tempos and doom-laden time signatures once and for all, so their intricacy spiralled. The transition undoubtedly cost the Mikael Åkerfeldt-approved group some fans, but also endeared them to a whole new audience.

PORCUPINE TREEFear Of A Blank Planet, 2007

Having abandoned his quest for radio play, Steven Wilson attained a breakthrough by recruiting King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and Alex Lifeson from Rush for a six-song concept album that by turns spat vitriol at and offered a searing lament to the decline of modern society. What a delicious irony.

MASTODONCrack The Skye, 2009

Adding keyboards and toning down the death-growls, this concept record about Tsarist Russia confirmed that Mastodon’s own artistic growth refl ected the public’s growing appetite for sludgy, thrash-based riffs and ambitious song structures.

GENRE DEFINING

The albums that gave birth to prog

King CrimsonIN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING: AN OBSERVATION, 1969

Progressive metal’s ground zero. Oblique, dark and without any regard for the mainstream, this remarkable debut album was recently remixed for 5.1 by Steven Wilson, who made it sound even more disconcerting.

Fates WarningAWAKEN THE GUARDIAN, 1986

Connecticut’s Fates Warning were among the very first bands to weld smouldering metal to the excesses of prog. Their third album set the template, whisking the listener away on a musicianly, sword’n’sorcery fuelled astral journey.

QueensrÿcheOPERATION: MINDCRIME, 1988

If Fates Warning set the bar, Queensrÿche took progressive metal to unforeseen Olympian heights, selling millions of copies of their third album, which offered soaring songs and a storyline of love, brainwashing, politics, religion and murder.

SavatageGUTTER BALLET, 1989

Founded as pure, skull-crushing metalheads, this Floridian band’s career had all but hit the skids until a career-transforming introduction of light and shade. It’s a toss-up between this, their fifth album, or 1991’s Streets: A Rock Opera, but both are essential.

Dream TheaterIMAGES AND WORDS, 1992

After a false start with an ill-fitting vocalist, Dream Theater found James LaBrie, signed to a major label and established themselves as a force to be reckoned with via this watershed second album, which contained their only ‘hit’, Pull Me Under.

DREAM ON

Dream Theater's keyboardist Jordan Rudess takes us through his 10 essential prog releases

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMERTarkus, 1971

“Although the way that keyboard player Keith Emerson used his instrument almost as a guitar has since become very commonplace in progressive music, Tarkus was a record of such power and overblown ambition, it blew me away the first time I heard it.”

YESClose To The Edge, 1972

“On Close To The Edge, Yes’s music was so grand that it was almost unreal. It was just glorious. With Dream Theater we have definitely tried to tap into the whole expansive scope of records like Close To The Edge and A Trick Of The Tail by Genesis.”

KING CRIMSONStarless And Bible Black, 1974

“With his love of distortion, [guitarist] Robert Fripp’s music has always had a strong metal identity. His forward-thinking mentality has rubbed off on just about every album from Dream Theater and he definitely influenced the whole math-metal thing.”

RUSHMoving Pictures, 1981

“For a band with around 20 albums to their name, Rush have gone through lots of different phases. I don’t like all of them, but Moving Pictures is the album that really turned me onto them and influenced me the most. The songs on it are just incredible.”

SPOCK’S BEARDDay For Night, 1999

“It’s a shame Spock’s Beard are a fairly unknown name as anybody that is interested in King Crimson and Gentle Giant would appreciate them. Had those bands continued along their earliest, mighty paths they might have sounded something like Spock’s Beard.”

OPETHBlackwater Park, 2001

“With the scales they use and their whole harmonic darkness thing, Opeth’s sound very much tips its hat towards King Crimson. Blackwater Park, which was produced by my friend Steve Wilson, is a record I have on my iPod.”

PORCUPINE TREEDeadwing, 2005

“Though it was recorded before the band really broke through, this is the one of theirs that I probably listen to the most. I also like Lightbulb Sun [2000], which saw the band trying to get hit singles, but Deadwing is the album I always come back to.”

TOOL10,000 Days, 2006

“I’m not the biggest Tool fan in Dream Theater; that distinction goes to John Myung [bassist], and he is the one who tends to write something that sounds like them, sometimes disturbingly so. Their use of hypnotic rhythms has definitely rubbed off on us.”

SYMPHONY XParadise Lost, 2007

“Musically, rhythmically and harmonically Symphony X do the progressive metal thing so incredibly well. Russell Allen has a terrific voice and, like me, and Dream Theater generally, they are massively influenced by the whole classical side of things.”

COHEED AND CAMBRIANo World For Tomorrow, 2007

“It’s great that Coheed And Cambria are bringing this form of music to a new, younger audience. Claudio Sanchez has an interesting voice that sounds like Geddy Lee of Rush, which I really relate to and it’s one of the reasons why I like them so much.”


VILLE VALO

The thin white duke of love metal picks 10 troops of doom

"BLACK SABBATH’s Black Sabbath [1970] was the start of it all – the tolling bell off in the distance. People talked about other bands like Blue Cheer, but none of them had the pounding metal of what doom needs to be doom. There are so few bands that wrote songs that transport you to another world. For me, CATHEDRAL are one of the only real doomsters: it’s so fucking slow and so miserable and so dark, it’s nearly unlistenable and I love it to death. I love the artwork and the photos and the lyrics on Forest Of Equilibrium [1991] – all of it was mind-blowing. This… is… doom. I’d have to pick their latest album too, The Guessing Game [2010]. They have changed so much. I know the broad and colourful set of influences everyone in that band has and this is the first time they’ve nailed it: Frank Zappa, bizarre folk, with Trouble [get 1984’s Psalm 9! – Ed], with Sabbath… it’s crazy! It’s exhilarating, scary and funny at the same time. A psychedelic trip.

Serenades [1993] was ANATHEMA’s first album and the first album of theirs that I heard. Everything these guys were doing was like a revelation at that time. MY DYING BRIDE’s Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium EP [1991] was epic. They played the title song Symphonaire Infernus… on Headbanger’s Ball and I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ Super-slow, monolithically gothic and with Latin lyrics – I was hooked. You’ll realise that 12 minutes have passed and you’ve been transported – and that doesn’t happen with a Christina Aguilera song.

“PARADISE LOST’s Gothic [1991] was more like death metal but slower, with a more metallic vibe that would break into a gothic feel. It was a very influential time, and when we started the band HIM, so it was a big inspiration for us. TYPE O NEGATIVE’s Bloody Kisses [1993] has a Danzig-like darkness: the American gothic and Euro gothic and the doom with the title-track. The dirge-like 10-minute song about the family cat that died. I love that they made this funereal long, bleak, heavy song about the passing of a cat.

“ELECTRIC WIZARD Witchcult Today [2007]… There’s just something about Electric Wizard that sucks you in, and that should be the magic of music and rock’n’roll. What you want to do is go to a high-end studio where they make Phil Collins records and play this: it’s just like booooooooooom! Next I’d pick ROKY ERICKSON AND THE ALIENS’ The Evil One [1981]. Roky Erickson was from the 13th Floor Elevators. He got arrested for holding weed and opted for a mental institution over prison where they experimented on him. He was never the same again. This one album is very influential. 

"Finally I’d recommend Witchburner [1984] by MERCY. It’s Messiah from Candlemass’s previous band. The track I’m Your Pervert Priest has the lyric: ‘When I fuck a nun I make her come, when you don’t see us you lick her cunt/I’m your pervert priest’. It was so nasty and so wrong, it’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?!’”

CRITICS' CHOICE

Hammer-approved sludge metal must-haves

CROWBARCrowbar, 1993

From their impressive bellies to their devastating riffs, Crowbar set out to be the heaviest band on the planet. Their self-titled debut was produced by Phil Anselmo and still sounds like a herd of bonged-out buffalo stamping on our hopes and dreams.

EYEHATEGODTake As Needed For Pain, 1993

Permanently up to their necks in chaos – drug problems and brushes with the law – Eyehategod took the slow tempos and dark shadows of Sabbath into the darkest territory imaginable.

IRON MONKEYIron Monkey, 1995

The UK’s answer to Eyehategod were somehow even heavier than their forebears. Fronted by throat-mangling madman Johnny Morrow, Nottingham’s resident five-man nightmare emerged from the gutter, all veins bulging, and crushed all-comers with their swivel-eyed hymns to degeneracy.

BUZZOV.ENSore, 1994

With a reputation for furious, violent live shows, and a uniquely twisted sound that veered from pounding sludge to ferocious crusty punk, Buzzov.en were the ultimate badass swamp metal band.

MASTODONRemission, 2002

Bringing evolutionary fervour and a dash of prog rock ingenuity to the world of sludge, Mastodon began their incredible journey on this riff-packed monument to intelligent heaviness. The sound of the dirty South would never be the same again.

GENRE DEFINING

The albums that created stoner rock

KyussBLUES FOR THE RED SUN, 1992

Planned or not, Kyuss defined stoner rock on their second album. Insanely heavy and driven by Josh Homme’s throbbing guitar sound, the seminal Sabbath rumble was reinvented.

SleepSLEEP’S HOLY MOUNTAIN, 1992

Ruined by marijuana and proudly psychedelic from first till last, stoner doom’s ultimate power trio never bettered this hulking, pentatonic tour-de-force.

Monster MagnetSUPERJUDGE, 1993

Drenched in kitsch B-movie imagery and the acid casualty’s lexicon, Dave Wyndorf’s space cadets were stoner rock’s first big success, and their trashy ascent towards rock’n’roll glory began here.

DownNOLA, 1995

Led by Phil Anselmo and also featuring members of Crowbar, Corrosion Of Conformity and Eyehategod, Down were stoner rock’s first super-group. Their debut remains a peerless feast of weed-stained riffs.

Electric WizardCOME MY FANATICS, 1997

Skull-flattening doom at its most misanthropic and brutal, Dorset’s drug-guzzling horror fiends destroyed your speakers and sanity on this, their epic second album.


This article originally appeared in Metal Hammer #205.

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