In our ongoing series of guest columns, we’ve asked a bunch of metal’s heaviest hitters to provide us with a list of five crucial albums they think will change you — either for the better or the worse. Today, we hear from Jonathan McCanless, guitarist for Eugenic Death; you can pre-order the band’s new album here.
Judas Priest — Screaming for Vengeance
I was brought up in a Pentecostal Christian family, and I was prohibited from listening to any secular music. So naturally, I wanted to experience it. I would scan radio stations to try to achieve this end, but most of the rubbish on the radio held no appeal for me. One day, when I was about 11, I stumbled upon the tail end of “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” At the time, I had no idea who it was or the name of the song, but I was exhilarated by Rob Halford’s voice. It took me about six months to discover that it was Judas Priest, and when I did, I went up to the store and bought it on cassette. It served as my initiation into metal.
Iron Maiden — Killers
I couldn’t have been older than 13 when I first heard Killers. This was the first album I was exposed to that had the lyrical style that characterizes the music I like today. The whole album is permeated with this rawness that you only get from the ’80s metal pioneers. I have sought to listen to and create music with that same sort of feeling ever since.
Metallica — Master of Puppets
When I was 13, a friend of mine gave me a self-recorded cassette copy of Ride the Lightning. Before this point, I had only ever heard Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and I don’t think I was ready for that level of aggression, and I put Ride the Lightning to the side. But, the radio station I listened to had “Mandatory Metallica Hour,” and I began to tune in and develop my taste for the softer Metallica tunes. My next trip to the record store resulted in my purchase of Master of Puppets, and it is that album which served to bridge the gap in my mind from power metal to thrash.
Megadeth — Rust in Peace
When I first heard “Take No Prisoners,” it blew my mind away. I was 15 when I found Rust in Peace at a local record shop in Greensboro. It was fast, angry, aggressive, technical, and loud — everything thrash is supposed to be. The combination of Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman resulted in such high musical integrity that Megadeth is still my favorite band. It far surpassed anything I had heard by Metallica, or any other band for that matter, and it was this album that made me realize I needed to hear as much thrash metal as possible.
Morbid Saint — Spectrum of Death
After discovering Megadeth, I began to consume thrash metal in high volume, buying dozens of thrash albums, always searching for something heavier, faster, and more aggressive. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I finally came across Spectrum of Death. It was an insanely raw album, with some of the most searing, technical guitar work I had ever encountered. I remember hearing the vocalist and visualizing this demonic creature that had escaped the depths of hell. It made all the preceding metal albums I had heard sound like cheesy glam metal bands from the ’80s. I hate to say it, but it’s the truth. You can’t get much more aggressive than Morbid Saint.