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 Mattia Alagna of Abstracter.
Amebix — Arise!
This album is fundamental to me for the lyrical themes and for the revolutionary style of playing it portrayed. I think this is where “contamination” really started to come together in heavy music. To me it feels like before this album you either played rock, or you played metal or you played punk. Amebix brought it all together in a fearless and seemingly effortless way.
This album, I think, is one of the first real, post-punk or post-metal albums in history (yes, way before Neurosis since they influenced Neurosis as well in the first place), one of the first “sludgy” sounding albums ever, and an album that first portrayed all the elements that I love about experimental extreme metal: the blending of various genres, the taste for real atmosphere and moods and a heaviness that does not only come from volume and distortion but from raw emotion and completely obliterating and helpless anger and despair. This album changed my DNA as a musician in a permanent way. It caused a mutation in me that influences inevitably today any lyric or note I write. This album literally changed my life, not only my “musician life,” but what I am as a person.
Godflesh — Streetcleaner
I remember, a long time ago, in my mid teens really being into grindcore and hardcore punk. Of course Napalm Death was one of my absolute favorite acts then. After running into “Scum” I decided to investigate what had happened to Justin Broadrick, since I found his guitar work on that album so fucking crazy and out there. So I asked my mom to pick up a copy of Streetcleaner at Amoeba Records in Berkeley since she was out here on a trip and I knew that store would have it.
I only wanted to listen to it cause it featured a Napalm Death founding member and cause they were another Earache highlight, other than that I knew nothing about them. Oh my, I will never forget the feeling I had when I first heard “Like Rats” for the first time. The guitar sound and the totally apocalyptic and desperate sound that album had totally changed my perception of what music should have sounded like, and of what sort of emotions it could convey. This album introduced me to “huge” guitar based bands and albums that I now love, including Abstracter of course, and bands and works that show sonic development in the complexity of sound rather than technicality or evolution of composition. I love this album to this day and listen to it regularly to remind my self where I my self come from musically. Justin Broadrick is one of my all-time heroes and I love every single project of his.
Fields of the Nephilim — Elizium
This album showed me how epic and vast and emotional rock and roll can be. No other album has moved my emotions as much as this one. This album has a darkness and deepness to it which is so grand, it is almost impossible to behold. When I first heard Elizium some years ago, I stopped listening to metal all together for weeks, maybe months. The darkness and despair this album conveys were greater than what I had found on any metal album until then. Carl McCoy is one of my favorite vocalists of all times and a musician I look up to and respect probably more than any other. I also think the the final “Summerland,” “Wail of Sumer” And There Will Your Heart Be Also” represent the greatest suite of consecutive tracks ever found in “heavy” music and I love this album also because it is the “best ending” album of all time. The first half just prepares the ground for the massive and monumental ending this album has. All in all it a masterpiece and one of the best kept secrets in the world of “dark” and depressive music.
Beherit — Drawing Down The Moon
Pure concentrated evil. There are no other words to describe this outcast and outlaw of a metal album. The only sound of this thing terrifies me to this day and sends shivers down my spine at every listen. The sound of this album is so fucked and bizarre it almost seems unreal. This is one of my favorite albums because it is one of the first “noisy” metal albums ever made. The sound on this thing is so pioneering and out there that it almost conveys more feelings related to psychedelic music than to metal. But it is also so violent and heavy that it inevitably turns into something monstrously menacing and threatening sounding. This is one of my favorite black metal albums of all time. This is what metal should sound like: fearless, unpredictable, bizarre, contaminated, lawless, and totally fucked.
Hi Hero Is Gone — Monument To Thieves
The sound of the gutter screaming for the blood of the establishment. This album is a scream of war so great it’s impossible to ignore it. This is musical artillery coming from the very gut of america. The disease right in the belly of the beast. I love how helplessly pissed, pessimist, confrontational and misanthropic this album sounds both in the sound and in the lyrical content. This is by far one of the greatest punk bands America has ever seen and one of those bands that were so pivotal to the creation of the “sludge” sound that their influence can be heard pretty much in every crust, sludge and doom release you hear today.
This album simply helped create one of today’s most popular genres and as such is one of the most influential underground metal albums the country has ever seen. This band prepared the ground for a period of splendor and greatness for america’s metal underground and spawned another amazing american punk band, Tragedy, another of my absolute favorites. Simply quintessential.