After an extended layoff Justin Trosper of the late, much-mourned noisy post-hardcore heroes Unwound has returned with an excellent infectious-if-still-decidedly-off-kilter outfit of musical subversion, Survival Knife. Our Deci-antennae really started vibrating, however, when Trosper cited Enslaved and Opeth, among other extreme metallers, as influences for his new venture in a great interview over at Stereo Subversion, and, thus, the decision was made to hit the man up for a Top Five list. He sent along instead was eight selections -- a one-through-five plus three sixth place finishers.
Touché, kvlt friend.Touché.
Survival Knife's Loose Power is out next week. Get into it.
1. Metallica -- Master of Puppets
Bragging rights: I still have the cassette tape I got when this came out. I have had to argue against this record versus Ride many times over and it usually comes to a heated standstill. That being said, the two records together have deeply informed my own songwriting and guitar playing. To me, it is punk rock classical music but only "sounds" metal.
My metal tastes tend toward seventy percent melodic and thirty percent more abrasive with a Venn diagram overlap of about fifty percent Scandinavian heritage. Master of Puppets sort of fits that bill perfectly except that Metallica are only twenty-five percent Scandi.
2. Slayer -- Reign in Blood
Like Metallica, I have a hard time picking a favorite with this band. It starts out so strong, the transitions between songs are perfect and it's the perfect length. It still give me chills...the production is just really well executed. Classic albums are like this and not just a collection of songs. Metallers seems to understand this well, for better and worse.
3. Sleep -- Dopesmoker
This is my number one road trip record. If you are going on tour, bring Dopesmoker, The Frogs' It's Only Right and Natural, and, of course, Jon Wayne Texas Funeral! And the Derek tape...
4. Opeth -- Blackwater Park
Hearing this record got me into metal again after ignoring the scene for much of the 90's. My friends complain about how the Opeth guy sings emo one second and death style the next, but the guitar playing and arrangements are so stellar that I can ignore the overall incongruous feeling of some of their music.
5. At the Gates -- Slaughter of the Soul
I heard The Haunted before I knew about this and love both bands. Like a 90's Swedish version of my fave 80's thrash bands but more melodic sense. Records like this make me appreciate songwriting so much more than crappy indy stuff that people consider songwriter-y. It's that attention to detail!
6. Mastodon -- Leviathan
Mastodon is my favorite modernish rock-metal-whatever type band. I think this is their most consistent and more punk-sounding record, but they have really good songs on the records after this. Neurosis is still great and all, but I think Mastodon took their cue and made it more listenable.
6. Enslaved -- Monumension
These guys are cool because they really seem to think outside the box. They have this great classic Celtic Frost feel to their tunes but throw in psychedelic prog and even post-punky themes and sounds into the mix. It's dark but also seems kinda funny. This is the band I play for people who think "black metal" is one certain stupid style.
6. Entombed -- Left Hand Path
It's just a classic. So many people have tried to capture the buzzy feel of the guitar tones on this record. My favorite track from this era, though, is "Dead Shall Rise" by Terrorizer.
Honorable mentions to Candlemass Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Hellhammer Triumph of Death, and Kreator Pleasure to Kill!
Photo by Shannon Corr.