Iron Maiden: Out Of The Silent Planet – Brave New World
Before I encountered Iron Maiden, the heaviest thing I’d heard was Ronnie James Dio. I vividly remember a friend passing me a Discman with a bootlegged copy inside, I would have been around thirteen at the time. The music clicked with me immediately; the harmonised lead guitars, battered percussion and theatrical vocals. It was basically everything I wanted from music but hadn’t realised it yet.
A friend made me a cassette of the album and I listened to it incessantly much to the chagrin of my family. Out Of The Silent Planet is my favourite track on the album and for me represents everything that can be great about Metal.
Dark Tranquillity: Cathode Ray Sunshine – Damage Done
Dark Tranquillity are a great example of the so called Melodeath genre (Melodic Death Metal) In particular the ‘Gothenburg Sound’, named for their hometown.
The album Damage Done was released in 2002 and was the bands sixth full release.
This music was more atmospheric and heavier than what I was used to, the rhythm guitars are blurred and indistinct and synths set drones in the background.
The vocals are primarily roared, but had great clarity of diction to them. Mikael Stanne’s voice inspired me so much that when I left high school I began screaming in a band. Cathode Ray Sunshine was the first track we ever rehearsed and performed.
Eternal Tears Of Sorrow: Aeon – A Virgin & A Whore
Many bands got swept along in the wave CoB created and Eternal Tears Of Sorrow are one of them. Their music was a combination of Melodeath and Black Metal, with huge synth led arrangements at the forefront of importance, especially on the album A Virgin & A Whore.
By this point I had fully embraced the synthesisers place in extreme metal. What ETOS demonstrated though, was that metal could be piano driven too and still retain those beloved heavy qualities.
Aeon is a perfect example of this. The delay rich piano drives the piece and the guitars and synths duel back and forth.
Evergrey: The Masterplan – In Search Of Truth
I first heard him perform guest vocals with Nightrage before encountering him again with Evergrey. The technical quality of his singing and the passion with which he does so inspired me to really learn to sing.
In Search Of Truth is a concept album about the impact alien abductions can have on their victims, there are twists and a big reveal too. The Masterplan was my first Evergrey song, I remember downloading it from their website at the time.
Storytelling is king with Evergrey and it can get quite personal too. Englund is probably my favourite vocalist of all time and one of my biggest influences as a songwriter.
Katatonia: Unfurl – July EP
Where the previous bands taught me about bombast, Katatonia showed me subtlety.
Jonas Renske’s story is in itself very interesting. He began as a screamer and eventually exhausted his voice, forcing him to switch to singing. His progress can be charted over the course of each subsequent album with him eventually becoming the global talent he is today.
Unfurl first appeared as a B side but would come to define the laid back vibe the band eventually came to adopt. Katatonia still go heavy, but always with the silky smooth vocals of Renske driving the sound.
I learned and performed Unfurl as part of my vocal tuition late last year and gained an even greater respect for the quiet yet intense sound I love.