At the Gates, 'Slaughter of the Soul' (1995)
I would go to Bionic Records everyday after school. And there was a guy there named Mike, and he would just be playing death metal, thrash metal, black metal in the store when he worked. He introduced me to In Flames. He introduced me to Dark Tranquillity.
One day that he introduced me to At the Gates. I walk in, I go, "What is this?" 'Cause I was really into punk rock, as well. I was into speed and the ferocity of a lot of that stuff. I was like, "Well, every song can't be like that. I mean that's unbelievable." And he's like, "No. Get Slaughter of the Soul. Here's the CD. You'll thank me later." I was in my car, and it was just like you're just getting smashed in the face with a brick the whole record. Not only that, the riffs were great, the songwriting was great, the recording sounded good. It had its soft moments, but when it did, it would come back and just kick you in the gut again. So for me, that record changed everything for me because I realized there's bands out there that are just doing it heavier, stronger, and better than everyone, but they're also writing great songs and it's also very melodic in a way.
I've found a lot of the black metal stuff for me, personally, the riffs weren't great, but with At the Gates, I found that record stayed in my car for a year straight, and I showed it to every person I could. I think we use a lot of that stuff in Avenged, where it's just that one-two thrash beat. It was a big one for me.
We actually played a show with them in Belgium when they reunited. I'd imagined them to be the craziest-looking crazy men of all time, and it was funny because they're just normal dudes up there, killing it. ... I was like, "Wow, this is crazy, man. You guys are just like me, man."