5. Morbid Angel, 'Altars of Madness' (1989)
That was a stepping stone into heavier music for me, more extreme music. Because I wanted to be cool and listen to the heaviest type of heavy metal, if you know what I mean, but I didn't like Venom. I thought they were shit. Now I kind of like them, but I just thought they couldn't play because I was a big fan of Uli John Roth and Ritchie Blackmore. Like, "Where's the guitar solo? Where's the good singer? Where's the riff?" ... I just couldn't... I tried with bands like Sodom and after a while I started liking bits and pieces here and there, but Altars of Madness changed a lot for me. It just catapulted me into that world, more than Sodom and those bands had done before. I was kind of pretending to like [Sodom's] Obsessed by Cruelty, but I didn't really like it. ... Like, I made a patch on my jacket that said Sodom, but when I came back home, I put on Fireball by Deep Purple [laughs].
But Altars of Madness was my first genuine love, when it comes to extreme forms of music. I thought that was a very musical record, and it spoke to me as an aspiring guitar player. At the time, I was in a band, my first band, and we were playing some kind of thrash, death-metal type thing because we figured ... you know, nobody could sing and it was a way out for singers who couldn't sing – just scream instead. But Morbid Angel had that finesse that a lot of the other death-metal bands didn't have, as far as I was concerned. And I absolutely fell in love with that record. And to this day, if I'm drunk, I will probably be sitting with my beer, and you put on that record and I'm gonna be miming along with all the lyrics. It's a phenomenal death-metal record. Also, it's got the best death-metal vocalist of all time in David Vincent.
So it's on the list because, like I said, it's my stepping stone into extreme forms of metal music. And I owe that album and that band a lot, because that's when my interest in this type of music really started to happen and when I really started to develop as a songwriter because I could see that you could do intricate things with death-metal music. You didn't just have to play fast all the time, stupid fucking riffs – you didn't even call them riffs. You could do something a bit more elaborate, like that record, and it really helped me in my search for a musical identity of my own, I think.
It also has guitar solos, and I love guitar solos. Even if they were a bit Slayer-ish, there was a certain Eddie Van Halen touch to Trey Azagthoth's playing. And lo and behold, he is a big fan of Eddie Van Halen. Like I say, it was just the musicality to that band that didn't really exist in the other bands. They were focusing more on being brutal, or "heavy." And Morbid Angel still were brutal-sounding and heavy, but they also had that finesse, that I don't think even the band Death had that until later on. And I love Death. Leprosy is a fantastic record – should have been on this list. But Morbid Angel just blew the competition away.