At its heart, metal has always been about pushing boundaries, and no young band has explored the outer realms of the genre as deftly as Deafheaven. Formed in San Francisco in 2010, the band nailed a unique fusion of overdriven black metal and softer shoegaze on their 2013 breakthrough LP Sunbather. “That mixture of influences has kind of always been our thing, much to some peoples’ annoyance,” the band’s guitarist, Kerry McCoy, told Rolling Stone with a laugh in 2015.
The guitar tones on Sunbather alternate between bitter and sweet, and the tempos either pummel or gently pulse, as frontman George Clarke growls like a wounded animal. Moreover, Sunbather’s echoey production and adventurous songcraft earned it a place on Rolling Stone’s recently published list of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.
In an effort to poll metal artists from different generations while making that list, including Ozzy Osbourne, Lars Ulrich and Corey Taylor, among others, we reached out to Deafheaven’s Clarke and asked him what his favorite metal albums are. He emailed us back a list of 10 picks that range from LPs by obscure, sometimes controversial black-metal artists to some of the biggest names in thrash. Here is what he picked, in alphabetical order.