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Adam's Blog #4: 5 Most Important Albums to Me

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    Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 9:55am
We all have them – albums that we consider to be the most important to our musical journey through life. They aren't necessarily our favourite albums of all time though, in fact we may not even listen to some of them all that much any more. But they're still important to us. In this latest entry I've going to talk about five albums that I feel changed the course of my development as a metalhead. 

1.

Blind Guardian - Tales from the Twilight World (1990)


Blind Guardian is my favourite band so including one of their album's in this list is obligatory. It had to be Tales from the Twilight World as it was my first album from them. Before Blind Guardian my favourite band had changed a lot. I still rank some of the previous holders of this accolade in such high esteem to include them in the short-list of my all time favourites, but no one's ever come close to dethroning Blind Guardian. I got this album in 2008 and while I can't say that Blind Guardian instantly become my favourite band they worked their way up to it over the next couple of years and that's something I don't see ever changing now. Tales from the Twilight World is still in my top three albums from them, and they are for me a rare artist that has produced a 'golden trio'; three five stars albums on the trot, the others being Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations from the Other Side, two albums which I honestly still have trouble with deciding between, as both are just so damn good and complement each other so well. If finding your favourite band isn't a groundbreaking moment in your development as a metalhead then nothing is.

2.

Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle (1998)


Blind Guardian may be my favourite band, but I have to admit that it's another artist from my short-list of all time favourites that has managed to clinch the position of my favourite album of all time. So for similar reasons to the above, Ayreon's Into the Electric Castle has to be included here. But there are other reasons that this album is important to me, as Ayreon has never been just a metal artist, and I'd credit this album to opening me up to other types of music such as progressive rock and folk music, while Ayreon has also long proven to be an excellent way to discover many other artists due to all the guest vocalists that Arjen Lucassen has on his albums.

Since I decided to limit this list to five albums, it's difficult to pick albums for the next two positions as there are actually three or four that could be mentioned for different reasons. Maybe one day I'll do a follow-up to this post, but for now I've got to go with...

3.

Arch Enemy - Anthems of Rebellion (2003)


You know, I don't actually think that Anthems of Rebellion is that good of an Arch Enemy album, but it was my first encounter with harsh vocals. Or at least a song from it was, that being Silent Wars. Initially I was only impressed with the band for their guitar work, but I quickly started to find some appreciation for the extreme side of metal. I do believe that I purchased Doomsday Machine before this one (I'd guess that this discovery happened in 2004 at the earliest and probably not until 2005, but I don't remember for certain), and I had bought some metalcore albums that were hyped at the time as that was the sort of thing I was being exposed to by the magazine's I was reading and the TV that I had to watch (I didn't have the Internet until a bit later), but I'll always consider Anthems of Rebellion to be my first taste of extreme metal, so for that alone a place in this list. I can't say that it was this album that completely won me over though, in fact I wouldn't even be sold on death metal for quite a few years at this point (I bought Death's Leprosy in 2008 but for a few years I would note it as the only 'straight' death metal album in my CD collection). I wouldn't say that my journey into the world of metal has had a normal progression (if there even is such a thing), which brings me to the next entry on this list, the album that really sold me on extreme metal (just not death metal):

4.

Forest Silence - Philosophy of Winter (2006)


You may ask 'who?' and be right to do so. Surely bigger names are those who first interest you in a new genre you've found, not some unknown band with their first (and still only) album? Well, that's how it happened when I discovered Forest Silence and they introduced me to black metal and firmly made me a fan of a extreme metal music, as well as making me realise that metal didn't always have to be about aggression, that it could also be this atmospheric thing that I was now hearing. So this band deserves a double credit really, both for selling me on extreme metal and expanding my horizons about the metal genre as a whole. Is it unusual for someone to get sold on black metal before things like death and thrash? In point of fact I got this album and started exploring other (better known) black metal acts before several other genres in earnest, including believe it or not, power metal, which I currently consider my favourite genre.

I always knew what album I would list last in this blog entry. I think it'll be a surprising one, at least to anyone who doesn't know me or spoken to me often online. Yep, it's Metallica's St. Anger.


5.

Metallica - St. Anger (2003)


That's right, one of the most hated metal album's ever made is in my top five most important albums to me. Makes no sense right? Well actually it does, but you need to rewind to when it was released in 2003 and then put yourself in my shoes. I was, I think, quite a late starter when it comes to music and had only been starting to get into it for a couple of years and in that time what I was being exposed to was what was making the UK charts at the time. There were a few things I liked, some of which I would now call major missteps and am embarrassed to even mention. Let's just say that Nickelback was far from the worse thing I listened to during those years and leave it at that. Then suddenly Metallica releases a new album, their first since I started getting into music and everything changes. Man I listened to St. Anger so much in this early days. Watched the bonus DVD version plenty of times as well. I actually reckon that if my Last.fm was able to go back in time and capture everything I listened to before having it St. Anger would be ranked as one of my most played albums. This was my gateway album into metal altogether. Without this album I'm not sure I would even be a metalhead now. Yes, like most I no longer rate this album particularly high, but without this I would not have gone out and bought Kill 'em All (thus discovering that Metallica could in fact sound a lot better than I realised) or any other Metallica classics like Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets. Without St. Anger I would have not started buying Metal Hammer and finding many of my early metal bands in its pages or on its free CD's (which includes the Forest Silence album above). Without St. Anger when Sky TV was added to my house (seemingly after everyone else had it) I would not have started watching Scuzz and finding new bands that way, likewise when the Internet was added to my house (again seemingly after everyone else already had it) I would not have sat in our freezing cold hall most evenings looking for new music on YouTube, which at the time could be pretty damn slow and unreliable, especially with the garbage dial-up Internet we used at the time (I still have nostalgia for those evenings to be honest). Without St. Anger I would not have started socialising with other metalheads online, or founded my own metal forum Heavy Metal Haven when YouTube got too idiotic for us. I certainly wouldn't be on MMA either, not as a collab, admin, or reviewer. More than any other album, St. Anger changed my life.


Rather ironic isn't it?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Unitron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 11:06am
Really nice read, and your story with St. Anger was especially engaging. It's interesting how varied someone's important albums can be, and how some of those important albums end up being criticized later on.

As for me, my parents enjoyed metal, so I was always exposed to classic metal and also more recent stuff (At the time) like Soundgarden and Godsmack. I'm not sure if I could say many particular albums made a huge impact on me as much as certain bands had. Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" and Judas Priest's "Screaming for Vengeance" are a couple of albums that really made an impact for me. Most of all, Rush is probably what made the strongest impact on me though, as they really got me into music and made me want to explore more music for myself.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nightfly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 4:03pm
Interesting read Adam. We all have those albums that mean a lot and sometimes that first encounter with a band can never be beaten. Rush for example - I discovered them just as A Farewell To Kings was released and was totally blown away. here was a band that fused my 2 favourite genres of music at the time (prog and hard rock) and did it brilliantly with great musicianship. I saw them on that tour and that gig was equalled by other bands I saw but never bettered. I backtracked on Rush's earlier albums and found more great music, they released more great albums too but none hit me the way AFTK did.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vim Fuego Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 5:54pm
That's a good story. I think I could probably do important albums several times over, for metal in general, non-metal, thrash, death metal, but doubt I could limit myself to just 5 like that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Apr 2016 at 4:52am
I didn't want to go overboard in a single entry, but I could easily do a follow-up to this, including albums such as the one that eventually sold me on death metal and the one that got me properly into thrash metal. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Apr 2016 at 4:07pm
In point of fact I've already started writing part two of this, though I'm not sure when I'll post it. Got to think hard on a couple of the albums to be included. 
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