First of all, creating this top 5 list was challenging! Distilling all the amazing artists that have influenced me and that I look up to is no easy task, never mind which album to choose. Ask me in a month and there will probably be other records on the list… But let’s get started!
1. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast might not be the best Maiden record (debatable), but it is their first with Bruce Dickinson on vocals and the start of a game-changing era. But the main reason I chose the Beast is “Run to the Hills“, which was one of those tracks that influenced me very early on, even before I actually got into metal. Listening to it as a teenager, the galloping guitar rhythm – synonymous with Maiden and power metal – combined with the vocal harmonies in the chorus evoked a real epic feeling, and still does to this day. Not to mention the very heavy lyrical theme dealing with America’s colonisation from the perspective of indigenous people.
2. Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz
There are multiple reasons for this pick: Ozzy’s first solo record – have to love Ozzy. Randy Rhoads on guitar – absolute legend, and a tragedy that he passed away so young. And of course “Mr. Crowley“ – a true masterpiece if you ask me.
3. Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
Dream Theater will always be one of my all-time favourites. I appreciate they might be somewhat of a “musicians’ band”, but the technicality and musical proficiency of every single band member is staggering and second to none (at least without venturing into the jazz/fusion space). Also, John Petrucci has always been a major influence and massive motivation for me as a guitarist. And Metropolis Pt. 2 is, in my opinion, their greatest record. As a concept album, it is like an opera or theatre piece encloaked in (progressive) metal, a multi-layered story of life, death, reincarnation and deceit.
4. Unleash the Archers – Apex
One of the best modern power metal and female-fronted bands, in my opinion. A lot of heavier death metal influences sprinkled in here and there as well (albeit a lot less than in their earlier records), a phenomenal singer, two talented guitarists trading solos, great drums and bass, and, most importantly for me, extremely catchy melodies. Looking at my previous Maiden pick, it is like they took “Run to the Hills“ and cranked up the epicness, speed, and aggression to 11. The follow-up Abyss is great, too.
5. Wytch Hazel – III: Pentecost
I actually only got into Wytch Hazel with III: Pentecost, but they quickly became one of my most frequently streamed bands. Very unique sound and great melodies. Each song is catchy as hell (ironic to say “hell”, considering they are a Christian metal band, but you know what I mean)! It doesn’t happen often that I listen to a new record and can’t decide which tracks are the obvious bangers, but this is one of them. If I would have to chose, some highlights for me are “I Am Redeemed“ and “Spirit and Fire“. Their back-catalogue, especially II: Sojourn, is great too!
A few honorable mentions: Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny, Eternal Champion – The Armor of Ire, Symphony X – Divine Wings of Tragedy, Pantera – Cowboys from Hell… I could go on, but I have to stop somewhere I guess!
Massive thanks to the Epic Metal Blog team for having me again, it was fun!