I’d been stoked to hear the new full-length from Ruby the Hatchet ever since I saw them open for Floor in early 2014. Now that it’s dropped, I’ve been jamming Valley of the Snake on a daily basis — it’s one of the more enjoyable “debuts” (it’s the band’s second record but first label release) I’ve heard in recent memory. So on that note, the Philadelphia quintet was kind enough to tell us about their favorite inaugural albums. The list is not only pretty diverse–which makes sense when it has five contributors–but pairs well with Pallbearer’s similarly themed playlist from way back in 2012. If you haven’t yet, you can read all about RtH in our latest issue, not to mention pick up a copy of the group’s LP here.
Judas Priest–Rocka Rolla (1974)
My very favorite Priest album! Although, I must admit, I am a debut album junkie…there is something so striking about the rawness and excitement of a band’s first album. But with all of my first album sentiment aside, Rocka Rolla kicks serious ass. This album was monumental as an inspiration for me both vocally and vibe-wise. I would listen to it over and over on a cassette tape in my ex-boyfriend’s ’87 Mercedes until it pretty much broke (the tape and the car). Despite issues with production value, I love that every instrument on this album has room to breathe while working together to orchestrate pure gold. Rob Halford is such a powerhouse and Rocka Rolla in particular built upon my infatuation of soaring vocals in heavy music. Halford’s operatic belting and wailing combined with his lyrical content and those deeply shaking guitar riffs always leave me satisfied.–Jillian Taylor (vocals)
Heart–Dreamboat Annie (1976)
Two words: Wilson sisters. They are magic and there is no doubt what they were put on this earth to do. Ann Wilson is in my book for all-time range and writing influence. It is no exaggeration to say that Dreamboat Annie is fire. I love everything about it from the memorable riffs to the lioness vocals topped with perfect harmonies–and that mini-moog synth filling in the space so perfectly. A faultless mix of heavy hitters and slow, poetic thought pieces. Can you imagine the first track on your debut album being “Magic Man”? And what a huge motivator, to see some ladies wailing just as hard as the guys! I would probably trade my first born to have been at one of those Heart/Zeppelin concerts, but don’t tell that to my future husband.–J.T.
Metallica–Kill ‘Em All (1983)
A total classic and one of the most groundbreaking debut albums ever! In 1983, nothing sounded like this. I wasn’t born when Kill ‘Em All debuted, but the first time I ever heard it was hanging upside down on a Gravitron at some carnival in Asbury Park, NJ with my sister in the ’90s. Some metal dude was at the controls blasting “Jump in the Fire” and I just remember feeling wild and infinite as we screamed for him to spin us faster. I don’t think I was ever the same after that…there was thrash in my blood. There is so much energy on that record, and regardless of debates on lineup and sound quality, it remains one of my favorites ever.J.T.
The Mars Volta–De-Loused In The Comatorium (2003)
Looking back, I realize now that when I first heard this debut, I was in dire need of exactly what it delivered. Progressive, conceptual albums were so prevalent in my formative years of listening to music, and around the time this came out, I was drifting away from them for one reason or another. De-Loused shoved me back into that world, and I will always be thankful for that. In my opinion, the best albums are the ones that can fuse multiple genres together into a cohesive work, and De-Loused has that in spades. Drifting seamlessly between rock, jazz, prog, electronic, ambient, Latin and punk, to this day, it’s unlike anything I’ve heard. After the success of At the Drive-In, Omar and Cedric could have rehashed that, but instead they used it as a foundation to build something more sonically expansive and daring.–Mike Parise (bass)
This album was a major turning point for me when I first heard it. Mostly it was an answer to a question that a naive 19 year old was brewing on. Why didn’t anyone currently make music that sounded like my favorite classic rock albums? At the time I had just finished high school and was really getting into classic rock. Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, Cream–the list goes on. However, it really bothered me that everything I was getting into had already had its time. I would never see any of these bands live and in their prime. That sucked to think about. At that time the only access I had to new music was through skate videos. Toy Machine’s Suffer the Joy had just come out and Johnny Layton had the ending part sound tracked with Wolfmother’s “Dimension”. At first I thought it was some Sabbath track I had not heard so I quickly went to the computer only to discover it was a new band from Australia. Fuck yeah! Australia rules and they have the world’s deadliest everything. Spiders, sharks, snakes and now Wolfmother. I was even more sold when I went to pick up the CD, and was exposed to Frank Frazetta’s painting that they used for the cover art. At the time it was everything I was hoping to discover and it definitely pointed the compass in the direction that I have been heading in since.–Johnny Scarps (guitar)
Serpent Throne–Ride Satan Ride (2007)
I’m sure most of us have seen Last Days Here, the documentary of Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling. When I first saw it, I had not ever heard of Pentagram, so naturally after the film was over I did some internet digging and found out that the guys who made the film also played in an instrumental ’70s riff worshiping metal band called Serpent Throne. I found a track or two streaming online and was instantly hooked. Then I found out that not only were they from Philly but they were playing a show that same night. Best day ever.–J.S.
Scorpions–Lonesome Crow (1972)
Anytime I ask someone if they like the Scorpions, they give me this sort of vacant look and pause for a moment. I can see them forming all sorts of opinions behind their behind their eyes while they question whether I’ve lost my mind or not. That’s when I usually cue up “I’m Goin’ Mad” and sit back and watch them slowly eat their fist. While some bands may have not survived existence in the ’80s that doesn’t mean that their back catalog is crap too. The first few Scorpions records are proof of that. Lonesome Crow was their first album and it found the band exploring all sorts of directions. It’s also the only Scorpions album to feature Michael Schenker as a full-time member, who would leave after the first album to join UFO. I admire the bravery of Klause Meine’s vocals on this album. He really gets into some wild parts that most vocalists wouldn’t dare attempt. In my opinion it keeps the spotlight on the whole band, instead of only Schenker’s ridiculous shredding. Don’t get caught up in the winds of change and give Lonesome Crow a shot.–J.S.
Crabby Appleton–Crabby Appleton (1970)
Crabby Appleton is a tasteful and crafty mix of blues, country, funk and psyche. This album is has everything from ripping upbeat funk/psych jams to beautiful slow ballads. This record is easily one of the best kept secrets of 1970. My favorite track is “Peace by Peace”.–Owen Stewart (drums)
The Band–Music From Big Pink (1968)/The Band (1969)
These two albums are really part of the same batch. When they released these two in 1968 and 1969, they were an antithesis of what was going on in the rock world of the late 1960s. Here was a group focused on songs and musicianship and truly authentic, having honed their chops as a backing R&B group. In my opinion, in terms of the best bands at the time, England had the Beatles and America had The Band. The secret was in their chemistry, quirky and balanced sound, and humility–their willingness to share leads and not overplay and self mix was a revelation to many rockers who were languishing in the psychedelic sound by the late ’60s. When I understood their greatness over a decade ago, I felt like The Beatles and Clapton at the time; utterly depressed at how great their group was and how much lesser we all were, and how much we all wanted to be in there with them.Sean Hur (organ)
*Pick up a copy of Valley of the Snake here
**For past Decibrity entries, click here