Five Heavy Albums that Changed My Life with Mic Dion of Altered Dead

Victoria, BC-based grimy death duo Altered Dead recently dropped their second full-length, the gruesomely fantastic Returned to Life, on Memento Mori. To celebrate the release of this death metal album most foul, we caught up with guitarist/bassist/vocalist Mic Dion to find out what five heavy albums changed his life.

“As this is top five albums, I feel I’ve left some bands out that are important to me to mention,” says Dion. “Obviously, the genre I play wouldn’t be where it is without bands like Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Unleashed, Grave, Gorefest, Exhumed and so many more. So, thank you for creating some of my favourite albums to date!”

Metallica – Kill ’em All (1983)
When I think of records that changed my life, I think of Metallica, Kill ’em All. I received this on cassette one Christmas from my brother Marc as a gift when I was 8 or 9. I remember opening it up and seeing that hammer with the blood and that logo, and my eyes went wide. I had never owned a metal album at this point. I opened it up and tossed it into my Walkman; I must’ve listened to it on repeat for the entire day. This record opened the doors to my search for heavier and heavier records, later finding Venom then Bathory, which sounded a lot like Kill ’em All to me… I wonder why? I was learning guitar/bass by ear at this time and it was one of the first albums I tackled when starting out. It was a ton of fun to figure out. Definitely a good gateway band for me.

Minor Threat – Complete Discography (1989)
I really got into this band in high school. I had heard more mainstream punk at the time, but this had an extreme sense of urgency and passion to its music and lyrics that I didn’t feel the other bands lived up to (just one jerk’s opinion). To me, it had a clear message and direction. The song structures were beyond three-chord punk and were more imaginative than its predecessors. It was all the things a kid could want. My friend Ross and I would get together in his basement and rip this album, Black Flag, Misfits, etc. We wrote a bunch of punk/metal music, and that was really my first experience working on writing music with someone else. Another gateway band I think a lot of people have had the joys of experiencing.

Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987)
I was obsessed with this band growing up. It was the perfect mix of metal, thrash and punk. The album artwork on the first five records are so eye-catching, and that’s why and how I found them. Ripping through the used bins at the local record shops was always a good time. I’d found Arise and Chaos A.D., later Beneath the Remains and Morbid/Bestial; each one had their own style but it was Schizophrenia that was the most elusive to my collection. At the time, it was out of print and no shop could order it in; the internet was in its infancy so even finding digital was a no-go. I eventually came across this innocent-looking music shop in a small town, the type of place that looked like it carried the top 40s. I had time to kill and decided to check it out with my friend. Lo and behold, under the used S section, there it was. It completed my collection… My friend and I went back to his truck and put it on. What a ferocious album—it instantly connected Morbid Visions and Beneath the Remains; the raspy vocals added that extra layer that set this album apart from the others to me. This was a major influence on me, for sure.

Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse (1994)
Well, it was 3 am and it was well past my bedtime, but staying up to catch LOUD on MuchMusic was what I did at that age. Again, internet wasn’t really a thing everyone had, but LOUD was 30 minutes of metal videos, [and they] would play some pretty underground stuff at that time, like Gorefest, Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, Ancient, etc, but when they introduced me to Emperor, that was a game-changer for me. The video of “The Loss and Curse of Reverence” put a spotlight on black metal. I had to find Emperor. When I did, I found a copy of In the Nightside Eclipse; it was on another level from bands I heard in the past, completely new to me. It was haunting and dripping with atmosphere, the duality of the guitars and the dissonance created—I was hooked. This album takes you places, and really showed me there was a lot more to the metal genre than the thrash and death metal I had known!

Brutal Truth – Need to Control (1994)
This was the first Brutal Truth album I had ever heard. It had so much to take in when I first listened to it that I had to listen to it a second time immediately after the first play. I didn’t even realize I was listening to grind at the time. I thought bands like Brutal Truth, Assück, Napalm Death, etc., was just death metal with higher vocals thrown into the mix. I was waaay off. This band showed me that you could fuse punk/death metal/doom so seamlessly and perfectly, and that music did in fact get more extreme than I had previously imagined. Grind is definitely a must if you ever liked punk or death metal. The structures and flow on this album will stay with me forever.