All Hail Virologist Timothy Sheahan: Metal Militia — Pandemic Division

When Timothy Sheahan suits up to enter the Biosafety Level 3 lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, the expert virologist — widely acknowledged as one of coronavirus’ fiercest foes by a diverse array of outlets ranging from the Washington Post (“The world is looking to Timothy Sheahan for hope”) to GQ (“Think your job has gotten strange in the past month?​ ​​Imagine being tasked with rescuing humanity from a pandemic”) — goes in armed not only with state of the art personal protective gear and a battery powered air purifying respirator, but also an discerning and vitalizing set of extremely extreme jams.

“I actually have a playlist from 2018 called ‘Night Metal’ for working in the lab evenings that is all My Dying Bride, Godflesh, Shadows Fall, In Flames and Neurosis,” Sheahan tells Decibel. “Although more recently I have been playing a lot of Steve Von Till’s A Deep Voiceless Wilderness, which is very meditative and moving.”

Which is to say, one of the heroes of this ongoing pandemic nightmare is a card-carrying member of the Metal Militia. Better still, Sheahan — an accomplished musician himself; follow his current stellar work as Everyday Knife Fight (follow on Instagram, pls) or revisit his amazing ’90s post-hardcore band New Jersey Fairplan — was kind enough to take time out of music that he has gravitated toward while working on treatments for COVID-19.

1. Strike Anywhere: “How to Pray”

I have been a sucker for melodic harcore ever since I heard Lifetime’s Jersey’s Best Dancers many years ago. It’s just the music version of coffee without all the peeing. Strike Anywhere consistently writes songs with great hooks.

2. Circle Jerks: “Wasted”

Keith Morris has been a punk rock powerhouse for decades. “Wasted” is an example of effective and powerful storytelling in less than a minute.

3. Fantomas: “Der Golem”

This track is sooo heavy and exemplifies Mike Patton and friend’s delighltfully demented takes on horror movie soundtrack theme songs that make up this record. Tony Lombardo’s drumming is amazing here.

4. Lifetime: “Northbound Breakdown”

My all time favorite hardcore band asks, “I hope you are in your car right now turnining this shit up so loud.” I certainly do when I spin this on the way home from work. You will, too.

5. Propaghandi: “Failed Imagineer”

This band blends aspects of metal, punk and hardcore with fluidity that is unparralelled. Bill Stevenson from Descendents once commented on how sick Chris Hannah’s guitar playing was while also singing over it. I recently had this on while waiting to pick up my kids at their elementary school when the dad behind me got out of his car and asked me what I was listening to because he could hear it from his car and it sounded rad. See. This shit is good. People like it.

6. At the Drive In: “Sleepwalk Capsules”

The post hardcore of El Paso Texas’ ATDI is heavy, noisy, emotive and melodic. I love the voice of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, which sounds like if Walter from Quicksand and Zach de la Rocha’s voice had a baby.

7. Dead Kennedys: “Well Paid Scientist”

The Dead Kennedys playing is next level. This song is funny to me because most scientists I know are not well-paid and they put in lots or hours for not a lot of money compared to business dudes and lawyers. I went to school longer than them, too.

8. Converge: “Empty on the Inside”

I remember hearing this band’s first record in my friend Ken’s dorm room at UMASS in 1995. They were breaking new ground back then and still are today.

9. OFF!: “Panic Attack”

Keith Morris from Circle Jerks updates that sound I’ve loved for decades with OFF!. The raw energy is intoxicating. The songs are all very short. It’s over in 20 minutes. Play this loud.

10. Neurosis: “Lost”

Early on in the pandemic, this record got a lot of mileage when I was staying up late writing up results from experiments. It’s so slow and heavy and puts me in a meditative trance late at night, which is perfect for productivity!