It’s just not that easy for Abysmal Dawn‘s Charles Elliott; he just can’t stick to five albums. He tries to push for 10 when we give our man the chance to talk about the five heavy albums that changed his life, but we tell him to keep it to five. But he just can’t: he gives us some runners-up when he sends in his full list (they are: Machine Head – Burn My Eyes; Entombed – Wolverine Blues; Testament – Low; Nile – Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka); his enthusiasm for metal is pretty obvious.
But anyone can tell that when spinning Abysmal Dawn’s new EP, the fantastic Nightmare Frontier, out now on Season of Mist. To help get into Elliott’s mind a bit more, here’s what he has to say about the top five heavy albums that changed his life.
Death – Human (1991)
This is their best album, in my opinion, with Symbolic being a close second for me. The first time I ever tried weed (not really my thing, though), I remember arguing for hours with my bandmates about which album was better. I was into fusion like Allan Holdsworth and Tribal Tech at the time, and to hear a bit of that in death metal floored me. The out-of-the-box lead playing of Paul [Masvidal] blew my mind, and Sean [Reinert]’s drumming on that record created the standard by which all metal drummers would now be judged. The songs are pissed and oddly heavier sounding than a guitar would usually sound in D standard. Chuck [Schuldiner]’s voice sounds great on it, as well. They were far sicker compared to Spiritual Healing, which they maybe went overboard on enunciating everything. I think that was Sean and Paul’s influence too, from stories they told me.
Carcass – Heartwork (1993)
This was just the heaviest goddamn guitar tone ever for decades. I loved how aggressive the music was while still being melodic, as well. All the guitar solos by Mike [Amott] and Bill [Steer] are just classic; one of my favorite guitar duos of all time, for sure. Jeff Walker’s vocals were so different from all the other death metal vocalists at the time, too. And I loved the way he used the English language in his lyrics. Besides the use of big words, they always had a clever twist or subtle dark sense of humor. I believe I have Beavis and Butthead to thank for exposing me to this band.
At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul (1995)
After I heard Heartwork I wanted more of this new melodic death metal thing. Earache threw in a free promo cassette of this album, which I think I got when I ordered some Entombed CDs or something. The thing that struck me the most about them was how aggressive they sounded, yet sort of sad. Tomas [Lindberg] sounds like he’s being tortured and the melodies are kind of forlorn sounding. Tomas’ lyrics had a great influence on me, too. I liked how if you just read his lyrics out loud, they could very well be mistaken for poetry.
Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane (1995)
I love the dark vibe of this album and production. This record just sounded like it was recorded in the dead of winter somewhere. I think it’s that incredible reverb sound on the toms. This album and some of the earlier Dark Funeral and Immortal records represent the type of production I love for the more brutal black metal bands. I liked some black metal when I first heard this—ie: Emperor and early Cradle Of Filth—but this was the epitome of what I wanted out of a black metal band at the time. It’s just chock full of amazing riffs, catchy melodies and well-constructed epic songs.
Fear Factory – Demanufacture (1995)
This album was just the tightest thing ever recorded at the time. I was a big fan of dystopian science fiction as a kid and a big fan of Psalm 69-era Ministry. This kind of took that and what, say, Godflesh was doing to the next level; more intricate songwriting and riffs. I remember calling into this hotline that would play like 10 seconds of music from each single off the record. I think that’s how I first checked them out after maybe reading about them in Metal Maniacs. I would do that and then go buy the CD at a local store instead of ordering from them. That was something we did in the ’90s, when we weren’t streaming shitty 15-second MP3 samples. I think the T-shirt for this record was the first metal band shirt I ever owned, as well.