In My Vinyl Offering, we get up close and personal with your favorite musicians and friends to find out the most cherished parts of their record, CD or tape collection. This time around we feature the CD collection of writer Angel.
The first CD I ever bought with my own money was…
Eminem – The Eminem Show.
Given most people reading this know me as a metalhead, this may seem an odd choice, but believe it or not, I’ve been a fan of rap longer than I’ve been a fan of metal. Like many people, Eminem was my gateway in, which then quickly branched out into groups like Atmosphere, Cannibal Ox, Gang Starr, and too many MCs to name. It’s a genre I still take a lot of interest in, especially with talented UK artists. I don’t listen to Eminem so much these days, but I can still remember 90% of the densely-woven lyrics and rap along with him.
The CD that made me want to make music was…
Kamelot – The Black Halo / Ghost Opera
The first album showed me just how emotionally potent and thought-provoking music can be. To this day, Roy Khan remains one of my top three vocalists from his work in Kamelot and Conception, and I give him a lot of credit for me taking interest in both singing and lyric writing. I put the latter album here as recognition for the song “The Human Stain”, which was the first song that I started with learning how to sing (a project which is still, ahem, a work in progress).
The CD I’ve played more than any other is…
Anaal Nathrakh – In the Constellation of the Black Widow
A yardstick by which you can measure any band in the black/death/grind realm. Anaal Nathrakh are my absolute favorite, and choosing a top album of theirs is like choosing between children, but I can definitely say that In the Constellation… is the one I’ve listened to the most. The sheer unrelenting savagery in the vocals (matched only by Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation – oof) and the maniacal screeching guitars and the whirlwind drumming … and yet strangely it has a calming energy from it. Perhaps due to its familiarity – I know every note and beat like the back of my hand, and as such it allows me to get whatever I’m doing done efficiently (and with a lot of energy!) Just a great record all round.
The CD that always makes me feel good is…
Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing
This band came up on my radar around the time of The End of Heartache (I remember the video for “Rose of Sharyn” got pretty heavy rotation on heavy music channels), and by chance, I stumbled upon the video for “My Last Serenade”. I found myself drawn to the intense emotional delivery of Jesse Leach, and quickly picked up Alive or Just Breathing, which quickly became my go-to ‘pump up’ music. Still to this day, if I have things to do (like household chores, for instance (and sing/scream a bit in the process), more likely than not I’ll put this album on.
The CD I turn to when I’m feeling down is…
Anathema – Alternative 4
Instead of listening to mood-boosting records when feeling down, I sometimes find that a record as dark as how I’m feeling can help as a comforter. Alternative 4 is one such record, which goes deeper into the psyche as it progresses. By the time “Re-Connect” comes around with the line “Come on and twist that knife again/Well I’d like to see you fucking try”, it feels like swimming in a sludgy ocean, and you cannot leave it until the last tones of “Destiny” give you permission.
The CD with my favorite cover art is…
Amorphis – Skyforger
There seems to be a trend that if an album has a central object with something coming out of it, I will like it (c.f. Persuader’s When Eden Burns, The Black Dahlia Murder’s Deflorate). Something about Skyforger’s artwork caught my eye when I first saw it ten years ago, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I’ve gone back and forth over whether to get it tattooed, but there’s a chance that a variation will end up on my skin at some point.
The strangest CD I own is…
Lykathea Aflame – Elvenefris
I decided to go with “the strangest CD I own and listen to on a semi-regular basis”, and this is definitely an odd record. Progressive technical death metal that, instead of focusing on destruction and science fiction, chooses to discuss spirituality and philosophy in its (admittedly slightly obscure) lyrics. You may know drummer Tomáš Corn from his work in Cult of Fire, but the performance he puts in there is a walk in the park compared to the marathon on Elvenefris. The whole vibe of the record is a lot warmer and far less clinical than most tech-death, so definitely worth checking out if it’s passed you by.
The rarest CD I own is…
The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-li [box set, 300 copies].
A very comprehensive immersion into the Lovecraftian world of The Great Old Ones, including a full copy of At the Mountains of Madness, which is on my list to read. A treasured gift from a friend of mine, and the music (French avant-garde black metal) is pretty fun listening as well.
The last CD I bought was…
Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind of Horror: For completionist purposes. Such a damn good record, and any excuse to study the references and figure out the lyrics (I run a group dedicated to researching the lyrics, if I may put a link in for it?)
Dream Theater – a compendium of Images and Words through to Train of Thought: Not exactly a huge fan of the band, but there are a number of good tracks in that compendium, and it was only a tenner.
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Check out his Nathrakh Lyric Research group on Facebook.