Hi, Tom here from Valis Ablaze. While I listen to a wide variety of music including Orchestral, Jazz and Electronic, I decided to focus on 10 rock and metal tracks that put me on track to where I am now musically. Compiling this list was a real journey through some cool moments for me so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did putting it together.
You can hear the new album from Valis Ablaze here: https://valisablaze.lnk.to/Boundless
System Of A Down – Jet Pilot
Toxicity was one of the first rock/metal albums that I was introduced to. I had started to pay attention to music shortly before this with bands like Green Day and Blink 182 and Jet Pilot was one of the songs from Toxicity that stuck with me and felt like there was more depth and intensity than anything I had heard before. Another notable favourite from this album is Prison Song for it’s unpredictable craziness too.
Trivium – Dying In Your Arms
While this isn’t my favourite Trivium song, the album Ascendancy was a gateway into metal for me and Dying In Your Arms marks a big turning point in my life. I started playing electric guitar when I was 14 after about a year of nagging my parents to get me a guitar. They eventually gave in and Dying In Your Arms was the first song I learned on my Yamaha Pacifica. I always admired Trivium’s ability to combine strong riffs with awesome melody writing and The Crusade released later was also my first conscious exposure to 7 string guitars too.
Killswitch Engage – The Arms Of Sorrow
As you will probably be able to tell, early-ish metalcore was my jam for most of the 2000’s. I always loved a band who could combine strong songwriting with heaviness and riffs that challenged me. Killswitch Engage has catchy choruses galore and I always admired their ability to use interesting beat counts in their riffs while still keeping it palatable for listeners that just wanted a catchy metal tune. Adam D’s role in production was also a big inspirations to me too. The Arms Of Sorrow was another one I learned on guitar quite early on and I still enjoy coming back to End Of Heartache and As Daylight Dies.
Heart Of A Coward – We Stand As One (Dead Sea EP)
Hope and Hindrance is still my personal favourite album by these guys. Technical grooves, the production and Jamie’s vocals are big selling points for me. I chose the EP version though because Heart Of A Coward are a band that I played one of my first shows with. I was also pretty inexperienced in terms of going to shows to watch being under 18 too and immersing myself in that awesome atmosphere was a game changer for me.
Fellsilent – Drowned In My Enemy
Another self-produced band that inspired me to experiment with music production. Fellsilent were the band that introduced me to the concept of some of the wonky grooves I write today. It went further than Killswitch with the concept of the underlying simplicity behind huge challenging grooves. An early show for me was seeing them headline The Pitz in my hometown, Milton Keynes, around the time of their album launch and it was an unforgettable night.
First Signs Of Frost – The Saviour
For those who don’t know, this band is an early project of Dan Tompkins, now the vocalist for Tesseract. Their debut album Atlantic was a big influence to me because it encouraged me to be more ambitious and experimental with timings in riffs even in more melodic segments. These guys just do that flawlessly in my opinion and combine technicality with really melodic and emotive elements.
Protest The Hero – Bloodmeat
I was introduced to Protest The Hero with this song and Fortress is still my favourite album by them. I just love the unrelenting technicality of it, but above all, I feel that you can hear the fun that they are having playing their music and it certainly translates live too. It inspired me to be more experimental with tonality, less afraid of technicality, and to write music I’ll love being on stage playing.
Architects – Early Grave
More techy sounds! This time just heavy hard hitting grooves with interesting timings breaking into beautiful choruses. I saw an article at the time Hollow Crown had recently been released about how the band were so young but still making waves. It made me ask myself ‘if they can do that, why can’t I?’ And encouraged me to make the most of my love for music from very early on.
Soilwork – Exile
Metal with a twist. This was one of the first metal bands that I had been exposed to that utilised a heavy presence of synths. The album Sworn To A Great Divide was one of the earliest discoveries of this list and definitely made me open my mind to more experimental musical ideas.
Periphery – Racecar
This song inspired the progressive side in me. With my metalcore orientated roots in metal, I was very much a 3:00-4:30 song kind of guy. The more progressive bands in this list taught me to see where I can take an idea and how I can manipulate into something new rather than making every song I wrote simply a list of different riffs. Peripery’s debut album went side by side with them to expand my musical horizons. The first time I heard Racecar I couldn’t believe it was 15 minutes long, it was so engaging! Much like the album as a whole it was an awesome combination of technicality, heaviness and strong melody composition and has been a big inspiration for me all round.