Cosmo Lee put up a post on "12 albums that changed my life" over at Invisible Oranges. Evidently it is an idea making the rounds on Farcebook.
His list was fascinating, as were the numerous responses people posted in the comments. I couldn't help myself from taking up the thread here:
Guns N' Roses - Welcome To the Jungle/Metallica - ...And Justice For All
I grew up as a kid in Queens, NY on a steady diet of hip-hop and whatever radio-friendly hair metal was to be had. It was summer camp in 1989. One of my bunk mates brought a boom-box and played these two albums constantly. I knew, of course, the singles from Appetite from radio and TV. I didn't appreciate the filthy, beautiful smut of the album until that sweaty summer. I'd also never heard anything so dark and evil as Justice up until then. The repeated listenings sunk the first claws of metal into me.
Nirvana - Nevermind
It was the first CD I ever bought. I'd only acquired copied cassettes up until then. Nevermind introduced me to the concept of buying my own music and my parents to the fact that I'd be blasting music at ridiculous volumes from there on out.
Metallica - Metallica
It was the first Metal album I bought. It was the gateway drug, but also the first step in my life as a Hetfield apologist. The Black Album led me to pick up a guitar and start taking lessons. My parents paid for about 7 years of jazz guitar lessons, and all I have to show for it is the perfect knowledge of how to play Metallica songs.
Carcass - Heartwork/Entombed - Wolverine Blues
By 1993, I was reading metal magazines and starting to branch out. With promotion from a major record label, advertisements for Heartwork and Wolverine Blues were everywhere. I bought both albums on the same day, without having any idea what they would sound like. I vividly remember a car ride to a family gathering, listening to Heartwork on some old headphones, and being absolutely blown away. It took me a while to get used to the vocals, but these two albums sent me quickly down the dark path to death metal. I bought multiple copies of the same metal magazine (I can't remember which one) so I could plaster a Carcass "The Meat in the Hooks" ad on all my notebooks.
Suffocation - Pierced From Within
This album was the absolute apex of brutality when it came out. Discovering Suffocation did a couple of things for me. In 1995, Pierced From Within signaled a shift in my metal aesthetics towards "brutal death metal." After a couple of years of listening to metal from Brazil, Sweden, Britain, and all corners of the earth, I finally realized that there was a metal scene in New York City. I set off for college in the Bronx, determined to soak up as many shows as possible.
Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
For the next couple of years I plied the depths of the New York death metal scene, and attended more soulless shows than any human being should endure. The music was getting worse and worse. Suffocation had broken up, Cryptopsy had started to suck, and Chuck Shuldiner had thrown in the towel. I myself was tired of the whole thing. I started to reminisce about mythical summers with my cousin Art where we played Middle Earth Role Playing and listened to Iron Maiden. Maiden didn't do much for me at the time, but I began to think about the idea that there could be melody in heavy metal. In a fit one day, I walked into a music store and bought the Maiden album I remembered most. Seventh Son changed everything for me. I sucked up all the Maiden I could get, along with Bruce Dickinson's solo albums, and got deeply into Iced Earth. I ended up meeting my good friend Jeremiah on line outside an Iced Earth show at The Bank. It was also my gateway back into melodic death metal. I soon got into Opeth and In Flames.
Social Distortion - Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll
My wife and I agree on many things, but music was not one of them. She'd been a long time fan of Social Distortion, but neither of us had heard their newest album. On some car ride to a family gathering, my brother Frank busts out SL&R&R, and we listen to it together. It started my passion for all things having to do with Mike Ness, and helped my wife and I find some common ground on music. SL&R&R got me into classic punk, in reverse.
Immortal - Sons of Northern Darkness
I spent several years in complete denial of Black Metal. My metal friend Jeremiah tried repeatedly to get me into it, but I was immovable. Repeated attempts to get into Emperor were met with failure. We even saw Mayhem at the infamous 2000 Milwaukee Metal Fest, and the performance did nothing to help me along. I had to come to it myself. After some drooling reviews, and listening to some samples, I picked up Sons of Northern Darkness. I loved it. I got into Black Metal, again, in reverse.
The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.
Classic Rock was an integral part of my childhood. My dad listened to music all the time. Naturally, I rebelled against all things Rock & Roll on principle. My wife has a passion for the Stones. I started getting into the music, but it wasn't until we bought Exile on Main St. that I was able to get over myself and really enjoy this stuff. Exile allowed me to start enjoying a lot of the music I'd ignored for years, such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, early Genesis, and all of the worlds of my wife's excellent music collection. I started to check out early blues and other roots of rock stuff. None of this tarnished my eternal love for the metal, but it expanded my horizons exponentially.