A spotlight where musicians from bands can talk about their four favourite or influential albums of all time
Hails, heretics! I am David, founder and sole member of Ontario, Canada-based death metal band World Eaters. When I’m not playing death metal (or working my day job), I’m the low-end theorist in my pop/ rock outfit The Breaking English. I know it’s not particularly trve or kvlt for a death metal musician to also play in a band that jams out to Vanessa Carlton’s hit “A Thousand Miles”, but tough deal. That song rips, and you haven’t seen music truly send someone until you’ve played that song to a table of half a dozen wine-drunk moms. Poseurs, leave the hall.
Maybe, if I’m a good boy, Carcassbomb will eventually let me talk more about The Breaking English. But right now I’m not here to talk about covering early 2000’s one hit wonders, I’m here to talk about death metal.
World Eaters started as an explicitly Bolt Thrower worshipping band (with a name like World Eaters it’s shocking, I know) centered lyrically in the Warhammer 40,000 universe (another real stunner there, folks). I play guitar, bass, handle vocals, program drums, and occasionally lay down some keys or, in the case of an upcoming track, shred some mandolin. I handle all writing, recording, mixing and mastering duties for World Eaters, but despite all that I’ve wanted to make World Eaters as collaborative a project as possible.
Every release I’ve put out to date (one demo and two splits for those counting at home) has featured multiple musicians from the Southern Ontario music scene from all sorts of genres. World Eaters started as a pandemic project partly as a creative outlet for me and partly to help connect the musicians I’ve met over the years together in a time when music scenes are hurting and people are seeing each other less and less.
But, before the collaborations and before the tunes about big tanks and space skeletons, there was inspiration. Humour me for a bit as I walk you through four of my favourite albums, specifically ones that helped influence me as a musician and help shape the sound and aesthetic of World Eaters.
You can check out my music and follow my social media accounts below.
With the Bolt Thrower references, 40k lyrics, and penchant for writing six-minute-long mid-tempo grinders, I’m sure you can guess one of my picks. So, without further ado…
Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion (2015)
No, that’s not a joke. I love this album. It’s incredible. This is the album that helped make pop music “click” for me. Before hearing Emotion I only knew CRJ as the “Call Me Maybe” girl – a simple lowest common denominator bubblegum popstar. I only checked this album out because of a recommendation from a podcast host I like. Without Griffin McElroy, I likely wouldn’t be the music fan I am today.
It takes a matter of seconds. The opening sax line of one of the greatest pop anthems ever written, “Run Away With Me” (I will die on this hill, just try me) carves its way into your brain immediately and the rest of the tune (and album for that matter) does not let up. This album is a masterclass in songwriting, composition, and production. Every song is packed full of hooks, vocal and instrumental alike, worming into your ears, never to leave them again. You’ll hear this album once and two years later waiting to checkout at the grocery store, the bassline of “Boy Problems” will take over your thoughts and you’ll be inadvertently grooving along to that top shelf bop. Carly – 1, Real Metal FanTM – 0.
That’s a lot of colourful language just to say it’s catchy. But Emotion does more than get stuck in your head. It’s the first time I noticed a mainstream pop star’s album play with really engaging, evocative, and, well, emotional lyrics. The songs on this album range from funny, sad, uplifting, or just transportive, something I think made an impact on my lyric writing. Sure, I write tunes about dumb sci-fi wars, but if I can find the core feeling of a song I want to write I can try my best to apply the lessons learned from this album to help make those words as powerful as I can.
Okay, so, maybe you gave Emotion a shot and it’s not for you. Fine, I guess. Music aside, Ms. Jepsen has taught me one thing that I will carry with me in any and every musical project I’ll be a part of for the rest of my life:
Write, write, write. Write songs. Write hooks. Write riffs. Keep writing, then write more. Legend has it that Carly writes about 100-200 songs between albums and, while I’m positive they aren’t all totally flow-on-to-the-page bangers, she keeps her songwriting and musical chops sharp and ready so that she can capture and capitalize on the times she does get inspired. If that dedication to her craft isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is. In a world of compromise… she doesn’t.
Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal (2005)
Yeah, duh. I know. It’s obvious, but I’m still picking it. Some of you (those who didn’t immediately click away after the last album) might be wondering why I didn’t pick Realm of Chaos, y’know, with the name World Eaters and all, but let me tell you a little secret about me if you didn’t know already:
I like catchy music.
Catchy music is fun, it gets stuck in my head and makes me do a little subdued dance in my chair while I’m at work and makes me go wild at a live show (when those were a thing). Don’t get me wrong, Realm of Chaos is a monster of an album and I’ve paid more money than I care to admit to score an original 1989 pressing of it on vinyl, but Those Once Loyal is the album I keep coming back to from the English war dogs’ discography.
I could wax poetic about this album but every metal blogger and their mothers have frothed at the mouth raving about “The Killchain”, “Entrenched”, or the title track. Yeah. I know it. You know it. This album absolutely fucks. I won’t spend time just talking about how good it is.
Before I got into Bolt Thrower, I didn’t play death metal. I didn’t try. I had heard Chuck’s mile-a-minute solos on Human and Symbolic and lost my mind at Trey’s finger-snapping riffage on pretty much every Morbid Angel release and there appeared to be such a high barrier to entry for the genre. I was just a guy who took some guitar lessons and rocked out to his favourite Metallica and Deep Purple tunes (the ones I could play, at least). Enter Bolt Thrower. Heavy. Heavy. Heavy as any other death metal band, sometimes heavier by a mile, stretched out into an artillery pocked no man’s land, no less.
Bolt Thrower’s final album was the first of theirs that clicked with me, partly because of how damn catchy and well produced it is, but also because it proved to me that death metal wasn’t just for the inhuman shredders and virtuosos. All you needed was a mighty fucking riff and enough conviction to play it with authority, and people would listen.
Any amount of time listening to World Eaters will tell you how much I worship later-era Bolt Thrower. Hell, I even put my own spin on the classic Bolt Thrower intro/ outro riff on some of my tunes. You know the one. “Cenotaph”, “Embers”, “Powder Burns”, “The Killchain”. Obviously, I don’t want to ape them completely, and I want to display my influences with tact, but check out my tunes “Baneblade” and “The Commissar Shoots” for an example of this homage.
Let’s move on from Bolt Thrower, because I could fanboy about them all day. For those of you who might have heard my music before reading this, or who might’ve tossed on a track or two while you browsed the article, you likely picked up on something that features a fair amount that is a bit of a departure from the Bolt Thrower sound:
Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend (1979)
I spent some time thinking about what would occupy this spot. I knew I wanted to touch on harmonized twin guitar lines (guitar + harmony = guitarmony, for those unaware), and pretty immediately my brain jumped to Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind and Judas Priest’s Screaming For Vengeance but after spinning each again recently I came to two conclusions:
- These albums rule.
- There aren’t nearly as many guitarmonies in those albums as I thought there were.
Fortunately, Irish rough-and-tumblers Thin Lizzy provide the twin overdriven goods in spades here and, like my previous picks, the songcraft and catchiness are on display front and centre. Gorham and Moore are completely unleashed on this album, laying down iconic melody after iconic melody across the whole thing. Hell, if the opening leads of “Do Anything You Want To” don’t get you air-guitaring in your living room, then you’re dead inside. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
To my ears, nothing sounds cooler than twin guitarmonies, and while I might not be able to light a fretboard aflame like Gary Moore once did, Thin Lizzy — and by extension Maiden and Priest — have forever shaped the sound of my lead guitar work. When I get to write a guitar melody I always ask myself if I can harmonize it, and the answer is almost always yes. It’s a surefire way to add a triumphant sound to any rock or metal tune and helps make the song feel absolutely massive.
Morbid Angel – Gateways to Annihilation (2000)
I described Bolt Thrower’s Those Once Loyal as heavy, and while that’s true, it’s more a Mars-pattern Baneblade superheavy tank level of heavy. Gateways to Annihilation, on the other hand, is like a fucking neutron star.
The musical side of this album is monolithic. It’s an imposing juggernaut of riffs and grooves, blotting out the sun. While I’m not particularly interested in writing music that sounds like Morbid Angel, there’s an authority and commanding presence to the Tucker era albums that I rarely find present in any other death metal band. Similar to the Bolt Thrower style of “riff harder, not smarter” songwriting, Gateways has indirectly inspired me to try and capture that energy when writing my own tunes. If I’m writing lyrics about extinction level events or the aforementioned Mars-pattern Baneblade superheavy tank, the music should be able to back it up and sound like the imagery I’m trying to conjure.
Inadvertently, Gateways to Annihilation kind of became my reference for death metal vocals. I’ve been told before that my vocals are reminiscent of Karl Willetts, however, I’ve found myself subconsciously trying to emulate Tucker’s monstrous growls more often than not. Deep, guttural, and powerful, Steve Tucker works in unison with the music on this album and gives an absolutely amazing performance, sounding like a Baron of Hell presiding over the lesser demons, giving them orders to charge forth through the gate and decimate some unsuspecting world.
It’s a high bar to aim for, but why not try and put everything you’ve got into your art?
Outnumbered, Though Never Outclassed
In a genre known explicitly for it’s inaccessibility (and often rife with gatekeeping because of it), I want to inject it with some accessibility and bring death metal to the people. There ain’t nothing wrong with traditional/ popular song structures and catchy choruses if you’ve got enough high calibre riffs to back it up. Anybody can find inspiration anywhere, and all the musicians I respect the most seem to draw from a varied pool of influences to help shape their craft. I hope that one day other people might look at World Eaters the same way.
Is loving sugary pop music a sin in the hyper-grim world of death metal? Maybe. Will I lose the trve kvlt crowd? Probably. Do I care about appeasing them? No, not really. But, if you’re like me and want to see more catchiness, more openness, and more acceptance in the genre, then I invite you to join me on this journey. We’ll be the new gatekeepers. We’ll stand at death metal’s gate, and keep letting people in.