As I’ve written before, heavy metal music has been an essential tool for my recovery from OCD and the related addictions. Some would say this is in conflict with my Faith. After all, isn’t heavy metal the Devil’s music?
To that I say that all musical genres have their light and dark sides.
A lot of classical music will take you to a dark place and some of history’s more evil players loved Classical.
True, there is a lot of metal that would conflict with my religious beliefs. But most of the metal out there has had a positive impact on me. The aggression of the music hammered out a lot of anger I carried around as a kid — anger I might have otherwise acted on to hurt someone or myself. At worst, the stuff is harmless.
And so, here’s my own personal top-10 albums of all-time, and why…
1. Motley Crue: Shout At The Devil.
I started listening to this one right after my brother died. The aggression tapped into the anger and horror I was feeling. Tommy Lee is one of the best drummers of all time. Nikki Sixx couldn’t really play his bass back then, but his lyrics spoke to me.
Favorite song: Knock ‘Em Dead kid:
I got into this album in late 1986, right after my last real tussle with Chron’s Disease. I was feeling a hundred kinds of frustration. The disease and the dietary restrictions it led to further corrupted my relationship with food. The required medication was sinking me into madness. And the angst of this album spoke to me, as if to let me know I wasn’t alone.
Favorite song: Welcome Home (Sanitarium):
This is my favorite Van Halen album probably because it’s the band’s deepest, darkest, most soul-searching album. It wasn’t one of their most popular releases, probably for that very reason.
Favorite song: Mean Street:
4. Def Leppard: High and Dry.
This was back when the drummer had two arms and the band had not yet been seduced by candy-coated pop. I continued listening to them after this album, in part because I respected Rick Allen for overcoming his loss of arm to keep drumming. But High and Dry is their most raw and, to me, most inspiring.
Favorite song: Let it Go:
5. Henry Rollins: The End of Silence.
Henry’s lyrics always inspire me. He speaks directly to the misfits of the world, the folks with the bad skin and shy disposition. His songs are about overcoming those things and grabbing life by the throat.
Favorite song: Low Self Opinion:
6. NIN: The Downward Spiral.
I think I’m drawn to this album because it was recorded in the house where Sharon Tate and four others were murdered by members of the Manson Family. The album came out around the time I became aware of my friend Sean Marley’s mental illness, and I was feeling rather depressed myself at that point. it was a time of transition from college to career, and that made life a bit frightening. This was an ideal soundtrack.
Favorite song: The Becoming:
7. Marilyn Manson: Portrait of an American Family.
This album was produced by Trent Reznor of NIN and also recorded in the Sharon Tate house. It came out the same year as the Downward Spiral. It’s sort of the second of a 2-part soundtrack to my life at the time.
Favorite song: Snake Eyes and Sissies:
8. Guns ‘N Roses: Appetite for Destruction.
These guys hit me in the same way Motley Crue did with its Shout at the Devil album. The lyrics and their image were dangerous. And in the 1980s, the music was as close to danger as I was willing to go.
Favorite song: Night Train:
9. Thin Lizzy: Live and Dangerous.
The band pioneered the double lead guitar sound and ringleader Phil Lynott was a genuine storyteller. I love his tales of bar fights, hanging out with the boys and getting into trouble and living on the road.
Favorite song: Southbound:
10. The Ramones: Pretty much anything. These guys were always great for helping me get my ya-yas out. And it didn’t matter which album I had on. After all, every song is built around no more then four chords. You just can’t lose!