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Five Albums That Changed My Life: Chimaira’s Mark Hunter

Todd Bell

Chimaira recently released ‘The Age of Hell,’ their sixth album of pile-driving heavy metal. Although the Cleveland group went through some membership changes during the last couple of years, the new record finds them in fighting shape with some of the most inspired songwriting of their career. Chimaira will be going out on tour with Revocation, Impending Doom and Rise to Remain, starting next month. Vocalist Mark Hunter took time out from tour rehearsals to send us his list of the five albums that changed his life.

‘Physical Graffiti’
Led Zeppelin (1975)

I can’t recall how or whenI discovered the almighty Zep, but I was a fan from the get go. This album is epic, and the song ‘Kashmir’ made me want to pick up a pair of drum sticks, sit in the pocket and groove like John Bonham. The drum sound on this record is huge and the rumor around town is that they only used a couple of room mics. I would come home from school and play drums along to this album (and all of the other Zeppelin albums) until my fingers blistered. Without Led Zeppelin, I would have never picked up an instrument.

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‘Reign in Blood’
Slayer (1986)

I was 8-years-old and on the way to hang out with my friend when I heard this hellish sound coming from his older brother’s ghetto blaster. I grew up on Michael Jackson and Prince, so when I heard the bridge riff from ‘Angel of Death,’ my head spun similar to Regan in the movie ‘The Exorcist.’ This was evil, it was scary, it was amazing – a metalhead was born.

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‘The Downward Spiral’
Nine Inch Nails (1994)

I went to a venue in Cleveland called The Phantasy to hear a sneak peak of this album before its release date. I sat right next to the speaker and had my head blown off by the darkest, most violent, beautiful piece of music I had ever heard. I recommend listening to it in a dark room, loud, with only a few candles. The song ‘Eraser’ starts off with Trent Reznor blowing through a straw. You could make music without instruments? This record taught me to be a much more creative artist.

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‘Dirt’
Alice in Chains (1992)

The word “pain” comes to mind when I hear this album. The lyrics, the vocals, the melodies, the riffs – everything on ‘Dirt’ feels like pain. This album came to me in my awkward teen angst phase and made me feel less alienated. There were many records that came out from Seattle that hit me, but none as strong as ‘Dirt.’ I love how heavy the production is on this classic – the guitar riffs and drums are massive.

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‘Burn My Eyes’
Machine Head (1994)

I went to see Slayer at my local arena and this band called Machine Head were on the bill as the opening act. Even though I had never heard of them, within five minutes of their start, I turned to my friend and said, “I want to be in a band like that one day.” They had everything I was looking for in a metal band. They had the heaviness of Pantera, the epic flair of Metallica, the thrash of Slayer and the bounce of Sepultura. They were like the perfect hybrid of all of the great metal sounds while being 100% original. Fast forward a few years and my band, Chimaira, had the honor of playing the 10th anniversary show for this album. It was an incredible night that I’ll never forget.

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