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Five Albums That Changed My Life: Joe Haley of Psycroptic

Nuclear Blast

Tasmanian technical death metal maestros Psycroptic just released ‘The Inherited Repression,’ their fifth studio album. Where many of their peers in the tech-metal community sacrifice good, old-fashioned songwriting smarts to frenzied arrangement patterns, Psycroptic never let the guitar and drum acrobatics get in the way of the actual songs.

“‘The Inherited Repression’ is quite different from anything we have done in terms of songwriting and structure, and we spent a lot longer writing and demoing the songs before we recorded it, which you can tell. It’s a very dynamic album – the fast elements faster, the slow elements slower, and a lot of light and dark binding it together,” says Psycroptic guitarist/producer Joe Haley.

With the new album in stores, Noisecreep asked Haley to take part in our ‘Five Albums That Changed My Life’ series.

‘Superunknown,’ Soundgarden (1994)

“Closely followed by their previous album, ‘Badmotorfinger,’ ‘Superunknown’ is my favorite album of all time. I remember buying this one on cassette and listening to it until the tape was raw. The use of unconventional timing and riffs can usually create a lot less groove in a lot of cases but this album really pulls it off. If anything it makes a lot of the songs more groovy and memorable. The overall sound of this album I absolutely love. It has so many production flaws and hiccups (vocal peaking, guitar and amp noise, etc.) which give the music so much character. The album would not be the same without it.

“A true testament to how pushing the limits with analogue recording can really give feeling to an album. And how much better a real, raw drum kit can sound. Also, before I heard this album I was never really that much into vocals – pretty much just the music side of things. But Chris Cornell’s vocals on this are so amazing and unique and add so much intensity to the music that I was immediately blown away. They continue to be my favorite band of all time and this album in particular I will never get enough of.”

‘…And Justice for All,’ Metallica (1988)

“In my opinion, this is Metallica at their best. The riffing on this album is by far some of my favorite thrash riffs of all time – tight, precise, razor riffing mixed with a perfect blend of melodic harmony. This album pretty much spawned my love of the down strokes in fast guitar riffs and subsequently changed my style to cater for this sound. This is also one of the few albums that I’ve heard that have such epic songs (5-9 minutes long) and still you never get bored of the songs. A great album and i still love listening to it every time.”

‘Accelerated Evolution,’ Devin Townsend Project (2003)

“This album blew me away as soon as I heard it. Not only in a musical sense, but also from a production angle. Even though the entire album is sweet and melodic, it also manages to assault the senses with a wall of brutality. This creates a huge sense of atmosphere. Most of Devin’s works are produced the same way, and I’m a fan of all of them, but this one stands out as the most memorable. There’s not a single song on it that I’d skip when listening to it, as the flow of the whole album is perfect. Every time I listen to this album I lose myself in the hugeness and atmosphere of the sound.”

‘Vulgar Display of Power’ and ‘Far Beyond Driven,’ Pantera (1992, 1994)

“These albums were pretty much what made me realize that a band could be just as heavy and dominating without the need for a second guitarist. Always believing beforehand that a metal band needed a “lead” and a “rhythm” guitar section to have a full and complete sound, these two albums totally opened my eyes to the possibilities of what could be achieved with a single guitar, combining both into one guitar part.

“This changed me as guitar player as when it came to writing, here was proof that it could be done well right there on these two albums. Other than that, they also demonstrated that simplicity and almost pop-like structuring is a key factor in making even heavy metal music catchy to the average listener. I think this was one of the big reasons of their success. Some of the riffs on these two albums are the simplest riffs yet anyone that is into metal can sing a riff or two off of them.”

’1984,’ Van Halen (1984)

“The reason this album changed my life is mainly because of the fact that it got me interested in guitar playing in the first place. The guitar playing of Van Halen was so revolutionary at the time and there isn’t a guitarist around that can’t say that they aren’t influenced by Eddie. Once again, great use of a single guitar – especially on this album compared to their others. There’s not a single second on this album where you miss a second guitar player. Obviously the lead guitar work is great, but I also think that Eddie’s rhythm work is something that is overlooked sometimes. His rhythm on this album is amazing and you find at times that you’re glad that there isn’t a second guitar player to cloud his phenomenal work.”

Psycroptic’s ‘The Inherited Repression’ is available now via Nuclear Blast.

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