Everyone's got that one band that started them down the left-hand path of enlightenment, to their ultimate heavy metal nirvana. For some people, it was Kiss; for others, Black Sabbath. The times, they are a-changing, and nowadays it very well may be a band like Shadows Fall or Mastodon that lures the young folk in and teaches them the ways of the riff. For Aaron Deal of Salome, it was the classic Black Sabbath lineup, and it's easy to see how the Sab Four influenced the earth-shaking sludge and hellish heaviness of the band he drums for.

"Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin records were the gateway when I was a little kid. Then I found out about bands like Anthrax and Metallica. I remember making my piano teacher show me how to play 'Master of Puppets' when I was 9 or 10. Shortly after that, I got a bass cause I wanted to be like Cliff Burton and it was downhill from there."

Deal holds down the lowest of the low end in one of the heaviest bands out there (that isn't Coffins or Eyehategod, anyway), and as you might expect, he's a devoted amplifier worshiper – and devotee of the almighty riff when it comes to newer music.

"I suppose it's good for us that it seems like sludge and doom type stuff is getting more popular. I am also excited about the post-metal/rock stuff and more artsy-progressive stuff that doesn't sound like Dream Theater. I really miss the Hidden Hand, but am really looking forward to hearing Shrinebuilder. Krallice is really good, along with all of [Colin Marston's] other projects. Jucifer is totally awesome. There are tons of great bands and music, get out and support the ones you love."

Extreme music holds a different appeal for each of us – everyone's got their own opinion of what makes it wonderful or terrible or something in between. Deal shared his thoughts on the beauty of brutality:

"I love interesting music that sounds cool. I guess what's good about extreme metal is that there is the potential for so much variety. The bummer is it seems like a lot of it never realizes that potential. Playing really slow or really fast isn't enough, the riffs and songs have to be good, you know? Another thing for me is the shock value aspect, stuff that bands pulled off as shocking 20 years ago isn't shocking anymore, it just feels cheap and lazy – especially when the music isn't great. Actually, forget all that stuff. The thing I love most about extreme metal is corpse paint."

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