Death Angel's Rob Cavestany: 5 Albums That Made Me | Revolver

Death Angel's Rob Cavestany: 5 Albums That Made Me

From Stevie Wonder to Ozzy Osbourne, thrash guitarist tells stories behind records that most influenced him
death-angel-rob-cavestany-jimmyhubbard.jpg, Jimmy Hubbard
photograph by Jimmy Hubbard
Guitarist and songwriter Rob Cavestany is nothing if not persistent — and seemingly endlessly full of inspired riff-making abilities. From the 1987 formation of his stalwart Bay Area thrash outfit Death Angel through their stunning 2004 reformation following a 13-year break that came on the tail of a devastating bus crash, he's seen the band through their various iconic speed-driven albums and provided some of the genre's best whiplash bangers.
Now that their return to the fold has out-lived their initial run as a band, Death Angel stand tall among the greats and deserve a rightful spot in the thrash canon alongside acts like Testament, Exodus or any of the Big 4. Ahead of their ninth LP, Humanicide, we asked the influential hesher to talk about which records he reaches for when he needs a shot of inspiration. Below, Cavestany, lists the five influential albums that changed his life, shaping him as both a fan and a musician.

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

This is the first album I can remember obsessing over. I was 5 years old when this album was released, my dad got it and played it all the time. The album art, double gatefold / double LP hypnotized me (each song has its own art style and font for the lyrics). Not to mention the insanely incredible songs, musicianship, arrangements, hooks and of course Elton's voice and piano playing! I must credit this album for sparking my lifelong love for music — listening to, composing and playing it. To this day it holds a special place in my heart and soul. A true masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Another masterpiece from my dad's record collection in the 70s. Also a double gatefold / double LP created with equal musical genius as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but in a completely different style. Similar bullet points — amazing songs, musicianship, vocal prowess and hooks for days but with crazier and longer uncompromising arrangements and, of course, more of an R&B and soul flavor. I thank my dad and how he let me explore his record collection — as long as I didn't scratch his vinyl or mess up the needle on his turntable — for my varied taste in musical styles.

Kiss - Kiss Alive II (1977)

This is the record that made me want to actually perform live. Listening to the roar of the crowd and staring at the incredible live photos in the double-gatefold LP had me dreaming of being a rock star! The songs had so much more energy compared to the studio versions ... I could feel the vibes. This was one of the first albums I purchased with the lunch money I'd saved to begin my own record collection. Now I wanted to rock! Got the blood pumping in my 9-year-old self and by age 10 my parents took me to see Kiss live in San Francisco! That is how Death Angel began ...

Ozzy Osbourne - Diary of a Madman (1981)

This is the record that got me to actually learn how to play guitar. I already worshipped Blizzard of Ozz, but this album took it to the next level for me. Randy Rhoads became my true guitar hero and stayed that way to this day. Many others have influenced me before and after Randy, but he is my main man when it comes to the ultimate "guitar hero." He had the chops, songwriting ability, looks, guitars and that styleThat "it" factor. I wanted some of that "it" factor! He is the reason I play Jackson Guitars and have been since the 80s. He is the reason I can even play guitar at all. I'm not saying I think he's the best guitar player ever, but he was always my favorite. Not only Randy, but the songs on this album, Ozzy's voice, the lyrics ...  dark and moody ... Only two albums with Ozzy at such a young age. R.I.P. Randy Rhoads, he lives on through his music and influence on so many others.

Metallica - Ride the Lightning (1984)

Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets? This question is almost as tough as Priest or Maiden! In the end, Ride the Lightning takes it for me. This album had me at the open riff of "Fight Fire With Fire." At that point, that was the heaviest and tightest right-hand guitar tone to slice your head off riff I'd heard and it struck a nerve. The first time we saw Metallica live at the Keystone in Berkeley, California we were mind blown. Until then I had never seen such stage diving and a brutal pit. I was sold! Next rehearsal we changed our sound from "metal" to "thrash metal." To top it off, we got to open for Metallica on the Ride the Lightning Tour for two nights in San Francisco at the Kabuki Theater. At that time those were easily our biggest shows. Metallica mentored us like big brothers with Kirk [Hammett] producing our "Kill As One" demo that got us signed. Cliff [Burton] and James [Hetfield] used to wear Death Angel shirts that I screen printed myself in high school as they would head bang in the front row of our shows. Bay Area thrash scene at its finest ... Good times!