Considering his band's tried and true melodic death-metal sound, it might be surprising to some fans how diverse At the Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg's musical tastes are. The vocalist has been shaped by all kinds of music over his lifetime and career — from Metallica to Joy Division. Count among that list NWOBHM icons Judas Priest, and particularly their late-Seventies classic Stained Class. When we talked to Lindberg about the 10 albums that have shaped him as a person and an artist, he included that seminal LP among his picks. Below are his thoughts on its profound impact on him.
"This sums up what heavy metal is to me. In the early Eighties in Sweden, heavy metal was the biggest thing. Half the kids in school were metalheads. You could see Iron Maiden patches and Accept shirts everywhere you went. So Judas Priest wasn't the first metal band I heard, of course. That would be KISS, which I got into when I was seven. But Stained Class is my ultimate classic heavy-metal album, which is why there won't be any Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Accept or other classic metal records on my list. I got Stained Class on tape from my cousin when I was nine or 10. He'd send me tapes in the mail and they'd be, like a C90, with an album on each side. It was perfect because most albums were under 45 minutes long. I hated it when a band did a longer record and you had to flip the tape to hear the last song or two. Judas Priest is my favorite heavy-metal band and Stained Class is the logical bridge between the early Priest, which I'm actually more into, and the Priest with all the hits, like British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance.
"That's all really good, too, but in a different way. I liked Judas Priest when they were more progressive and had a really intricate, weird way of playing rock with a little blues touch that still had an edge. But Stained Class is the ultimate record because it mixes the broad styles of Sad Wings of Destiny with a really full, crunchy production. And it has those more intricate guitar lines, which they lost a little bit on the more popular records. It's a perfect mix of both. My side project the Lurking Fear actually stole the drum intro from 'Exciter' for our track 'Winged Death.' It's more of an homage than a theft. To me, Stained Class never gets old. It makes everyone crazy as soon as they hear it. Whereas some of the hits that came later, it's kind of like, Yeah I've heard it before 10,000 times. I know the song too well to even get excited by it."