HEALTH's John Famiglietti: My 10 Favorite Metal Albums | Revolver

HEALTH's John Famiglietti: My 10 Favorite Metal Albums

From "no shitter" industrial to "the Kraftwerk of extreme metal"
Health John live 2019 1600x900, Khadija Bhuiyan
HEALTH's John Famiglietti
photograph by Khadija Bhuiyan

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While far from straight-up metal, HEALTH's music blurs the boundaries between noise-rock, industrial, electronic rock and more in a sonically confrontational way that speaks eloquently to headbangers and heshers. Plus, the trio's run of collaborative projects, including their 2020 album, DISCO4 :: PART II, include team-ups with heavy hitters from Lamb of God to Nine Inch Nails.

Being able to find harmony with such a diverse array of metalized acts requires a genuine understanding of metal's many offshoots, and HEALTH's John Famiglietti knows his way around death metal, hardcore, thrash, power metal and more. Below, he ranks his 10 favorite metal records of all time and explains why he chose each one with vivid, humorous commentary. 

10. Godflesh - Streetcleaner

Industrial metal, as in it sounds like some sort of factory where you are working on metal, all day, in Birmingham. No benefits. No windows. No shitter.

9. Bolt Thrower - War Master

If you play Warhammer 40k or Fantasy at some point you will get into Bolt Thrower. As a kid I just assumed they were on Games Workshop's record label or something. Definitely my favorite death-metal band [and] album — it really works if you put it on while you're moving some minis around, too.

8. Converge - No Heroes

I find No Heroes to be a complete masterpiece of a maximum-dog experience with a genius use of sequencing and space to reset your dog meter so you don't get desensitized to the onslaught. 

7. Power Trip - Nightmare Logic

First time I heard this, I smugly wrote it off as "copyright-free Slayer." However, [then] I started to notice the magic. It's a perfect, tasteful presentation of classic thrash but with the added bonus of stellar modern production and the perfection of being nearly completely on grid, making it an awesome new beast. Something you didn't know you were dying for that ends up standing up next to the classics. Love this album.

6. Thin Lizzy - Thunder and Lightning

One of my all time favorite bands, so much so that I absolutely love their much-maligned final album where they pivoted to metal to keep up with them Joneses. Still great songs, still the classic [Phil] Lynott storytelling. Knowing what happened to him a few years later makes you wanna cry.

5. Slayer - Reign in Blood

The Kraftwerk of extreme metal. The goddamn Big Bang of a million genres. As a kid, Slayer scared me 'cause it actually sounds Satanic. I was in the pit at the farewell L.A. show — turned out to be not the final one as the tour was extended another two years — and an American History X–looking motherfucker punched me in the stomach to a song about the Holocaust and I thought to myself: Oh yeah, I forgot I'm not white!

4. Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power

Pantera's vision of modern metal combined with the historical sweet spot of godlike Nineties album production led to a complete paradigm shift. Nothing compares to the first side of this thing. Despite my love for this album, I never finish it. My personal Pantera playlist is the first side of each album in a row, from Cowboys to Reinventing the Steel (20th anniversary version).

3. Judas Priest - British Steel

A good three minutes into this thing I get an uncontrollable 1980s urge to crush 10 beers and rack some gator tails. It was hard for me to appreciate as a youth because of what came after but with the wisdom of adulthood it's become one of my favorite albums of all time. Party metal.

2. Metallica - Ride the Lightning

I'd like to apologize to your readers: Many of my choices might read like Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time," but sometimes the best is considered the best for a reason.

1. Black Sabbath - Master of Reality

My favorite metal album, and also the best Christian album ever made. You ever read these lyrics? Can't really make fun of Christian music when this album exists. Perfect record. This is the one when Sabbath started down-tuning to C#, as well, which has always made me confused about the Iommi legend of cutting off his fingertips, 'cause I doubt he was working at the factory after the success of Paranoid. Did he cut them in 1970 and use superglue for the first two album then down-tuned to ease the pain? I need a Rock Detective.