TOOL's JUSTIN CHANCELLOR picks 11 great non-metal albums for metalheads | Revolver

TOOL's JUSTIN CHANCELLOR picks 11 great non-metal albums for metalheads

From atom-smashing sound sculptures to a "kaleidoscope of noise"
Justin Chancellor tooll live 2023 1600x900, Steve Thrasher
photograph by Steve Thrasher

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Justin Chancellor is best known for the hypnotic bass rumbles he brings to TOOL, but if you think all he listens to in his spare time is mind-bending alt-metal, then you're sorely mistaken.

The London-bred musician has an incredibly eclectic musical palate, with a distinct fondness for electronic, noise, shoegaze, punk and many other non-metal styles.

Anyone who's heard his experimental side project MTVoid — who're releasing their first album in a decade later this year — is keenly aware of Chancellor's far-ranging sonic abilities, and his record collection goes even deeper.

With that in mind, we asked the TOOL bassist to select 11 of his favorite non-metal albums that he thinks metalheads would enjoy. From atom-smashing electronic sculpting to a "kaleidoscope of noise," see all of his incredible picks below.

"Hopefully these lead you down a different path," Chancellor says of his selections. "Maybe one or two of these albums will tickle your fancy and open up a whole new world of music for you."

Aphex Twin - Collapse

Richard James' grasp of tone and sound almost makes this a sonic sculpture, and the way that the sounds interact give it this incredible dynamic and sense of movement.

His grasp of the low end is just outrageous. Giving it this weight and depth that, to me, makes it really heavy.

I like all of his stuff but this was a more recent album where he pretty much stripped it back down to what he's really good at: smashing atoms together.

The Bronx - The Bronx

I don't know a lot about these guys, but this album just starts and never stops. It's extremely heavy — I guess it would be considered punk. It's more traditional guitars-bass-drums-vocals, but it just is tight and precise and really well-recorded.

It almost has that feel of a metal album. It has the tight grooves, the syncopated riffs, but it's a little more manic. The vocals get a little angrier and are a little more in the metal realm.

Death Grips - Bottomless Pit

I've been lucky enough to do a chat with these guys and it's a super interesting combination of musicians. Zach Hill, the drummer, has one of the most insane right foots in the business, which more than compensates for a double-kick drum or double-kick pedal that you'll often find in metal bands and metal songs.

But then they process a lot of his drums to make them electronic sounds, so the end result is basically an electronic-sounding album that's come from a very organic origin.

It's pretty manic, but there's great payoffs on the tracks. "Warping" and "80808" have epic, slaying 808 bass drum sounds.

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

I've never seen them live, but I absolutely love this album. It's kind of a kaleidoscope of noise that sounds like there's some organic guitar stuff starting to creep in.

But it really has this way of washing over you and transporting you from one place to another. One sound slowly taking over the other, and literally, by the end of each track, you can't quite understand how you found yourself where you are.

The God Machine - Scenes From the Second Storey

Unfortunately, this album isn't available on any digital platforms, so if you have trouble finding the CD or a copy of the vinyl, there is a second album called One Last Laugh in a Place of Dying, and you can get that on [streaming services].

I saw this band back in 1992 and the bass player Jimmy [Fernandez] was absolutely phenomenal, like he was straight out of the Seventies. Thick tone, just the grooves pounding. This album, in particular, is super heavy — I think all the metalheads will love this one.

Robin [Proper-Sheppard], the singer, also has a pretty wicked metal voice. I think he could drop into any metal band with no problem. Unfortunately, Jimmy passed away shortly after I saw them play, and it sort of ushered in the end of the band.

So it's a very special band to me, inspiration-wise. And the small catalog of music that they left is just perfect.

Melvins - Stoner Witch

They have so many albums, it's hard to keep track of them, but to me this is one of the most well-rounded rock albums that they did. It was also recorded at A&M studios a long time ago, which is the room where [TOOL] recorded Fear Inoculum.

We've had the Melvins on tour with us a few times and I find Buzz to be almost operatic in his delivery, and this album definitely goes through some kind of theatrical dynamics. Really slowing down the pace at points and the next thing you know you're kicking it with a heavy rock song.

He's got a real rough, aggressive delivery in his voice, too, and I think the tightness of the band — the drumming of Dale Crover, who's a super heavy, hard-hitting drummer — just means that there's a real possibility you'll appreciate this if you're mostly into metal.

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

This is an album created by [My Bloody Valentine bandleader] Kevin Shields that came out in 1991 and it basically broke through the boundaries of rock music through his approach to the guitar and through the recording process.

He used a lot of tremolo or whammy bar on his guitar, and when they were recording the album they got a tape-to-tape machine and put the album on one, recorded it to the other, and back and forth back and forth. Until it sounded completely degraded, almost distorted.

Then they would put that back on the big reels and record fresh guitar tracks or keyboard tracks or vocals over that, so the first version of the album became the texture in the background. Which gives quite a crazy effect.

When you listen to this, it's like looking at a piece of modern art. At first you might not be able to hear the layers or make out the melodies, but as you focus in on it I think that starts to come alive. The more you listen to it, the more you can see into it.

It's a very exciting album that was incredibly inspiring to me and has a heaviness of its own that I think metalheads will appreciate.

Rollins Band - The End of Silence

Massive album, probably the closest to anything metal on this list. I was fortunate enough to see TOOL support Henry Rollins at CBGB's and the particular lineup that recorded this album included Andrew Weiss on bass, and I remember seeing him taking his bass and smashing it on his head for the final beat of the song, which blew my mind.

The album itself is full of emotion and anger, with super heavy riffs. It's got some kind of jazz elements but it's more on the heavy side. Henry Rollins was in top form. I think it's one of the heaviest pieces of music put together in the last 50 years.

Squarepusher - Go Plastic

You're gonna have to have a bit of patience getting into this one. It's literally organized chaos for the first few minutes.

But the interesting thing about this is that Tom Jenkinson, who is Squarepusher, is an incredible bass player, and I think you start to realize that his knowledge playing the bass guitar marries into his use of electronic sounds on the album.

There's some kind of attempt there to create an orchestra of sound out of beats and sequenced sounds. I don't believe there's a lot of bass played on this album, but I did manage to see him once at the Fuji festival in Japan, and he was actually playing his bass guitar along with the drum beats and sequenced sounds for a really dynamic and interesting show.

Obviously, his grasp of the bass gives him a great understanding of low end and I think you metalheads will appreciate some of the aggression and attack on this album.

Swervedriver - Raise

These guys were doing really well in London when I was in my band Peach, previous to being in TOOL. Also, my friend Steve [George] became the bass player of Swervedriver right at the same time I was asked to join TOOL, so there was a bit of serendipity there.

The standout songs on this album for me are "Son of a Mustang Ford," which you know is good by the title, and "Rave Down," an incredible festival song. Saw it a few times, it just builds and builds and builds. It's as heavy as anything you'll hear in the metal world, in my opinion.

Obviously it's got slightly more blissed-out vocals, but the music more than gets behind that and elevates the whole thing to this weighty performance.

Tomahawk - Mit Gas

This is a side project of Mike Patton's, of which he has several. I find his voice to be incredibly versatile. He's got that real guttural, aggressive, screeching attack, but he can also sing very beautifully and very chorally, as if he's part of the Welsh boy's choir.

It's an interesting album. It's also recorded by Joe Barresi, who did a bunch of [TOOL's] albums, and Tomahawk are kind of a supergroup. John Stanier played drums for Helmet, Trevor Dunn [is] in Mr. Bungle, and Duane Denison from the Jesus Lizard is on guitar.

So it's a real smorgasbord of talent, and it came out as an incredibly powerful rock album that I think metalheads could appreciate.