I already sang my praises for Receptor—the debut album from Californian prog grinders OWDWYR (pronounced: aʊ ˈdwɪr/“Ow Dweer”)—in today's Release Day Roundup, but I'll say it again: this is a phenomenal debut effort from a band who bring to some of the best progressive extreme metal bands in the business. On top of it's impressive quality, Receptor is also an extremely eclectic effort that already adapts arrangements from such diverse and unlikely acts as Arvo Pärt, Allan Holdsworth, Radiohead, Heitor Villa Lobos and Brian Lawlor. Take a closer look though and you'll discover an even broader array of influences, ranging from classical composers and synthesizer pioneers to bonafide extreme metal classics and underground gems. Get antiquated with Receptor below, if you haven't already, and read on through to discover just how extreme a melting pot they have concocted.
Inquiring what albums & bands have inspired me to make music the most is one of the hardest and easiest questions you could ask —easy because there are so many, and hard because I could black out and write 10,000 words on this topic, and no one has time to read all that. To help me curate properly, I’ve picked the top 7 albums that had the most profound effect on me, in order of when I experienced them in my life. You’ll also hear each of these influences somewhere on Receptor.
Wendy Carlos – Switched on Bach (1968)
When I was 4, my mother bought me a Fisher Price “My First Record Player,” and Switched on Bach was the first record she put on. She had listened to Bach throughout her pregnancy in the hopes the influence would stick, and it really did. I’ve been in love with Bach’s music my whole life, which you can hear at the beginning of our song “Ein” specifically. Wendy Carlos took Bach and transcribed some of his best works for Moog keyboards, which would set up my love of prog years later.
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
It surprises most people to know that Genesis are my favorite band. Partially, it’s because when most people think of Genesis, they think of pop hits like "Invisible Touch" and not being able to escape Phil Collins in the 80s and 90s. Little do they know that between 1971-1977, they were a prog powerhouse, especially when Peter Gabriel (the best singer on Earth IMO) was the frontman. His magnum opus, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, is a mindfuck. This began my fascination with concept albums, of which Receptor is one. It showed me that you could really take the listener on a journey vs. having a collection of disconnected songs.
Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
This is the album that made me fall in love with metal. From the moment I heard “A New Level” I thought to myself, “This is the heaviest fucking thing on the planet.” I was 10 when it came out, and it was labeled as explicit content, so I had to get my older cousin to buy it for me.
Human Remains – Using Sickness as a Hero (1996)
Human Remains introduced me to merciless blast beats. I also started smoking weed around the point I discovered them, so between the blast beats, the volume swells, and the one-tone, but relentless, vocal style, I was totally mesmerized. I never knew music could be like this.
Meshuggah – Destroy. Erase. Improve. (1995)
I saw Meshuggah open for Slayer on the Diabolus in Musica tour. I knew very little about them besides thinking their name was weird. And then they played “Future Breed Machine” and holy shit my life was forever changed. It was like I had been abducted by aliens minus the anal probe (unless...). Fredrik Thordendal’s guitar solos were especially transfixing. This would also introduce me to another huge influence, [jazz guitarist] Allan Holdsworth.
Claude Debussy - Preludes, Book 1 (1909)
There are two teachers I’ve had that were instrumental (get it?) in my musical development, Professor James Kelly (who taught me theory), and Scott McGill (who taught me fusion jazz). They showed me how classical music connected to jazz (and basically everything else). In particular, I learned the alchemy between scales, chords and arpeggiation. Debussy to me is one of those composers who bridged eras and genres. In particular, I fell in love with the whole tone scale because of Debussy. Our track “Stench of Indemnity” is a prime example of that, as it uses that scale exclusively.
Seputus – Phantom Indigo (2021):
This is a metal blog, and we are releasing a metal album, so I figured I should end on a band that I think released something brilliant that has eluded most listeners. Phantom Indigo is catchy as fuck for being so dissonant. There are a ton of metal bands who have really leaned into an Ulcerate sound, but many of them produce some pretty unlistenable records. Seputus wrote something laden with hooks and engaging all the way through. Really balanced dynamics and absolutely furious.
Gorguts – Pleiades Dust (2016), Yes – Yessongs (1973), Nile – Those Whom the Gods Detest (2009), Admiral Angry – Buster (2009), Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring (1913), Allan Holdsworth – Secrets (1989), Ion Dissonance – Solace (2005), The Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine (2004), Candiria – Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1997), John Coltrane – Giant Steps (1960), Between the Buried and Me – Between the Buried and Me (2002), Mew – And the Glass Handed Kites (2005).
Vital Remains – Dechristianize (2003)
Dechristianize was an extremely pivotal album for me to discover back around 2004, well before I had any interest in making music. I was in high school and had fallen down the rabbit hole of listening to a ton of black metal, almost exclusively, as I hadn’t really found much appeal in death metal. I was quickly becoming interested in learning how to play drums like some of my favorite blakc metal drummers such as Nick Barker, Trym, Horgh and plenty of others, so I was more heavily drawn to bands that featured killer drums in their songs. Dechristianize floored me from the moment the title track kicked off with its blistering double bass, riffs, and those iconic Glen Benton vocals. The combined appeal of every element on that album permanently changed my tastes in metal, going so far as to develop a little voice in my head that said, “I don’t know how, but I want to learn how to make my voice specifically sound like this.” I’d spend months with that album playing in my car, happily growling my throat raw before going to class or work. I firmly feel that it’s one of the best death metal albums ever made and has been an unmistakable influence on my stylistic development as a vocalist.
Tom Waits – Small Change (1976)
By the time my buddy John introduced me to Small Change in a bar parking lot, I had already been performing vocals for a few years in a very hot/cold, high/low tone. I was petrified of trying much outside of that comfort zone, as I thought I had to really dig in and be the best I could be at those two tones in order to be recognized as a metal vocalist. Additionally, though my lyrical “identity” was still growing into its own space, the lyrics I wrote were very much rooted in the realm of bad-thing-sharp-edge. Small Change resonated with me on a few levels: sonically, emotionally, lyrically, and compositionally. As I explored deeper into his catalog, I wanted to start breaking out of my self-imposed limitations to explore different vocal approaches, allow vulnerability in my lyrics, enunciate with confidence, and take artistic risks. I have a deep love and appreciation for the work Tom Waits has put out and Small Change will forever have its hook in my chest.
There are too many bands, songs and artists to condense in one sitting for a full sense of musical influence so I'll give you a couple that inspired me to go heavy, go loud, and go hard.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity (1999)
If you're familiar with The Dillinger Escape Plan and particularly this album, then you know it begins with a swift punch in the face followed by one wild musical endeavor. Calculating Infinity is definitely one of the first albums I listened to and thought "I didn't know you could do that". Inspiring and influential to say the least for fans and musicians alike. So much influence comes from this album including my love of complex rhythm. Plus the rawness of Dimitri Minakakis's vocals definitely puts me in Hulk-smash mode.
Candiria – 300 Percent Density (2001)
Candiria will forever be one of my favorite bands. I'll never forget the time my bud threw on Surrealistic Madness (1999) back in the day and being completely blown away. Never had I heard a band incorporate so many styles and wrap them up into a completely badass package. Metal, jazz, hip-hop...they did it all and quite well (without a bass player). By the time they released 300 Percent Density, I had already been a huge fan after seeing them live numerous times, but this is their first studio recording with bass player Mike MacIvor which was a game changer. This album really opened my eyes (and ears) to a whole new world of bass styles.