Swedish heavy-metal veteran Mats Leven has a stacked resume. Over the years, he’s lent his distinctive and powerful voice to bands including Candlemass, Therion, Krux, Yngwie Malmsteen and At Vance. Now, he’s gearing up for an exciting new chapter in his long-running career: his first-ever solo album, which he’ll be releasing under the name Skyblood. The project’s self-titled debut LP ranges from anthemic classic heavy metal to soaring melodic hard rock across its nine tracks, and is due to drop on November 22nd via Napalm Records. (You can pre-order it here.) Ahead of that big dates, we caught up with Leven to find out what five albums changed his life and set him on his course.
I actually heard this one before I heard Machine Head — the live versions were so much better. I still can’t listen to Machine Head. Ian Gillan, what a unique voice.
Even when I was a kid, I loved that they used some keys — [courtesy of Yes keyboardist] Rick Wakeman. And there’s such a special guitar sound on this album. We had a band playing complete Sabbath albums in 2000 — this one was hard to nail.
Bob Ezrin = God.
I liked Paul Di’Anno. I saw them open up for KISS in Gothenburg in 1980. But when Bruce left Samson and joined, Iron Maiden became a new band. I used to borrow my brother’s acoustic and learned the riffs. Loved this lineup.
You’re not allowed to talk or laugh during “Stargazer” — it’s just forbidden. I still get annoyed when bands try to play “Stargazer.” Don’t fucking touch it. I got to rehearse it with Cozy and Yngwie for two minutes in 1997. Then we did “Gates of Babylon” instead.