Over the years, Swedish heavy-metal veteran Mats Leven has lent his distinctive pipes to Candlemass, Therion, Krux, Yngwie Malmsteen, At Vance and more. In 2019, it was time for him to step out on his own. The singer recently did just that, by dropping his first-ever solo album, which he offered up under the name Skyblood in November. The project’s self-titled debut full-length ranges from anthemic classic heavy metal to soaring melodic hard rock across its nine tracks. (You can pick up a copy here.) Ahead of the LP’s release, we caught up with Leven to find out what five albums changed his life and set him on his course.
Sparks – Kimono My House
When I was a kid I could never understand where they came from… Switzerland? Canada? Russel Mael sang with a sort of French accent falsetto and finally, 20 years later, I learned that they were from California… Ron Mael’s classical-meets-pop writing was so special. Dinky Diamond on drums was a favorite as well.
10CC – Bloody Tourists
In the early Eighties, I used to buy second hand vinyl at a store in Gothenburg called Satisfaction. I bought mostly hard rock, but also some other stuff like this one. The big hit on Bloody Tourists was “Dreadlock Holiday,” but I always skipped that one — loved the rest, though.
Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I got it on cassette from my brother, but soon I bought the vinyl for 34 SEK — the triple gatefold vinyl with all the pics and lyrics was something else. Anyone who’s seen the making-of DVD knows what a masterpiece this is.
Peter Gabriel – 3 (Melt)
What an album. Phil Collins and Jerry Marotta were told not to play any cymbals at all. “Intruder,” “No Self Control,” “Games Without Frontiers” — nothing was the same after this. I could have chosen 1 or 4, as well. They’re all favorites of mine.
David Bowie – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
I had a friend in school who didn’t listen to hard rock — he had this one. Together with Ziggy Stardust and Outside, this is the Bowie album I’ve listened to the most. Crazy vocals on “Teenage wildlife.” Actually, one of the girls on the cover of Kimono My House is speaking Japanese on “It’s No Game (No.1).” And Jeff Hendrickson, who was assistant engineer, was our engineer on the Treat album we recorded at Wisseloord in 1992. I was in awe.
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