It took a long time for headbangers and punks to put aside their differences (mostly haircuts) and embrace their commonalities (everything else). Although it was unheard of for these tribes to mix in the early days, the music of each individual scene undoubtedly influenced the other.
We talk a lot about the new wave of British heavy metal, but something just as hard and heavy was brewing in England at the same time that deserves acknowledgment for its role in shaping the music we love today.
These are the absolutely essential UK punk records that every metalhead should know:
Discharge – Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing
The undisputed granddaddies of extreme music, Discharge blazed the trail for everything from hardcore to thrash, grind and death metal. Pioneering a rhythm that will be borrowed by punk and metal bands until the end of time, they are a band so essential that an entire genre is named after them. Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing is the missing link between Motörhead and the burgeoning punk movement. It simply changed the face of music forever.
Killing Joke – Killing Joke
The revolutionary epicenter for crust punk and industrial metal. Killing Joke’s self-titled 1980 debut album charted a darker, heavier path than their post-punk contemporaries, eschewing the disco flirtations of the new wave for apocalyptic riffs, propulsive rhythms, and churning electronics. One of the first and one of the best to ever do it.
Subhumans – From The Cradle To The Grave
A flawless slab of anarcho-punk if there ever was one, Subhumans’ second album was a game-changer for what extreme music could be. A significant step above their classic debut, From The Cradle To The Grave spares none of the band’s urgency with the introduction of advanced melodies and song structures. The title track is a devastating 17-minute-long epic that would set the stage for bands like Neurosis arguably more than Black Sabbath ever did.
Rudimentary Peni – Death Church
An exercise in madness and brutality if there ever was one, Death Church is just about as devastating as punk gets. The twisted, relentless guitar work is firmly rooted in the hardcore of the time, but touches on the ethereal artistry of bands from the Factory Records scene like Joy Division and even the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. An essential work of emotional devastation and crippling beauty.
Amebix – No Sanctuary
A masterclass in tension and release, No Sanctuary applies epic drama to the punk aesthetic. Plodding rhythms and emotionally charged riffs break away into moments of ecstatic catharsis. A precursor to everything from black metal to post-rock, Amebix brought depth to simplicity and helped define the meaning of heavy.