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Stars Pick Their Top 5! This Week: Exmortus

So Cal metal combo Exmortus formed in 2002 by then-teen cousins Jadran "Conan" Gonzalez (vocals/guitars) and Mario Moreno (drums), and quickly built a reputation for pummeling local crowds with a deft blend of thrash/death metal and progressive rock, forging it all together into anthemic battle hymns. The 2008 In Hatred's Flame debut was a hard statement of intent, though last year's Ride Forth is arguably the best effort so far—incorporating Judas Priest-esque thunder metal and power choruses and the familiar war themes.

The band plays the Old Pueblo this week, so we spoke with Conan about the five albums that shaped has shaped his own and Exmortus' sounds to date.

Monday, May 29 at 6 p.m., The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. $10-$13. All ages.

1. Black Sabbath—Paranoid: This was my introduction to the heavy metal sound at the tender age of eight. I was instantly captivated by the power of the riff, profound lyrics, and groovy jamming.

2. Ozzy Osbourne— Blizzard of Ozz: While familiar with Ozzy in Sabbath, the difference with his solo project was pretty clear. While still emphasizing the talent of each member in the band, the sound and style was more rockin', and Randy Rhoads' classical riffs and licks inspired my guitar playing in a most profound way.

3. Yngwie Malmsteen—Rising Force: I appreciated the classical quirks that I heard with Randy, but I had never heard anything so fast, so clean and so damn impressive from a guitar player. Listening to Yngwie for the first time completely blew my mind, further inspired my practice on my instrument, and further encouraged me incorporating the classical style in my own heavy metal writing. 

4. Slayer—Live Undead: While very impressed with the virtuosity and style of guitarists like Randy and Yngwie, Slayer kindled within me a different aspect of metal with their wicked intensity. This live record not only introduced me to thrash metal but also inspired my passion to perform extreme music.

5. Judas Priest—Painkiller: I always loved the versatility of the Priest catalog, but there's something about this album that continues to inspire me in practice and composition. There's a balance of intensity and groove, complexity and simplicity. I like to think that this album summarized the metal of the '80s and paved the way for metal in the future at the same time with powerful riffs, awesome guitar solos, thundering drums and screaming vocals. This is truly a model for modern metal.

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