Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 53: Dirk Verbeuren

Megadeth drummer Dirk Verbeuren is currently touring North America with Dave Mustaine and the rest of the band on the “Metal Tour of the Year”. During his career, the Belgian-born and US-based multi-instrumentalist has played with acts such as Soilwork, Bent Sea, Cadaver, Tronos, Scarve, Naglfar, Aborted, Devin Townsend and many more. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson caught up with Dirk during the tour to find out what six (!) albums helped shape him as an artist.

“My list ended up being six albums because I couldn’t choose. Haha! Every adventurous metal fan growing up in the ’80s was naturally affected by the burgeoning thrash and death metal scenes. Instead of going for the infamous milestones that have influenced most of us, I’ve chosen to talk about some lesser-known albums which had a massive impact one me both as a listener and a musician, in hopes that you will give them a spin.”

Godflesh “Selfless” (1994)

“I first heard Godflesh on Earache’s legendary ‘Grindcrusher’ compilation. The duo’s uniquely dark and crushing soundscapes instantly pulled me in, and subsequently, ‘Streetcleaner’ was on heavy rotation on my bedroom stereo. While I’ve grown to love each and every Godflesh record, it’s their fourth album that hit me the hardest. Guitarist/vocalist Justin Broadrick has called ‘Selfless’ the band’s ‘rock’ album, and while it’s a little more melodic, true to form it’s also heavier than a ton of bricks. ‘Selfless’ paints a world where angst, melancholy and anger form a relentlessly entrancing union. No other album has moved me quite like this one. Every song is a standout track and 24-minute closer ‘Go Spread Your Wings’ is the perfect send off for a perfect record.”

Mr. Bungle “Disco Volante” (1995)

Most people mention Mr. Bungle’s debut album as their favourite. For me, ‘Disco Volante’ is their unbeatable masterpiece. It’s an obtuse, schizophrenic and noisy monster performed by a band of virtuosos. Not exactly the kind of record you grasp upon two or three listens, especially when it starts off with the freeform, anti-melodic ‘Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead’. But the best albums are often those that challenge the listener, requiring patience and persistence. From the epic, multipart ‘The Bends’ to the cinematic ‘Desert Search for Techno Allah’ and the weirdly entrancing ‘Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz’, the ‘Disco Volante’ wild rollercoaster ride is a musical UFO. Only a vocalist as masterful as Mike Patton could handle such insanity, and he does so brilliantly of course. My absolute favourite song on the record is ‘Carry Stress in the Jaw’, which marries jazz, death/thrash metal and noise in a way that has never been done before or since. Mandatory.”

Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects “Sol Niger Within” (1997)

“Speaking of alien, you are truly missing out if you have yet to be swallowed up by the black hole that is ‘Sol Niger Within’. A whirlwind of mind-bending rhythms, pitch-black atmospheres and some of the most poignant guitar – and sax! – leads known to humanity, this 45-minute interstellar plunge will tear your insides out while screaming straight into your brain – and you’ll love every second of it. If anyone still needs proof that Fredrik Thordendal is a mad genius, look no further. As for what monster drummer Morgan Ågren accomplishes here, I simply have no words. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of hearing this album. Turn off your thinking brain and explore the universe of ‘Sol Niger Within’.”

Thorns “Thorns” (2001)

“The influence of Snorre Ruch’s early demos on the Norwegian black metal scene is well documented. It took quite a few years for Snorre’s project Thorns to finally release a full-length album – and was it ever worth the wait! Thorns exists on a plain all of its own. Dissonant chords and relentless drumming courtesy of Hellhammer blend with industrial soundscapes evoking images of humanity escaping a dying Earth. Entrancing vocal performances by Satyr Wongraven (Satyricon) and Aldrahn (Dødheimsgard) complete this milestone. In my humble opinion, ‘Thorns’ is one of the most important black metal albums ever made.”

Rotten Sound “Murderworks” (2002)

“’Murderworks’ is 29 minutes of essential grindcore right up there with Scum, Horrified, World Downfall, Symphonies of Sickness and Inhale/Exhale. Rotten Sound have always been insanely intense, but they really fire on all cylinders here. Kai Hahto’s creative cymbal work and inventive blasting inspire me to this day. Just listen to 45-second blast fest ‘Void’ for proof. Very few records can beat the perfect sequencing of ‘Murderworks’; even when you don’t think it can, this album still gets more brutal. Anyone into extreme music needs to own this.”

Dodecahedron “Dodecahedron” (2012)

“In recent years, few bands have enthused me as much as Dutch quintet Dodecahedron. This band pushed black metal into uncharted territory with uniquely dissonant harmonies setting the foundation for complex yet flowing song structures. Their music is of a very high technical level. Drummer Jasper Barendregt blends blastbeats and polyrhythms with jazz influences in a tasteful and seemingly effortless matter, while the guitar work of Michel Nienhuis and Joris Bonis appears to break new ground at every turn. This is the kind of record that overwhelms you at first; but persistence pays off because its true genius unfolds as you start to wrap your brain around it. Dodecahedron unfortunately ceased to exist after the tragic death of vocalist Michiel Eikenaar in April 2019. Luckily the band gave us two masterful albums – this one and 2017’s ‘Kwintessens’ – which will forever be among my favourites. And their new endeavour Autarkh is certainly worth delving into as well.”