1. Green Day: Dookie
I first started playing guitar in the midst of the early 2000's pop-punk era and quickly became obsessed with the band Green Day - in particular their 3rd studio album "Dookie". It had everything an aspiring teenage rocker could ask for: attitude, power chords in abundance, catchy hooks, and plenty of pick scrapes to round it off. To this day, most of the songs on this album remain some of my go-to karaoke choices.
2. Thrice: The Artist in the Ambulance
During my punk phase, a band that caught my attention for their musical evolution and ambition was Thrice. "Artist In The Ambulance" is build upon all the foundations of the things I loved about punk rock, but made heavier, more powerful, and more melodic. There are also some technical riffs in there that kept me locked in my bedroom for days until I'd mastered then. A glowing example is the lead melody in the chorus of "Stare At The Sun", performed by Japanese-American guitarist Teppei Teranishi
3. Megadeth Rust In Peace
This was the first metal album that I became obsessed with. Intense, trashy riffs and bombastic in every sense of the word. If listening to Thrice was me standing on the precipice of heavy music, then this album sent me spiraling down into a hole I'd never return from. This album was also my first encounter with the legend that is Marty Friedman. Every song on this album features one of his solos which are both unfathomably technical and effortlessly melodic. The solo in "Tornado Of Souls" remains to this day my favourite guitar solo of all time.
4. Protest the Hero: Fortress
At this point, I was all in on the heavy / technical music, but when I heard Protest The Hero for the first time, it was like the perfect amalgamation of all the music I had loved up until this point. The first album I heard was "Kezia", but when they followed up a few years later with "Fortress", I was well and truly addicted. Most music I had heard before usually reserved the most technical and impressive licks for the solo section, but Protest The Hero was just relentless. Every verse, chorus, bridge, and whatever section in between was filled with groovy riffs, insane tapping lines, and worryingly fast chord patterns.
5. Between The Buried And Me: Colors
In some ways, less technical than Protest The Hero, Between The Buried And Me are just master craftsmen when it comes to songwriting and genre-bending concepts. Hearing "Colors" for the first time was my first real foray into the eccentric world of prog. The album is essentially an hour-long song and each track seamlessly flows into the next as you just become lost in this incredible audioscape of meaty metal riffs, ethereal 70s keyboard ambiance, jazzy chord progressions, and a borderline comical country style hoedown. This album really solidified progressive metal as my favourite musical genre to this day.
6. Guthrie Govan: Erotic Cakes
This album completely changed the way that I thought about the guitar as a melodic instrument. Most rock and metal I had listened to up to this point was very tight and perhaps also mechanical in the rhythm and production. Guthrie's playing was just on another level, with degrees of technicality I'd never heard before. Not only can he play fast - like, impossibly fast - but he just flat out doesn't make mistakes. This is further confirmed by the countless live performances of these songs that I've seen over the years. About a month after I first heard this album, I found out that Guthrie would actually be teaching "Technical Studies" at my university, which was without a doubt, the hardest class I've ever taken.