25 Albums That Shaped My Life
State of Euphoria
I was very close to selecting Def Leppard's Hysteria in this slot, seeing as how we're going in chronological order. I decided against it. Aside from the embarrassment of sending out a Def Leppard song to everyone, I simply felt in the end that my brief Def Leppard fixation at age 10 was only a part of my musical progression... not a landmark.
From Springsteen, I made my way through other '80s pop-rock (Huey Lewis, John Cougar Mellencamp), which led to Bon Jovi after Slippery When Wet exploded. From there, hair metal was a natural next step. I did love Hysteria, and from there the music kept getting heavier and/or raunchier. Poison followed Def Leppard. Then it was Mötley Crüe. Then Guns 'N Roses. Then Metallica.
When I hit Anthrax - probably around early 1989 - I found something that I really loved. First of all, they rocked hard. They played fast and loud, and that was all right by me. I think the real appeal was that they didn't seem to take themselves too seriously. Even at that young age, I had started to notice that the makeup and hair metal stuff was pretty peabrained. Metallica and Megadeth, meanwhile, seemed to be so serious and dark. Anthrax had their serious moments, but they were more likely to write songs about comic books or movies. Their look was genuine, too. Concerned neither with tattoos and leater nor the "all black" look, they were comfortable in their Vision Street Wear topped with a hockey jersey groove. I dug their humor and I dug their sincerity. I still do, even if I don't enjoy their music quite as much as I did back then.
Make no mistake, they were a metal band (and one of the best of 'em), but their acceptance and endorsement of rap and punk went a long way toward my own welcoming of those genres.