Josh Smith

Josh Smith (Northlane): 10 Albums That Influenced Me As A Musician

Decisions, decisions

When we asked Northlane‘s Josh Smith what are 10 albums that have influenced him as a musician, some of the answers were quite surprising you know…


1. Slipknot – IOWA

By the time I listened to Slipknot I was well acquainted with Metal, but I had NEVER heard anything as desperately angry as the record IOWA. It was painful to listen to the first time I heard it. To me this record sets the standard for anything extreme and the songs off it still resonate with me today just as they did back then, and given the band’s massive success in the meantime I’m not the only one.


2. Slayer – REIGN IN BLOOD

Slayer was one of the bands that introduced me to metal, I spent hours upon hours learning their riffs in my bedroom and sometimes I still jam them (no shame!). It’s very hard for me to pinpoint which one of their records was the most influential to me, but the one with the most bangers on it for me is the one they’re most infamous for releasing – Reign in Blood. This record is a short, sharp punch in the face and contains one of the most iconic moments ever written in metal.


3. Karnivool – SOUND AWAKE

Karnivool was my introduction to the world of prog rock. I knew about the band, liked the band but then we got to tour with them a few years back and I grew to LOVE the band. The soundscapes and textures that dance around the huge riffs on this album are mesmerising, Ian Kenny’s vocals soaring over the top are perfectly placed and the grooves are just infectious. Karnivool taught us a new way of performing, showed us that a powerful performance can come from the fingers and the energy of a show can flow from the prowess of the songs. To me, Sound Awake is the record that embodies who they are as a band the most



I remember a friend from school showing me this record when it had just come out. Prior to I’d listened to Deliverance and Ghost Reveries a bit and I liked it but my attention span was a little short. Damnation at the time was too soft for my juvenile and almost elitist tastes in music. Now I think it’s one of Opeth’s most powerful records. But it’s not Blackwater park. For me this is their record with the most profound songwriting, the deliveries that impacted me the most, and the riffs that grabbed my attention and held onto it. The production is perfect, this really is a timeless album. It taught me the importance of repetition, measure & shade.


5. Korn – ISSUES

Korn completely changed the game when they blew apart the burgeoning NuMetal scene. This band caught me in my infancy of listening to heavy music and I’ve been a fan ever since. They are the reason I first picked up a 7 string guitar. Their dark, moody, heavy, sludgy sound takes a sombre twist on Issues and while I don’t think it was quite as matured as Untouchables was, Issues was a case of the right place at the right time for me.


6. Tool – 10,000 DAYS

I don’t think Tool is comparable to any band to ever exist. It’s hard for me to name a favourite record too but I would think that 10,000 Days represents their greatest effort to date. While I love the sonics of what Tool are and the incredible  way that they write music, what speaks to me even more than the guitar parts are the lyrics. James Maynard Keenan spoke to me through his thought provoking lyrics in a way that I don’t think anyone else had. The most profound example of this is a cut off 10,000 days called “right in two”. His work sets an example of me, something to look up to, an artist using their platform to provoke change.

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7. Parkway Drive – KILLING WITH A SMILE

I don’t really need to tell anyone why Parkway Drive are such an influential band in music, but I think our particular experience is unique. You see, as an Australian band the odds are really stacked against you, and opportunities have always been limited. Now there’s a path paved and more scaffolding for heavy music in our country to develop, but in 2005 there wasn’t. What I took away from Parkway was work ethic, dedication and perseverance. They succeeded, and showed kids like me at the time that chasing our dreams in music could work out for the best. Without this inspiration I doubt Northlane would be who we are today, and I will never forget who I have to thank for that.



I don’t think any guitar player matches the virtuosity of Steve Vai. He’s quirky, he’s eccentric and embodies everything that drew me to this instrument on the Album “Passion and Warfare”. It’s the first instrumental record with a guitar in it that grabbed me. I’d never heard emotion translate without words like this before when I heard it. It shifted my paradigm of what I thought was plausible on the instrument, and how feelings could be envoked and conveyed through musical nuance. He also shreds like nobody else and melted my face off.



When I first heard Darkthrone i didn’t get it. Why would anyone record something so lo-fi, so dark, so cruel on the ears. I came around a few years later and it all made sense to me. The way this record opens still sends chills down my spine still to this day. The morbid side of me appreciates it with all the corpse paint, chants and chainsaw guitars. It’s a landmark album in the genre. It taught me to embrace the darker side of music and the darker side of myself when expressing. There’s a reason people are drawn to Black Metal, steeped in all it’s history and the horrible atrocities associated intertwined with it.


10. Van Halen – 1984

I couldn’t write this list without mentioning Van Halen. Van Halen is supercharged rock and roll, They wrote the rulebook for the genre and Eddie reinvented guitar playing as we know it. He was responsible for so much innovation beyond playing the instrument too. He invented the “super strat”, he invented “high gain”, terms synonymous with Heavy Metal as we know it. He’s arguably one of the most important people in history to learn the guitar. I picked 1984 because it was the most banger-laiden record they ever put together, and Panama is my favourite Van Halen track.

Josh also gave us these 5 extra ones, which we’ll forget doesn’t add up to 10 overall but shh

Megadeth – Rust in Peace
Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power
Misery Signals – Controller
Architects – Hollow Crown
Strapping Young Lad – Alien

Thank you Josh ! We’ll see you in November !! NEVER SAY DIE! TOUR TICKETS