New York based doom band Sigils released their debut album You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves last week, which Geoff Topley described as a very accomplished album that ensures the primal, raw, heavy tones of doom metal are present, but manages to convey grace and beauty.” in his review for Echoes and Dust.

We asked the band about their influences and both guitarist Tom Colello and vocalist Salvatore Rex got back to us with the following choices….

Cave In – Jupiter

When I was younger, I was enamored with Cave In. Beyond Hypothermia and Until Your Heart Stops were in constant rotation for me and I could not get enough. I finally had the opportunity to see them and, much to my dismay at the time, they were in their transition from metalcore riff lords to what everyone at the time claimed was “space rock.” Being the thick skulled mutant I was as a teen, I didn’t “get it” then (disclaimer, I am still a mutant). It wasn’t until years later that I fully appreciated this album for the work of art that it is, and what propelled the band toward breaking out of being just another metalcore back and becoming the giants they are. This record made me want to take chances and risks when it came to songwriting, especially when it came to the metal and hardcore bands I was playing in over the years. Always pushing the envelope sonically. 

Shai Hulud – That Within Blood Ill-Tempered

In my high school days, I remember hearing much acclaim about Shai Hulud. I remember seeing the name and thinking it odd (not having been familiar with Frank Herbert’s Dune series), hearing the album Hearts Once Nourished… and not really understanding the appeal. I did get to see them a few times and was blown away by the energy of the band and the crowd as well. Then came 2003’s That Within Blood Ill-Tempered and I was hooked. I vividly remember being dumbfounded by some of the songs and thinking “I could never write or play anything like this”. Fast forward a decade and I got to play some of these songs, that meant so much to me, with this band across the world. This album changed my view of hardcore and, after learning to play these songs, it changed my outlook on songwriting in general. No one person has had as much of an impact on my songwriting as Matt Fox.

Blood Red – Hostage

Being on Long Island before the internet boom was an interesting and wonderful thing in some regards. The local scene here has been, and still is, overflowing with talent and genius. Bands come and go, some leave more of a lasting mark than others. Blood Red was born from the ashes of LI scene heavyweights Silent Majority and Inside, a recipe for perfection. On their only full length release, they capture a perfect blend of beautiful melody and raw emotion in both the musical and vocal performances. This album showed me the beauty of lyricism as well as sensible songwriting; leaving the necessary space for each instrument to breathe and fill its role in the context of a song. These were dreadfully smart songs written by people that lived a few blocks away from me and it was intimidating to say the least. It has continued to inspire me as this was the group formed after what bands these guys were known for broke up. They were in their late 20s, working full time jobs, doing the band thing for fun and writing songs they wanted to write for themselves. This resonates more with me the older I get. I made sure I got to see this band as much as I possibly could when they were playing. They will go down as one of the most underrated and under-appreciated bands from this scene. 

Joanna Newsom – Ys

I tend to think of art as something that gives me permission. Hearing this record for the first time it absolutely destroyed me. It gave me the permission to think about writing lyrics that were big and difficult. It challenged me and became a touchstone for the words I write. There are no throw-away lines to fill a need; every single word is necessary. It is a testament to how poetry and music are closer than I thought they were. Some of the lines on this record are so perfect it is nothing short of demoralizing.

A Silver Mt. Zion – Horses in the Sky

This record is so many things. It is ugly, beautiful, strange and honest. More than anything this record gave me permission to be as authentic as possible in anything I write. It feels like these songs were written for absolutely no one. In an industry where everyone is clamoring for exposure and listener count, it is nothing short of bravery. These songs are also a really sobering reminder that there are really gorgeous and nuanced ways that we can all write about politics. It is a record that is angry, while also being so genuinely hopeful. I think about it every time I write anything.

Low – Things We Lost in the Fire

There are exactly two kinds of music I was interested in making in my life. Music I made before I heard this record, and music I wanted to make after I heard this record. I remember exactly where I was when my best friend showed me Dinosaur Act for the first time. I was driving to this tiny bar on the east end of Long Island to play a solo noise set. He put it on, and I felt chills. It was simple, it was exactly what I wanted to do but I had been without a road map to get there. This record became my road map for everything I made for the last twelve years. It is a testament to minimalism. You don’t need a million things going on if you’re writing songs that are interesting and good. Let this one challenge you too.

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