Staff Infections – September 2020

Hello, friends. It’s October, and it’s time for Staff Infections, where, normally, we discuss what the last Rites staff has been listening to for the past month. Right now, however, we’re going to talk about Eddie Van Halen. In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard the news, Edward Van Halen succumbed to cancer this past week at age 65. Though the Van Halen camp was notoriously tight-lipped about such things, Ed had been rumored to be battling a recurrence of cancer for years now, so it wasn’t entirely shocking for me personally to learn of his passing, but it was nonetheless devastating. I remember distinctly the first time I heard a Van Halen album. The year and the album were both 1984, and I was nine years old. One of my friends had brought over one of those battery-operated, portable tape recorders that were popular in the 80s. In said tape recorder was Van Halen’s 1984. As fortune would have it, my friend left my house for some reason without his tape recorder, and I spent that entire, glorious summer afternoon on my front porch listening to 1984 over and over. It was the first time I’d ever listened to an entire rock record that didn’t belong to my parents. It was the first time I really listened to and enjoyed music of my time. As I’m sure you can imagine, it blew my fucking mind, just as I’m sure everyone’s mind is blown when they hear Van Halen for the first time, be it 1978, 1984 or 2020.

Eddie wasn’t, strictly speaking, a metal player, but his influence on the genre is profound in many ways. From a technique standpoint, he’s influenced, well, everyone who has touched an electric guitar since 1978, but to name just a few specific metal examples, Randy Rhoads, Dimebag Darrell and Trey Azagthoth. Ed was famous for his two-hand tapping and whammy bar tricks, among many other techniques, but his influence on guitar playing extended far beyond technique. Guitar players became, and still are obsessed with recreating Ed’s famous “brown sound” and so replicating the gear Ed used became almost as important as copying his technique. Ed’s famous Frankenstein guitar, which he built himself, ushered in the super-strat era, when companies such as Kramer, Jackson, Ibanez and others sold thousands of humbucker and Floyd Rose tremolo-equipped, Stratocaster-shaped guitars. This style of guitar is so ubiquitous in metal, examples are scarcely needed. Furthermore, Eddie also had a great influence on the sound of modern high-gain amplifiers. When word got out that Eddie was using Marshall amplifiers that may or may not have been modified by a man named Jose Arredondo, who owned a little repair shop called ARRCO electronics, many now-famous players purchased modified Marshalls from Jose, including James Hetfield, Gary Holt, Steve Vai and Mick Mars. An industry sprung up around modifying Marshalls, and, to this day, many boutique amplifier manufactures still make models based around the “Jose-mod”.

Eddie was even more directly involved in shaping the sound of metal when he worked with Peavey to release his first signature amplifier, the 5150, in 1992. The 5150, and its successor the 6505 (Ed ended his relationship with Peavey in 2004, to start his own signature brand of amps and guitars, EVH, with Fender, so Peavey renamed the 5150 the 6505, but it’s essentially the same amplifier.) have become the premier amps for extreme metal, and have been employed by the likes of Carcass, My Dying Bride, Suffocation, Blood Incantation, In Flames, and Opeth, to name but a few.

As great a player as Eddie Van Halen was, and as great as his influence on technique and gear was to players over the years, the greatest gift Eddie gave to the world was his own music. More than just amazing solos, Eddie wrote great riffs, great hooks, and with the help of his brother Alex, Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, and Sammy Hagar,  Ed crafted songs that are beloved by millions the world over. We’ll never see another like him. Despite all the imitators he inspired, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen will forever remain inimitable.

I think we’ll skip the album of the month portion of the feature this time around, because I don’t really give a shit at the moment. I’m listening to Van Halen, and you should be too. As always, though, check out our staff-curated Spotify playlist if you want to hear selections form this month’s staff playlists, share you own playlist in the comments, and, while you’re at it, give us your favorite Van Halen album.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Stay safe, stay sane, and we’ll see you next month.


  • Zach Duvall
    Aspid – Extravasation
    Airbag – A Day at the Beach
    Septage – Septic Decadence
    Dark Quarterer – The Etruscan Prophecy
    Autonoesis – Autonoesis
    Autopsy – Skull Grinder
  • Ryan Tysinger
    Autonoesis – Autonoesis
    Paradise Lost – Medusa
    Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
    Onirik – The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity
    Isengard – Vårjevndøgn
    Cryptae – Nightmare Traversal
  • Danhammer Obstkrieg
    Bvdub – Wrath & Apathy
    Tyresta – All We Have
    Enslaved – Utgard
    Depravity – Grand Malevolence
    Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
    Thelonious Monk – Palo Alto
  • Andrew Edmunds
    Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
    Dropdead – 2020
    Candlemass – Tales Of Creation
    Ratt – Out Of The Cellar
    Paradise Lost – Obsidian
    New York Dolls – New York Dolls
  • Manny-O-Lito
    Enslaved – Utgard
    Blazon Rites – Dulce Bellum Inexpertis
    Wytch Hazel – III:Pentecost
    Dark Quarter – Pompei
    Zephaniah Ohora – Listening to the Music
    Arabs in Aspic – Madness and Magic
  • Dave Pirtle
    Porcupine Tree – In Absentia
    Hulkoff – Pansarfolk
    Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?
    Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
    Winter’s Verge – The Ballad of James Tig
    En Minor – When the Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out
  • Spencer Hotz
    Invincible Force – Decomposed Sacramentum
    Luna’s Call – Void
    Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
    Pharmacist – Medical Renditions of Grinding Decomposition
    Opeth – Blackwater Park
    Atramentus – Stygian
  • Captain
    Possessed Steel – Aedris
    O.L.D. – Lo Flux Tube
    Morbific – Pestilent Hordes Demo
    UGK – Super Tight…
    Ifernach – Gaqtaqaiaq
    Septage – Septic Decadence
  • Lone Watie
    The Lord Weird Slough Feg – Discography
    Autonoesis – Autonoesis
    Possessed Steel – Aedris
    Pharmacist – Medical Renditions of Grinding Decomposition
    Soup – Remedies
    La Maschera di Cera – S.E.I.
  • Jeremy Morse
    Van Halen – Everything with Dave
    Aborted – Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done
    Incantation – Sect of Vile Divinities
    Morbid Angel – Abominations of Desolation
    Slayer – Repentless
    Darkthrone – Old Star

Posted by Jeremy Morse

Riffs or GTFO.

  1. Van Halen – Women and Children First
    Van Halen – Fair Warning
    Van Halen – iPod playlist
    Borknagar – True North
    Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking
    Motörhead – Motörhead
    Queensrÿche – The Warning
    Siouxsie and the Banshees – Kaleidoscope
    Repugnant – Epitome of Darkness
    Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning
    Scorpions – Animal Magnetism


    1. Man, I have been on a kick with True North! It didn’t catch for me quite as quickly as some of the other writers here, but it’s been treating me so right lately. Stoked to see all that Van Halen on your list!


  2. Expander – Neuropunk Boostergang
    Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
    Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet / Nil Recurring
    Van Halen – Van Halen
    Death – Full discography
    Control Denied – The Fragile Art of Existence
    Havukruunu – Uinuous syömein sota
    The Ocean – Phanerozoic II

    I hadn’t given much time to Van Halen until the last week, but putting on Van Halen self-titled was revelatory in a way I can only match with the first time I heard Hendrix on Are You Experienced, or back when I was a teenager hearing Master of Puppets.


  3. Enslaved – Utgard
    Cytotoxin – Nuklearth
    Vredehammer – Venomous
    Slint – Spiderland
    Run The Jewels – RTJ4
    Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition – Ch. III

    Favorite Van Halen album: ‘Women And Children First’ followed closely by their debut. Setting aside the colossal charisma and vocal talents of DLR – the instrumental symbiosis between Eddie, Alex, and Mike is nearly incomprehensible. It’s lightning in a bottle, a magical thing. In the grand scheme of popular music, I think one would be hard-pressed to find a *band* that is as tight, cohesive, and complimentary as VH.


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