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You are truly on a desert island. Sand and sea surround you, with no life in sight. As your ship went down, you managed to salvage a boombox, some batteries, and a 60-minute cassette tape you made for emergencies like this. The tape will be your only companion for the foreseeable future. What is on it?

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"Wires" - Dead and Gone

I first heard this song while on tour with my old band Anodyne, way back in 1998. We were playing a youth center in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the Dead and Gone record "T.V. Baby" was playing over the small sound system while we were setting up. This song always reminds me of that night.

"For Her Light" - Fields of the Nephilim

Fields of the Nephilim somehow managed to slip below the radar of a lot of people, at least in the U.S. This song epitomizes everything I love about this band: dark, intense atmospheres and Carl McCoy’s stentorian voice.

"Into the Crypts of Rays" - Celtic Frost

Frost are one of the most influential bands in extreme music. Like Slayer and Black Sabbath, I don't know anyone who doesn’t at least appreciate Tom G. and the various incarnations of Frost. When I first heard this song, I was immersed in punk rock and hardcore, but the rawness of this song had more in common with early Black Flag than Judas Priest or King Diamond.

"Shut Me Down" - Rowland S. Howard

I discovered Pop Crimes, the record that features this track, after I discovered that Howard had passed away. It was literally about a month after he died when I picked this up. I read in an interview that he was really happy about the new material and was hoping to get out on the road again, but none of that materialized. It was sad. This song is my favorite track on the record; the line “the stars above me, the night so deep that I could drown” always chokes me up a little. I always imagined that this track would have been perfect for the soundtrack of Wild at Heart, the film by David Lynch.

"Beverly Hills" - Circle Jerks

Every mix tape needs a Circle Jerks song, and “Beverly Hills” is my track. Probably one of the first American hardcore songs I ever heard.

"Die by the Sword" - Slayer

Though I love Reign in Blood, the early records are sometimes the go-to records for me. Also, this track is featured in the film River's Edge.

"House of Suffering" - Bad Brains

This is one of the toughest-sounding songs on my favorite Bad Brains record. It’s one of the most cock rock-sounding hardcore records ever made, but the songs shred. I put "House of Suffering" on when I need to deadlift or when I’m getting ready to do a heavy run.

"6116" - Leviathan

The first time I heard this song, I was driving around Richmond with Dave Witte, and he unleashed this on me. It was summertime, and we had the windows open on this song cranked at a severe volume.

"Belief" - Neurosis

The summer of 1999 was probably the best summer I’ve had in the past two decades. It was a solid two months of good memories for me, and this song always reminds me of that time.

. . .

Hammerhead - "Double Negative"

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"Lord of All Fevers & Plague" - Morbid Angel

This is a study in brutality and destruction from beginning to end. Morbid Angel rip.

“Double Negative” – Hammerhead

The Hammerhead record Into the Vortex occupies the same place as Damaged by Black Flag to me. It’s dark and heavy without being overtly metal. There’s also a really cool video for this song on the Amphetamine Reptile video collection Dope, Guns and Fucking Up Your Video.

“Lord of This World” – Black Sabbath

Yeah, this has been part of the insomnia soundtrack for most of my life.

"Disorder" - Joy Division

This track always reminds me of girls I knew back in the mid-'90s that used to go to Unbroken shows.

"Little Black Angel" - Death in June

I saw Death in June with NON back in the late '90s when I lived in Boston. The show was at a place called Manray, a goth club in Cambridge which has now been renovated into a condominium complex. "Little Black Angel" was the hit that night for me.

"Cease to Exist" - Charles Manson

There used to be a record store in Danbury called Trash American Style. Malcolm, the proprietor of the shop, was a huge Manson fan. I found the Lie LP there along with a few bootleg cassettes of him performing songs in jail. I thought the title "Cease to Exist” sounded real heavy.

"Dead Head" - Godflesh

Streetcleaner terrified me the first time I heard it. The record crushed me. I felt changed after I heard it. The version of the record I had included “Dead Head”, which was almost like a salve to my wounded brain after it had been brutalized by the first part of the record.

"Life of Pain" - Black Flag

This is another part of the insomnia soundtrack. My old band Anodyne covered this song for a Black Flag tribute record that Initial Records put out. It was fun to record this song, but it's a pale simulacrum of the original.

"Blind Dumb Deaf" - Cocteau Twins

This is one of the most beautiful songs by a band known for writing beautiful music.

— Mike Hill

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Mike Hill sings and plays guitar for Tombs. He blogs at Everythingwentblack. Tombs will tour with Wormrot in March (dates) and release a new record in June.

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