Trey Azagthoth does seem to have a penchant for being overtly poignant and honest in interviews (at least the early ones). There's an interesting rehearsal bootleg from the mid-80's in which he first hears Pete Sandoval's blast beats from a Terrorizer demo and says something to the effect of "I've NEVER heard anything like that before!" before going on to mention what he thinks they're good for, all in awe. Although clearly not the god father of blast beats that he often dubs himself as, I have yet to hear that style of drumming as refined as Sandoval's performance was on World Downfall prior to its release (double bass tinkering notwithstanding).
Anyway, this thread would be hopelessly incomplete without the mention of Masters like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, ect. as influences. If nothing else, most every founding death metal act seemed to have at least been aware of the sheer depth and massiveness of seminal classical pieces and saw it fit to emulate that sense in their own music; other musicians, as the Azagthoth interview indicates, took the influence much more directly.