Hello and welcome to my new Blog Article Series, Get (Into) What You Paid For.
The aim of this series is to save myself a bit of cash, try something new from a Blogging standpoint and most importantly, get my money’s worth from all the music that I paid for but never listened to enough, or enjoyed enough.
You see, there are some albums, like Mastodon’s Crack The Skye, or Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime, or Slipknot’s debut, or The Libertine’s Self Titled album, where I’ve listened to them so much that I feel that I’ve listened to hundreds and hundreds of times. I know them inside out and back to front and could probably sing every melody and lyric along to them.
I mightn’t have actually listened to them that much, I’m not entirely sure, but you get the idea anyway… sometimes I’ll buy something and listen to it a hell of a lot, and really feel that I’ve got my money’s worth.
Then there’s other times, when I pick up an album, and just barely ever listen to it (and we’re not talking about just finding an album that I dislike here). This is especially evident a while after the purchase. There are albums that I own that I haven’t listen to in years and years. I find that with most records, the period of discovery is usually when you listen to anything most anyway, but there’s some albums that I practically never ever dust off again after I’ve had my initial curiosity satisfied.
It can definitely happen when I buy a few albums at the same time, or when it’s a gift-getting occasion and I receive multiple albums at once. Its like, there’s always a “loser record” that would have gotten loads of listens in a slow month, but alongside all the records all at once, it somehow slips through the cracks. Even though logically I should be able to just wait and hear it later and have the discovery period later, more often than not that “birthday loser album” just always has a psychological blockade. It can never become a regular, or a favourite. Even if I chose to defy my own brain, and make an active effort to contradict myself and listen to it again and again, somehow it always has this “I never listen to this one enough” tag attached to it.
I am often very easily locked into a pattern too. And so, when a band that I liked all along release a new album when all my mental energy is spent on a new pattern, that album can go by unnoticed. So, for example, I’ve listened to Iron Maiden’s A Matter Of Life And Death and The Final Frontier albums more times than many albums I like much better, to try and get my money’s worth, but because I was too busy with Thrash or Metalcore or Stoner or whatever when they were released, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about them at their time of release as I should have been and can never shake the feeling that I haven’t given them enough time. Conversely, something like Monster Magnet’s Powertrip got heavily listened to when I first got it, and even though if you stacked both up against eachother I’ve probably listened to more of The Final Frontier than Powertrip, Powertrip feels like its gotten its dues and I feel as if I owe something to The Final Frontier, almost like I screwed it over and hurt its feelings or something.
For the inaugural post I’ll be setting myself a challenge. This one will be just a little bit easier than normal. This challenge, the first in the series, is for me to buy no new music from now until the end of the month. That’s 13 days. It’ll actually add up to 24 days since the last day I bought new music for myself however (I got BLS’s Mafia and Shot To Hell and Alice In Chain’s Dirt earlier in the month).
24 days isn’t bad for a first attempt.
You may be reading this at home and thinking “24 Days without buying an album, that’s the easiest thing in the world.” Not for me it isn’t. Its kind of like going 10 days without chocolate for someone like me. Or two days without a cigarette for a smoker.
I find it incredibly difficult to not buy albums. I use buying them as a mood lifter if I have a bad day, I use buying them as a boredom killer, I use buying them as inspiration for other hobbies like weightlifting and Blogging. I enjoy the purchasing of them itself. I enjoy it almost as much as the process of collection, and close to as much as listening to them.
So. Onto the main section of the article then… distracting myself from the screeching demon that insistently tortures and tempts me to buy more albums. The bottomless pit that bellows out for fresh sacrifices to be thrown in. The insatiable, unsatisfiable hunger for the acquisition of new music.
I’ve been listening to (and am still currently listening to as I type this) Queens Of The Stone Age’s latest album. I’m feeling keen on it. The first song is just ok, as is the 6th track ‘Kalopsia.’ Tracks 2 & 3 however, are absolute bangers. The very fun (in a dour way, but still fun) ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ really gets a smile on my face. The track that follows, the very depressing ‘The Vampyre Of Time And Memory’ is really enjoyable in another way. I used to really like it when it came on my phone on shuffle, and its depressing and bleak lyrics would really chime with my mood at the time. I was homesick and heartbroken and very ill and the building I was living in was in awful conditions and I just felt horrible all day everyday for about a solid two months. I think that song really captures that whole time but presents it in an entertaining way. This next two songs, ‘Fairweather Friends’ & ‘Smooth Sailing’ are quite the opposite however, they’re good rocking fun. They just makes me want to dance around. The Title Track really reminds me of the last two Radiohead albums.
Now that that’s over, I’ve stuck on Pulkas’ debut (and only) album, Greed. I bought this because I liked the sound of them in Stephen Hill’s Blogs. They’re a British Nu Metal band that were signed to Earache. I intended to write a First Impressions Article about it, and never got around to it, and I’ve never really been able to sit down and put this record on because I felt that I’d be somehow wasting it, or lying, or cheating by doing so.
The first song is a bit unremarkable. The next song, ‘Rubber Room’ is a bit bouncier, catchier and generally more enjoyable. I especially enjoy when it speeds up. I find that a lot of Nu Metal suffered from a lack of variety in Tempos. They were all very good at quiet-to-loud, but often not so much with slow-to-fast. They’d just stay at a slightly slowish midpace for an entire career. ‘Betrayal’ opens with a riff that very much reminds me of Flaw. Its following stop-start section is the absolute stereotype quintessential Nu Metal verse. If you wanted to show someone what most of a Nu Metal album sounds like, that bit would be a good candidate. The screamy section later is really enjoyable though. There’s a tom rolling bit that reminds me of Disturbed’s ‘Down With The Sickness’ but less cheesy. ‘Control’ has some great parts. The highlight of the record for me is the faster ‘This Is It’ which sort of reminds me a little of Satryricon’s ‘Fuel For Hatred.’
I also listened to a few one-off tracks that I’d bought on iTunes. First up; Pat Benetar’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot.’ I first heard it in Guitar Hero 3. I used to be a snob and resent people who liked songs because they were in things like Guitar Hero, (or the Jackass soundtrack, or advertisements). Not so much anymore. I love this song, its so fun and summery, which is surprising given the domestic abuse subject matter. The song reminds me of Blink 182 in a very loose way, its got that sort of super commercial, super happy sound that they have, but obviously the actual sound is pretty different. The first few notes of the guitar solo really remind me of Brian May of Queen, but the rest of it doesn’t.
There was also ‘97% Static’ by the Djent band Monuments. Its quite enjoyable. Not as enjoyable as Periphery, the best Djent band. I got my brother Periphery’s debut album as a gift, and have heard quite a bit of it in the car on my way to work. It was really interesting. I also want to try out Tesseract’s new album. Not until after the challenge though. I have a sort of positive mental disposition towards Djent. I know a lot of people online are very Djent-skeptic but it seems like a real subgenre to me. I’d like to hear the most important albums from it. Skyharbour and Textures are also tempting.
I’ve also been giving the first two Deris-era Helloween albums a lot of playtime. They have interlinked album artwork, and both have a vague connection to Keeper Of The Seven Keys with stuff in the booklet. Which is weird because none of them are concept albums. I read an amusing review that pointed out that Helloween said Time Of The Oath was a concept album about Nostradamus. Then pointed out the content of each song. A racing car, Disobeying your mother, Power Metal itself, Aliens looking for a home etc. Both albums have a catchy lead single-style track 2 and closer, a longer piece, a few ballads, and a silly fun song.
I think I prefer Oath to Rings overall, but my favourite song of the pair (‘Sole Survivor’) is off Rings. I frequently find myself singing a lot of ‘Wake Up The Mountain’ and ‘Before The War’ these days.
Oath is a bit heavier and harder and more direct, whereas there’s still a few songs on Rings that have a certain Hair Metal/Sleeze Rock vibe to them. Still, it opens and closes with very traditionally Helloween songs (in fact ‘Still We Go’ was described as a promise to always continue to play Power Metal, as opposed to the experimental material of the two albums which preceded it.)
I like them, but not as much as I like the Keepers, and not as much as Gamma Ray in general. I’m quite tempted to go further into the Helloween/Gamma Ray family tree. I’m quite tempted to try out a full album by either Iron Saviour or Primal Fear in particular.
Just before I started this challenge, I did something that was sort of in the spirit of this series, which was listen to Boston’s debut album. I had bought it for a First Impressions article, but I have let it fall by the wayside since. I decided to listen to it again yesterday. The first two songs are really good, and ‘Rock And Roll Band’ is fun. The rest is a mixture of stuff that sounds like Queen, Rush, Kiss and occasionally Yes. I like the album, but its sort of unremarkable. Its quietly good, in its own subtle way.
I have to say, I’m already quite tempted to break my challenge. I bought two Madball albums for under £4 each on Amazon and there’s still one left that they’re also selling that cheap (Look My Way). I also want to buy Savatage’s debut album, but doing so is a bit risky because further completing my collection will also make me likely to buy their third album, Fight For The Rock, but its meant to be awful according to most reviews.
I also feel like trying out Boston’s second album, I think with two albums there’d be enough of the good tracks to keep me happy. I haven’t seen it for cheap.
Also, despite being mostly out-of-action, Dozer, the Swedish Stoner Metal band (responsible for one of my favourite albums ever, Through The Eyes Of Heathens) have released an MP3 only EP, called Vultures. Apparently the tracks are all demos for Through The Eyes Of Heathens but different songs. The sort of demos like Slipknot’s ‘Despise’ and ‘Interloper’ where they’re so different that they’re different songs but that are similar enough that you can recognize parts.
I’m pretty tempted by that. If it’d come out when I was in my biggest Dozer phase I’d be all over it, but at the minute my brain is more interested in Power Metal (specifically Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius) and sort of modern Alternative Prog like Fair To Midland, Jurojin, Rishloo and Coheed’.
I’ll tell you what I’m most likely to break my challenge with though, and that’s another Melechesh album.
Well, I’m not going to buy anything tonight. That’s one day sorted. I’m tempted. But seeing as I have bought other people presents lately the screeching Demon of need has been temporarily fooled. It’ll probably get harder as time goes by. Also, thanks to Heavy Metal Overload for the inspiration.
I’ll write more updates between now and the end of the challenge.