Get (Into) What You Paid For: Volume 2 [Day 29] – Happy Week, Whole Lotta Listens

Ok. So after splurging my last paycheck on an absolute tonne of stuff, from concert tickets to Blu-Rays of concerts (with a crap load of albums and graphic novels in there somewhere too), I’ve instituted the second “Don’t buy anything” month here on the blog, so as not to run out of money and get evicted from my house and have to build a nest out of 2nd-hand CDs from Zoverstocks and start eating Batman comics for sustenance.

I say second, because if the title of the post didn’t already give it a way, this is an ongoing series. In the summer I became inspired by the awesome Heavy Metal Overload blog and decided that if I’m going to go easy on my spending, I should make it easier on myself by occupying the time I would normally spend shopping by blogging about my abstinence and what temptations almost cause me to break it. You can read how the first month turned out here. (…Or, if you don’t particularly care about how a 25 year old nerd doesn’t spend his money, and are just killing time online, you can read about the legendary Irish Giant Finn MacCool here.)

I’m currently twenty-nine days into my challenge. It was supposed to last to the end of the month, but I’ve had to add an extra five days to the end of it too as punishment for buying a Queensryche tour T-shirt when I saw them live.

I haven’t really been thinking too much about buying things this week. I’ve just been really happy in my personal life and slightly distracted from the world of acquiring media to consume for entertainment. But… I am still me, so, obviously some products will still catch my eye. So what things are making me want to break my no non-essential purchases pledge and buy the living daylights out of them?

Well; I know I’ll be getting God Of War Ascension, Uncharted 3, Bioshock Infinite and Batman Arkham Origins at some stage, and probably soon before the call of exam revision and essay writing is too powerful to responsibly ignore. However, as I’ve already got three or four unplayed PS3 games that I’ve bought but not yet opened, even more games would just cause a bigger backlog, so I’m not going to break the pledge over games.

I’ve also added a crapload of comics to my “I’m getting those” list. After reading Final Crisis, I’m tempted to read The Return Of Bruce Wayne, Time And The Batman, Flashpoint, as well as Infinite Crisis, Crisis On Infinite Earths and Countdown To Final Crisis, as well as possibly 52 and The Darkseid-centered Grant Morrison written Justice League that he mentioned in the Final Crisis forward.

That’s a lot of stuff and probably massively expensive so it might take all year to slowly pick those up though, and more “priority” Batman titles that I already wanted may get bought first instead anyway.

I noticed there are Babyshambles B-Sides which I do not own, so iTunes is calling me like a siren to add them to my collection. There are possibly also one or two Arctic Monekys B-sides that I don’t own yet too but I’m not sure as I didn’t check for fear of instant-purchasing them.

They are all tempting I’ll admit, but I can wait until the challenge is up for those. Hopefully Batman Arkham Origins will go down a bit in price by then anyway.

I think the only thing that might make me break the challenge (again, Queensryche Shirt, remember?) is tickets to Killswitch Engange with Trivium, due to the time-sensitive, might sell out nature of concert tickets. I’ve seen Trivium before and it was ferocious, and I’m quite keen to see Killswitch for the first time.

Ok. So that’s the temptations covered. Now; at this point in one of these articles I’ll usually start writing about my real-time listening of an album to distract me from buying things.

I’ve been away for a week or so though, and a bit behind on writing these (yet thanks to the invention of iPods, not behind on listening to music…EVER!) so I’m going to list a few observations, thoughts and opinions on several albums that I’ve been listening to in the past week or so.

First off, I’ve been listening more and more to Deris era Helloween, especially Rabbit Don’t Come Easy, The Dark Ride and Better Than Raw. Sometimes reviews that I read about them seem to suggest that these are massively different albums with drastic stylistic differences and that Helloween are really inconsistent in style. I don’t find that. I just find it all to be superbly enjoyable, melodic Metal with great guitar work and a lot of fun sing-along vocal lines. I mean there are some Zack Wylde style harmonics on like two songs on The Dark Ride and about two songs with a non-metal interlude on Rabbit’ but that’s literally only a few seconds of an album each. Sometimes the lyrics are poor (“I’ve got something growing in my pants”) but the vocal delivery and riffs or leads always save them. Its just fell good, happy music that makes me enjoy myself too, which is always a plus. It just puts you in a good mood.

I’ve also been listening, almost abusively so, to Protest The Hero, especially Kezia and Scurrilous, which its almost difficult to describe how much I love, as well as to detail the literally hundreds of great little parts that captivate my imagination. So many priceless vocals lines, great guitar parts, amazing fills and creative bass lines, so many brilliant changes, so many heavy bits, so many melodic bits, all the best parts of Coheed and all the best parts of Children Of Bodom crashing together beside hints of Parkway Drive and fitting perfectly. So many sincerely marvelous lyrics and creative deliveries thereof. Man, what a set of albums!

I’m slowly coming around to Fortress too, and I’ll soon be regularly rotating the new one (which I’ve bought but hasn’t been delivered yet) They’re a great band and their mere style is interesting enough to enjoy, before you even consider how great the songwriting is on Kezia and Scurrilous.

Side note: Stone Temple Pilot’s ‘Dead And Bloated’ track receives heavy approval from me now whenever it comes on. I really enjoy its Clutchy groove.

I’ve been listening to Babyshambles new album a lot. Initially I was a bit disappointed with it. Over time I’ve really grown to like it. I kind of thought it was a bit bland and mature for maturity’s sake but its actually just a rather decent collection of pleasant and enjoyable songs. ‘Fall from Grace’ is the clear highlight, but ‘Maybaline,’ as well as The Title Track and ‘Seven Shades’ are all great too. I especially like the bonus track ‘Cuckoo,’ which I’ve been waiting for a real version of since it was demoed years and years ago (back when I obsessively listened to all the Libertines and Babyshambles demos and sessions and used websites like AlbionArks). Interestingly, on a Babyshambles album I usually enjoy the Rockier material (eg. ‘Side Of The Road’) but the heaviest punkiest fastest song on this one, (the opener ‘Fireman’) is actually the least enjoyable track on this new record. The lyrics are a bit gibbereishy (unless I’m missing some secret arty message) and the riff is a bit boring. I love tracks like ‘Skag And Bone Man’ and ‘The Saga’ by The Libertines, and this track seems to be a similar pace, duration and energy level, but just not especially good, especially considering how great the more acoustic or stripped down tracks are on this new album are. This record almost makes me forget how bad Pete was live. Almost. ‘Fireman’ reminds me again.

I’ve listened to a bit of W.A.S.P, Quiet Riot, Motely Crue and Twisted Sister in all that time too. Not even in an intentional Hair Metal appreciation session or something, it just happened naturally. Quiet Riot have some surprisingly good tunes once you get past the commercial sheen. Motely Crue have a few good tracks but a lot of filler. Twisted Sister are fun but underwhelming and ‘just ok’ but W.A.S.P are just constantly good and heavier than all other bands of their genre. W.A.S.P are a cut above. W.A.S.P are the Bee’s Knees.

I’ve also had a relisten to the three most-classic Saxon albums (Wheels Of Steel, Strong Arm Of The Law, and Denim And Leather) and as usual, I enjoy them more each time that I hear them. I remember I listened to a Saxon greatest hits once and really disliked it but now I’m rather keen on them. I’m looking forward to seeing them support Motorhead Live in a month or so.

I’ve relistened to Trivium’s In Waves album too, which I always liked but rarely listened to. I forget how good it is. The title track is so much better than every other track that it makes me forget that every other track (and especially ‘Caustic Are The Ties That Bind’ and ‘A Grey So Dark’) is brilliant too. It’s a bit weird that I forget so much of the album when its not actually playing, but when its on I sing along with it all in my head, and like every single chorus, every guitar solo and all the breakdowns. It’s a solid and fun listen if you remember that it exists and aren’t so impressed by the brilliant Title Track that the rest fails to live up to it.

On that note, I’ve also gave Megadeth’s Supercollider a solid one-sit listen. I’ve listened to songs from it a lot on shuffle, but I’ve not been listening to it enough as a single piece. Its good. Very solid. Underrated in fact.

Furthermore, the Rishloo reunion has obviously spurred me on to listen to more Rishloo. If you’ve ever read this Blog before I won’t waste your time by yet again worshiping Rishloo and talking endlessly about how magical they are for hours on end. I’ll just snip it down to a few bullet points: I absolutely love Rishloo, I recommend the absolute bejaysus out of them. If you haven’t heard of them, please do. They’re bloody fantastic.

On a similarly positive note, I gave Grey Britain by Gallows yet another spin. Stone cold, perfect, classic album that I simply couldn’t enjoy more. I haven’t had their debut ‘click’ with me yet, but Grey Britain is really high in my list of favourite albums of the last ten years. Really high.

What else have I been listening to in this last week? Oh yeah… I listen to Five Finger Death Punch pretty regularly as it is, but when I was Gloss-Painting every single Skirting Board in a house this week, I listened to every single Five Finger Death Punch song is a big row (with the sequence on shuffle) and enjoyed every single one. I love how consistent they are, how the quality stays high all the time and any song they write could fit beside any other in a playlist. There are some minor stylistic differences on each of their albums and production jobs are not identical, but at the same time, it all fits so well together and I like literally each and every one of the songs that they’ve released so far. Maybe some of the slightly sexist stage banter and use of words like ‘faggots’ in the lyrics could do with ironing out, as that’s not something I really can enjoy or advocate, but musically and in terms of delivery, quality and consistency they are a very entertaining band. I’m quite looking forward to their new album (as in Part 2). I was going to buy expensive Avenged Sevenfold tickets just to see them supporting, but it sold out. If they tour here on their own, I’ll be there like a shot.

So; that’s the past week or so out of the way. What about now? Well; At the minute I’m just watching my long awaited Sabbaton Blu Ray “Swedish Empire Live,” which I bought about a month ago but accidentally posted to the wrong house and have only just managed to retrieve it.

Its marvelous. It’s a massive big stage and pyro spectacle-fest, with brilliant camera work, editing and sound, of a similar quality to Hammerfall’s awesome Dallhalla Blu Ray.

Side note: Why are so many Power Metal musicians in excellent physical shape. Big arms from all the fist pumping? – “Hey! Hey! Hey!” – Or is it just because they have to pose topless in more photoshoots that other types of Metal due to their fantasy lyrics so feel more obliged to get built?

I love their triumphant majestic sound and how they mange to cover different ground than Stratovarius, Helloween and Gamma Ray, but not be just another faceless generic Wizardy Elfy Fantasy band with good artwork and lyrics you’d expect but no actual cool songs. They have a bit more songwriting originality. Maybe even a bit more so than Hammerfall (with whom they are my closest reference point so far on my new-Power Metal fan status) who I really enjoy but who are less original than the other three bands that I listed. I also like that they don’t have to rely on dazzling speeds and ridiculously blistering guitar solos like DragonForce (who I’ve been enjoying a lot recently I should add, in case that looked like a criticism. It wasn’t…but at the same time having another one would be redundant – which is a surprise comment from me considering my whole thing seems to be liking something then finding six more things as close to it as possible)

The guy’s personalities are cool, their image is cool, the stage banter is sometimes amusing and the performance is grandiose, fan-centered and musically impressive. Combine that with Feelgood Power Metal music and you’ve got a really pleasing concert watching experience.

This was a pretty brilliant purchase, with a great main concert and a tonne of extra features (including whole other concerts, like Amon Amarth, Carpathian Forest and Gojira have done).

Well, I think that will wrap things up for this entry. I’ll write more before the challenge ends, when it ends, and about the aftermath. Stay tuned. Or logged in, or whatever the Blog equivalent of “Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-chanel” is.


  1. I have 52. That’s a good one. It’s kinda hard to get cheap though, because some of the four TPB versions are out of print and rare, and the all-in-one Omnibus edition is by nature expensive. Worth it though. Fast paced and completely unchallenging. Infinite Crisis has the same rare-paperbacks-versus-giant-expensive-hardback deal.

    The Return Of Bruce Wayne is something you may not enjoy based on what you told me about Grant the other day. It’s one of those “pay attention” comics. Good fun, nonetheless. Time and the Batman is a sort of fill-in volume. Could, by rights, have been presented in the other collections, but, y’know, money.

    Also, “Elfy”.


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