Its day 21 of my third Get (Into) What You Paid For challenge. So far I’ve been doing remarkably well in avoiding temptation. Usually by now I’d be getting really itchy to buy something. Perhaps its just the time of the year, maybe knowing that Christmas gifts are coming soon helps to ease the feeling of need. I used to think that it wasn’t so much the stuff itself, but the buying of it that I craved, the gratification from the shopping process rather than the results of it, but now I am not sure. I feel like I could live without making a purchase now, and presumably the reason for that I know I’ll have the stuff itself.
Maybe its part process, part result. I’m not sure. If any failed psychologists are reading, feel free to drop me a comment.
Part of it might be that I’m completely broke now, and I realize how irresponsible it would be to spend money on non-essential things, especially when a) I’ve got so bloody much already b) You can get almost anything for free and legally now on Spotify and Youtube, c) I can spin blogs out of not buying things. I’m an impulsive person at times, but usually I can think my way out of a mistake. I may want to slap someone in the chops for trying to board a train when I’m clearly exiting it and there is obviously no room for them to get on until I’ve gotten off, but the knowledge that this is inappropriate behavior with consequences is enough to save these witless rude computers from making the rest of their journey with a hand shaped red mark on their face and a sudden urge to buy ibruprofen.
[Sidenote: do you think anyone thinks iBruprofen is an Apple product?]
Part of it may also be simply that I’ve been so busy. I haven’t really had time to get itchy. I think I’ve also been self-medicating a little bit, picking out things like Circles’ EP, Decapitated’s debut and several classic Thrash albums to change up my listening regime. The change-up in what I’m listening to partly distracts me from the urge to buy new things to listen to. Circles EP is really interesting, its got a heck of a lot going for it. Its a little bit more electronic and atmospheric than the more Messugah influenced Djent bands, with a very radio-friendly singer, but more in the cheesy lighter side of Metalcore way than in the Tool-esque Tesseract way. If it was about 20% heavier it would get away with it, but the heaviness is slightly produced away and so even though I sit there enjoying the song, its got an astrix beside the “enjoyed” mark in my head. I enjoy it with the caveat that it would be better if it was a wee bit less comercial and had a wee bit more umph. I wish a Djent band would come out that had the Hatebreed heaviness, consistency and tone. Some go too far with the Death Metal or Messugah influences and some aren’t ballsy enough. I’d love one with that satisfying crunchy groove you get from a good Hatebreed song.
Outside of that, I’ve been mostly listening to stuff I’ve bought in the last two years on shuffle. There’s been a lot of Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Children Of Bodom, W.A.S.P, Queensryhe, Savatage, Saxon, Motorhead, Corrosion Of Conformity, Black Label Society, Five Finger Death Punch, Faith No More, Porcupine Tree, Fair To Midland, Jurojin, Rishloo, Coheed & Cambria, Protest The Hero, Van Halen and Thin Lizzy.
In fact, looking at my LastFM for the past three months, here is my top 50 most listened to artists:
1. Protest The Hero (1,039 Plays)
2. Helloween (563 Plays)
3. Soundgarden (437 Plays)
4. Queensrÿche (324 Plays)
5. Five Finger Death Punch (281 Plays)
6. Babyshambles (233 Plays)
7. Monster Magnet (180 Plays)
8. Pissing Razors (168 Plays)
9. Alice In Chains (159 Plays)
10. Stone Temple Pilots (151 Plays)
11. Rishloo (126 Plays)
12. Black Label Society (121 Plays)
13. Saxon (110 Plays)
14. Gamma Ray (108 Plays)
15. Metal Hammer Podcast (99 Plays)
16. Soil (92 Plays)
17. Fair To Midland (91 Plays)
17. Arctic Monkeys (91 Plays)
19. Clutch (87 Plays)
20. Trivium (81 Plays)
21. Corrosion Of Conformity (80 Plays)
22. Madball (76 Plays)
23. Life Of Agony (75 Plays)
24. Iced Earth (74 Plays)
25. W.A.S.P. (73 Plays)
26. Children Of Bodom (72 Plays)
27. Coheed And Cambria (70 Plays)
28. Cog (67 Plays)
29. Gallows (65 Plays)
30. Periphery (61 Plays)
31. AC/DC (57 Plays)
31. Motörhead (57 Plays)
31. Insomnium (57 Plays)
34. Vision Of Disorder (55 Plays)
35. Anathema (53 Plays)
35. Killswitch Engage (53 Plays)
37. Van Halen (52 Plays)
37. Megadeth (52 Plays)
37. Judas Priest (52 Plays)
40. White Zombie (51 Plays)
41. Thin Lizzy (50 Plays)
42. Hatebreed (49 Plays)
42. Porcupine Tree (49 Plays)
44. Baroness (48 Plays)
45. ZZ Top (47 Plays)
45. Lamb Of God (47 Plays)
47. Melechesh (44 Plays)
47. Chimaira (44 Plays)
49. Sick Of It All (43 Plays)
50. Anthrax (41 Plays)
That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to since moving house. Its what my brain files ‘recently’ up to.
As you can see, some recent stuff like Babyshamble’s new album and White Zombie’s two major label albums have been creeping in there too. I really like Rob Zombie’s voice here, and the music on La Sexorcisto is pleasantly reminiscent of both Pantera and Anthrax (Two of the bands I loved the most in my teens and can say are among my favourites of my life overall). It needs a better production, a far-more energetic performance and much less repetition, but more or less, it’s a pretty strong groove metal album that is very surprising in comparison to Rob Zombie solo efforts like ‘Foxy Foxy.’ Hatebreed could cover any individual song on this and it would seem like an excellent song. Yes, maybe I will just marry Hatebreed then.
You’d always hear older people than me “repping for” White Zombie, and I never got it having grown up about seven years too late to get in there naturally. With a few spins I’ve really started to enjoy that first record, and I can see why there’s such a distinction between White Zombie and his solo work in people’s minds.
That being said, given a choice, I’m unlikely to actually stick on Astro Creep 2000 and listen to it all the way though. Like Prong’s Rude Awakening, its an interesting listen for understanding the development of Nu Metal. You take the disparate proggy-but-not-called-prog styles of Faith No More, Tool and Primus, you add the slow angsty Korn and Deftones debuts, the over-simple Prong and White Zombie mid periods after all the Thrash has left their sound, a tiny bit of Ministry hidden under tinges of Pantera, Machine Head and Black Album Metallica, balance with some of the Grunge bands and finish it off with a huge dollop of Rage Against The Machine on top.
Lean more into the Korn part, you get a Coal Chamber or Kitte, lean more on the White Zombie side and you get a Powerman 5000 or Spineshank, lean more on the Tool side and you get a Flaw or Cold, lean more on the Grunge side and you get a Puddle Of Mud or Adema.
Sometimes you watch a documentary about Metal and they try and explain the whole damn massive diverse genre on just ‘Walk This Way’ and ‘Bring The Noise.’ Bollox. Lazy bollox. Anyway, why am I talking about this?
I don’t know, I like looking at where it all comes from. What I was getting at, before that tangent was that, much like Prong’s Rude Awakening, I find Astro Creep 2000 interesting, but I don’t necessarily think its all that great. I don’t sit there wanting to listen to it over and over. I’d much rather spend my time listening to Savatage’s Edge Of Thorns or Handful Of Rain than to either of the aforementioned Prong and White Zombie records. Zack Steven’s has such a good voice, and Jon Oliva’s piano/key work is some of the best in all Metal.
Looking at my listening statistics, there’s been a huge upswing in Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots since I checked them all out here on the blog. I’ve gotten quite into them. I still like ‘Dead And Bloated’ a disproportionate amount to anything else the band have ever done though …what a fun song!
I’ve been trying out Pissing Razors a lot too. Some of their material is so perfect for me stylistically, its just a shame they miss that magic that makes Pantera, Fear Factory, Sepultura or Machine Head great, but the actual sound and style is exactly “a mix of them all.” You can riff by riff, beat by beat, vocal line by vocal line attribute each and every part of their albums to one of those bands. You sit there going “ooh, that’s ‘War Nerve’ and that’s ‘Self Bias Resistor,’ Oooh, cheeky bit of ‘Frontlines’ meets ‘Territory’ there.” etc.
Its great fun for my brain. Its just a shame none of their songs could individually be described as brilliant or classic or even memorable. I’d also like to point out the hypocrisy that I initially disliked Metropolis Scenes From A Memory for that exact situation. Despite “spot the influence” making the band worth listening to for me though, its not really enough to recommend them to others. They are just missing something. Never before was a band so massively missing in an x-factor despite having everything else down perfectly. Its just a shame none of their songs could individually be described as brilliant or classic or even memorable, because they have a formula to die for.
Kiss’ Monster and the 2009 effort Sonic Boom have been appearing a lot when I listen to my music on shuffle too. I still can’t get over how good Sonic Boom is. For an album so late in a band’s career, it has an incredible staying power and rarely ever gets old with repeat listening. Its such a strong and consistent record. Seriously, just have a listen to ‘Say Yeah’ or ‘When Lightning Strikes.’ Top stuff!
In a similar way, often when I’m listening to music on shuffle, songs from DragonForce’s Inhuman Rampage album will come on, and I find it a constant source of enjoyment. It is really rather surprising how consistently they bring a smile to my face, it really is a rather joyous sound that they have. For a band that sometimes get dismissed for unpaid dues and gimmickry, they do make top quality music that is every bit as good as the best material from more respectable bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Hammerfall, Sabaton, Iced Earth etc. If you are skeptical about them, but usually like Power Metal, I’d strongly urge you to give them a fair and honest chance.
On a similar note, from a completely different end of the musical spectrum, the more that I listen to Jurojin’s EP, the more I love it. It has been such a grower, and went from initially ok in my eyes, to absolutely fantastic. Each and every track on it is fantastic, from the catchier ‘The Scars’ to the more eclectic ‘Proem’ its all absolute gold. I highly recommend that you check it out.
So, that’s what I’ve been enjoying from my existing collection. What’s been tempting me to break my pledge not to buy anything until the end of the month?
Well, I’ve developed a strong, almost spontaneous interest in Fates Warning, Obituary, Blind Gaurdian and Death. Part of that is the want to write more First Impressions articles, and part of it is my usual want to know and own all the music that was ever made.
I also have a minor urge to buy about 15-20 Djent albums, as well as listen to Messugah, Sikth, Dillenger and the sorts of bands that helped influence the Djent scene. I’d like to piece together in my head where all the different parts are. You know, like I did with Nu Metal just now. I’d like to be able to do that with Djent, the same way I can with Thrash and Power and Death and Metalcore and whatever else.
I see that there is a boxset of Obituary albums, similar to the Life Of Agony boxset that I bought earlier this year. There’s also a King Diamond one I’d be tempted to buy, especially because I like their drummer Mickey Dee when he’s in Motorhead and Helloween, if I didn’t find King Diamond himself’s voice so hard to take in Mercyful Fate . I like the idea of checking out ‘Them’ and ‘Abigail’ but the idea of that voice puts me right off if I’m being perfectly honest.
I love those sort of 5-6 album boxsets though, I think they’re great. I wish Morbid Angel, Death and Fates Warning would put out one. I’ve got boxsets like that from ZZ Top, Foghat, Mountain, Faith No More, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Life Of Agony and a chunkier even better one with little vinyl replicas inside from Motorhead.
Dream Theater and Pantera also have them so I’d recommend picking one up if you are about to check out either of those bands. I’ve wanted the Dream Theater (and also Kansas) one for a while now. Maybe two whole years.They’ve recently put out a Blackfoot one, which I highly recommend, and there are a couple available for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Molly Hatchet have one too. You could get like 15 Southern Rock albums for about 30 quid.
If I was more impressed by either Ministry or Type O Negative, I’d pick up their boxsets. If you know you’re probably going to get them all anyway, a boxset is a good way to go about it. I’ve also got a three-album version from both Anathema and Prong. Its not as big a deal, but its still kind’ve cool. Anyway, I’m not here on behalf of the boxset makers as an advertiser, I just like value for money. So…back to the matter at hand.
I’ve been tempted to pick up more Batman and Spawn graphic novels, and I’m still keen to pick up a Judge Dredd one that’s actually any good. I’ve tried a lot of Dredd and all of it has been disappointing, I’m hoping one day to find where it starts being good. I really enjoyed all the Spawn that I got given for free. It was a bit silly that some issues were omitted for contractual/copyright reasons, and there was one or two issues that seemed a bit pointless, but overall I was impressed. I’ll admit the fact that it was visually strong helped. I’ve heard the 90s described as a visuals-led style over substance era, the hair metal of the comics industry, but I thought that Spawn did have enough depth, more or less. Ideally, having depth and gorgeous visuals would be standard. I’d like comics to be more like HBO. The sort of “you only need to see the HBO and you’ll know the show will be good” type thing.
I’d love a Dredd book that looks like Batman The Mad Monk and had a similar level of quality.
So. Comics in general. Nothing specific though. Nothing really burning. No significant threat to the challenge.
I feel slight urges on the videogame end of things sometimes, but my sheer lack of time, mental energy or inclination has seen me abstain from gaming almost the entire of the last three months, save for one half-hour session of Rage in about September. Until now, that is. I had a lot of time to kill this week, and decided to start playing Singularity, a game I’d wanted since it was still in development (I remember following it in Edge magazine and the like, when it was coming out). I had taken to the till to buy once, when I bought three PS3 games as a self-gifted graduation present from Uni back in 2010, only to have the cashier be unable to find the disc anywhere in the shop in an overlong and awkward four-six minute search. I speculate that an employee was “renting” games surreptitiously, and that the disc would be able to be found when he was finished with it a few days later and returned it to the shop. About two and three-quarters years after my first attempt to purchase Singularity, I finally bought it alongside Deus Ex (which I have never played yet) and Rage (which I have barely played yet) around last February, but have never actually touched it until this week.
I played a good three or four hours of it and am absolutely sold on it. It’s a really well made, well acted, well directed, fun, challenging Bioshock clone with a lot of personality and it steals just the right amount from Half Life 2 and Fallout 3 to make it pretty much a checklist of all the best things in its era. I really highly recommend it already, and that’s only three or four hours worth.
Now that my interest in gaming is slightly reawakened though, I would love to finally check out the latest Uncharted, Bioshock and God Of War titles. I really loved the first two entries in each of those series (or like, 5, in the case of God Of War) and would love to have the inclination, money and time to catch up with the new releases in each of them.
Not enough to break my challenge over though. Having the underused backlog of Dragon Age 1&2, Rage, Deus Ex and Singularity all squatting on my shelf shaming me with glances of resentment and accusation beaming at me each time I pass them by puts me off buying any more games. I hate the feeling of getting a videogame and not completing it. It feels like such a waste of money. I remember I got Warhammer Battlemarch for Christmas one year and it was too much for my computer at the time to handle, as well as too difficult for me to even get past the first few levels, and its always slightly bothered me that I haven’t finished it.
Handy enough that I don’t want to buy any when you think about it though, I’m broke enough without spending money there too.
I wonder how long until there’s a Netflix or Spotify for Games and for Comics. Will all intellectual property eventually be collected under one giant subscription service, (Mediasludge.Omnipotent.net/WEAREEVERYTHING), where you just have access to everything ever created and funds are directed to creators depending on how many viewers each piece of media gets.
It would be handy to get some sort of supercharged iPad 10 glued onto my forearm capable of showing me anything that anyone ever made, and only having to pay one company one bill for it all.
Hey, it makes sense to stick something like Clerks or Die Hard on Netflix after its already been out in the cinema, then on DVD and on TV loads of times and everything, but how does a new film make any money in a few years when most cinemas are closed down and no one buys DVDs anymore. Will they have to jack up the price of a subscription to accommodate for the actual expense of making and marketing a film? Or will there be way more advertising and product placement? Or will budgets shrink drastically? Or will nerdy bloggers stop asking questions?
I’m not going to listen to anything in this particular edition, partly because this entry has gone on too long already and no one would read anything, partly because I plan on writing a First Impressions about Death’s Symbolic later tonight anyway and partly because I’m sat in my parents house for Christmas listening to The Best Of The Proclaimers, which I’m happy to report sounds a lot like Babyshambles and The Fratellis. Mmmm. I enjoy finding out where things come from.
Take a bit of The Smiths, a bit of The Clash, a bit of The Beatles, a bit of The Proclaimers, a bit of ….OH NO HE’S AT IT AGAIN.
G’bye for now.