18 February 2012

Used But Not Used Up

Regardless of how you feel about piracy, SOPA, downloading, or any other shady means of acquiring a band's "intellectual property" or whatever, fans are always going to try to get albums they want as quickly and cheaply as possible. I'm sure that buying used albums seems like a completely different issue, but it's still somehow related to the whining and complaining that a lot of bands who have lost touch with their roots do these days.

I always have and always will buy used albums. It really has nothing to do with morals or legal philosophy. It's just cheaper. Economics may be a boat load of theories that we just made up, but that part of it makes sense. Several weeks ago, I bought a copy of Gamma Ray's Power Plant off the world's favorite website named after a Brazilian river, and when it arrived in the mailbox, I opened up the envelope pulled out the case and checked it out to make sure everything was in order. After all, no one wants to waste $7.00 on an album that they couldn't have even found in a store in his or her state (and if it was, it would have been a cool $20.00).

I slid the booklet out of the case, like I always do, and flipped through the pages. Everything seemed normal enough, a standard layout of lyrics and photos of the band members in ridiculous poses covered in blue with lightning on their faces. It was just your typical metal album booklet. However, the band members signatures started to look funny the more I looked at them. As it turns out, I had gotten a copy of Power Plant that had actually been autographed by the band at a festival or concert of some type. Each member had taken a black Sharpie to their respective photo and signed their name. Dirk Schl├Ąchter signed his name in black on the top black margin (thanks, chief). Dan Zimmermann and Kai Hansen kept it simple with just their name on their goofy-looking shirtless portraits. Guitarist Henjo Richter went magic-marker crazy with a "CHEERRZZ!.:)" before penning his name.

Henjo Richter: good with
a guitar, great with a marker.
Either way, if I had bought a new copy of this album in the shrink wrap, I never would have stumbled upon such an interesting piece of my metal album collection. Instead of just a killer album, I ended up with a killer album that had a booklet that was signed by the band. If you've never heard Gamma Ray's Power Plant, you need to find it and give it a listen. It's a excellent slab of German power metal goodness. Granted it's not the best in Teutonic power metal, but it's well worth procuring a copy. Who knows? You may even get an autographed one.

17 February 2012

Iron Maiden North American Tour 2012

Everyone's favorite band (everyone with an exquisite taste for metal, anyway), Iron Maiden, announced their plans for new tour of North America this summer. I will most definitely be making my second epic pilgrimage to witness what I believe is the best live show any metalhead could possibly want. Only this time, the journey won't be nearly as long, treacherous, or involved as the last.

I saw Maiden in the summer of 2010 at the hilariously named Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia. My wife and two friends trekked the 600+ miles to the greater metropolitan D.C. area in one day (the day before the show). If you've never made that trip, I highly recommend it. One does not simply walk into Washington. With no reservations or any real idea of exactly what we were doing, we found a hotel room on the southern outskirts of our lovely capital city around 11:00 that night.

We got up the next morning, ate a lousy hotel breakfast, bought train tickets, and went on a sightseeing rampage. We aimlessly walked roughly 9,000 miles around Arlington Cemetery and the National Mall before heading out to the concert. At least it was only 160 degrees outside that day. After suffering through entirely too much slow-crawling traffic and entirely too many imbecilic drivers, we pulled into a Chik-fil-a to grab dinner before heading out to the show. We decided to stay there and wait out a thunderstorm which had parked itself over Bristow. The result was missing out on the opening act, Dream Theater (who I had already seen several years prior), much to the chagrin of my wife. I wish I had the pictures to prove it, but her iPhone crapped out later that night at the other hotel we stumbled upon, which was somewhere in Virginia and absolutely crawling with satisfied Maiden fanatics that night.

Ultimately, Maiden took the stage that night and completely blew me away, giving me a concert experience that I'll never forget, and I can't wait to experience it again this summer. If you've never seen Iron Maiden and you live in North America, don't miss this opportunity. They aren't going to be around forever. I mean, they've only been doing this for over 30 years. Plus, you unquestionably have to see them to consider yourself a worthy metal warrior. However, seeing the opening band is optional, apparently.


You may be asking yourself, "What is this forthcoming blog about?" Honestly, I don't know really know how to explain it, but I know the answers. This is, to the best of my knowledge, what it's about and what it's not about. Enjoy.

Denim. Leather. Pointy guitars. Obscure bands. Live shows. Heavy Metal. Distortion pedals. Bullet belts. Dragons. Power Metal. Fire. Steel. Mithril. Glory. Honor. Galloping bass lines. Harmonized leads. Growls. Shrieks. Double-bass. Blastbeats. Spikes. Elves. Orcs. Dwarves. High-gain amplifiers. Mace. Axe. Sword. Warhammer. Runes. Tremolo-picking. Palm-mutes. Two-handed tapping. D-beats. Down-tuning. Dan Seagrave. Viking hordes. Pirates. Zombies. Orchestration. Indecipherable band logos. Magic. Technical musicianship. Spartacus. Band mascots. German rock. Trolls. Tolkien.

Metalcore. Mallcore. Emo. Screamo. Punk. Hardcore. Acoustic guitars. Singer-songwriters. Breakdowns. Tight jeans. Bluesy pentatonics. Jam bands.