Tips for Thrashers: Getting the Most Out of Metal
Metal music represents one face of a complex underground culture in which information is distributed through an informal system of human connections. For this reason finding how to locate, compare and purchase metal is highly difficult.
Here the Dark Legions Archive staff have compiled a few ideas on how to enjoy metal and locate it, including methods for using the resources we've put together on this site. We hope they introduce you to one of the last honest subcultures on the planet so you too can learn to appreciate it for its uniqueness and power of articulation.
Metal Appreciation, Ph.D.
Understanding how to enjoy music is part of learning why one would listen to music. On one level, we live in a modern society which generates an excess of sound from commercials, muzak atmospheres, endless sales pitches and product-music which spreads the same message of complacence and musical inertia without altering the fundamentals behind its ever-shifting cosmetic of sound. On another, however, thinkers and musicians worldwide are producing exploratory and complex music profoundly relevant to current culture, thought, and everyday existence - in metal music.
The first and best piece of advice one can give to an aspiring metalhead is: never lose sight of the music, itself. The guitar may sound a certain way, the vocals may sound better or worse, and you may be able to hear different instruments with varying degrees of accuracy - but, in all but the worst cases, you will be able to hear with veracity the tones and rhythms used to create the music itself - the abstract construction which is the understanding of music and life spoken in the language of metal as specific to the artist, genre, and song.
It's easy to be fooled by production, or to judge a CD on the basis of the cover, the pictures, the band's nationality, the "sound" of the instruments, the degree of clarity, the addition of instruments such as female vocals or clarinets, etc. However this misses out on the factor that actually distinguishes one CD from another, which is the musical understanding it conveys.
Comprehending this communication takes some practice but is as familiar to you as breathing - picture the world as a giant network of computers, each connected through various languages and physical needs. Our network is full of spoofing and dishonest behavior, however, so we find ways around communication which explicitly states what it is telling you - the more subliminal methods of music and art communicate through mood, emotion and abstract structures, leaving no room for forgery.
99% of the people listening to any given CD have no idea why they'd really like it - if they do understand it, more often than not it is not at a conscious level they can recognize. However, if you learn to perceive the action in the music, you can realize why you would like one band over another and through that come to appreciate the understanding behind metal's many ways.
Where Can I Get This Stuff?
As the model of music production in the commercial world shifted from centralized distribution by a select few massive producers to a system of smaller specialized labels owned by massive centralized producers, metal once again bucked a trend and perfected the ultimate anti-corporate entity: the micro-label. Living shorter lives and vanishing in an ink-squirt of misfiled paperwork as quickly as they appeared, these tiny often one-person operations flare into being to release a handful of albums and then disappear into the ether.
While this is a frustrating model to work with as a purchasing fan, it provides protection from corporate heavyweight tactics such as outright purchase, legal attack and artist snatching. To make sense of this system however metalheads worldwide innovated a system of Mailorder distribution companies, who represent more legal "legitimacy" (as if anything is legitimate in a system of slavery to the almighty dollar and murder in the name of moral righteousness) than micro-labels and distribute bands from a range of producers, from large labels to independent artists.
Finding local stores is a harder bet, since keeping track of the different releases and proliferation of micro-labels is something only a metal speciality store would do. Find those in our Stores listing. Chances are, you won't find one - so consider the genius of mail order with the following tips:
You're using an Internet browser, right? (Or you have friends who have not only that but a printer.) The net can be a valuable tool for you.
Many of the Mail order and Metal labels listed on this site also feature web pgaes; using these, you can find a more current readout of what's in stock and what's new to that source. This makes ordering a snap!
Not only that, there is an informal marketplace in the newsgroups alt.rock-n-roll.metal.death and rec.music.marketplace in which you can either sell or buy music from others. Once again, a shoppinglist of tips:
That's about all we can tell you right now - happy metal hunting!
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