Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Five things in metal that I am thankful for

This is the fifth year I have done this feature and it's always fun to think about the top bands, labels, services or whatever that I am most thankful for from this past year. So here you go in no particular order.

Metal Mind Productions- This record label has been so consistent that they have made this list every year I have done it. They always manage to put out some great re-issues and this year was no exception as we were treated to re-issues from Mad Max, Blind Illusion, Quartz, Fist and others. Many included lyric booklets, some with band biographies and several contained bonus tracks as well.

Ratt-Certainly not a band I thought would end up on this list. Their last album the 1999 s/t reunion album was wretched so my hopes for "Infestation" were not high. I was wrong and Ratt came back with not just a good album, but one of the best hard rock albums of the year and one of the best of their career. I am thankful to them for proving that a veteran act can still make a fine record.

Canvas Solaris-Progressive metal is not exactly my favorite sub-genre of metal. Many bands is this field tend to be self-indulgent and frequently turn into giant wank fests as they to squeeze as many notes and beats possible into their music with complete disregard for emotion or spirit. However Georgia based instrumental prog-rock/metal act Canvas Solaris no better and they have been proving it for several years. Only they have also gotten even better with each release. This is a skilled prog band that hasn't forgotten how to rock plus be able to inject feeling and grooves into their music.

Self-produced metal acts-This is a broad choice, but an important one. Twenty or twenty-five years ago getting signed by a label was perhaps more important for bands. If they couldn't get signed by a major or an indie major label then they had to go the self-produced route which frequently didn't lead anywhere because they could make the album, but distribution for a self-produced release often meant they could only hit a small area. Years ago is seemed that only major label metal bands could get greater production values on their albums. Nowadays if bands can't get signed they produce their own product. It's easier to get great production nowadays thanks to technology so self-produced albums can sound great too. Also outlets like Myspace and Facebook allow bands to promote their product to a broader range of people and MP3s and downloads can allow fans to hear their music right aways. So their are many factors that go into helping bands that produce their own music, but I still applaud these bands for going this route and showing that the music business is always all about the big record labels.

Downloadable music-Another broad choice, but an important one and it ties in with the above choice. There are benefits to the physical product like artwork, but on the other hand downloading music can be done right, it doesn't take up space on your shelf unless you choose to put it on disc. Also it allows bands to get their music out to people in a manner that doesn't require as much money. An up and coming band can record and put their songs on Myspace and not have to go through the process of packaging and distributing a demo. Also labels and PR people can save some money on postage and packaging by sending downloads rather than mailing out physical copies. In tight times like these saving money where you can helps a lot. So if that's what it takes to keep music alive and available then I am all for it.

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