Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scrape Records Huge-Ass Sale, plus Amon Amarth's new album

I kinda came out of my metal phase, if you were wondering. It peaked around 2009; this blog has plenty of evidence of it. I needed to spend some time in metal, to get the lay of the land; I had ignored the genre for too long, following a tribal punk pique of my youth, because the headbangers were our enemies back then, the very people who would beat us up when they should have been seeking kinship... which they eventually did, but I never really crossed over, holding a grudge well into my 40's. I'm glad I finally got over it: I've seen a few fantastic shows, fallen in love with a lot of bands, reclaimed a lot of music that I got rid of as a teen (even Priest and Maiden!), and, along the way, learned a lot about what I like and don't like, buying and then selling a bunch of CDs in the process... hard to believe I felt like I needed a dozen Cannibal Corpse albums at one point (tho' I have hung on to two or three).
...FYI, in terms of where my head is at, metal-wise, I really like the new Amon Amarth album, Jomsviking, lately; it's tuneful and melodic and anthemic in all the right places, compared to Deceiver of the Gods, which sounded great - beautifully produced and played - but was kind of lacking, songwise, I thought; none of it infected me the way the best songs on Twilight of the Thunder God and Surtur Rising had. They've punched up the melodies even more on the new album, made this real fist-in-the-air, crowd pleasing stuff, which I have no objection to whatsoever (tho' it makes me curious what goes on backstage in the band, since there's something a bit bipolar manifesting itself here, swinging first away from, and then back towards, writing catchy tunes). It's a bit sad, I guess, that they've - temporarily, I presume - given up singing about Norse mythology in favour of songs inspired by Viking life - songs about killing your first man, about being out on the ocean, about drinking from Viking horn goblets - but that's only because I really like the Norse myth approach. Jomsviking, even if the angle is a bit different, is still very much in keeping with what they've always done, apparently even has a uniting narrative to it (which is not always hard to piece together without a lyric sheet, though Hegg's English has come a long way in a short time; even on Twilight, there's a bunch of stuff where his phrasing is definitely a bit ESL, but he's become completely proficient, from what I can make out of the lyrics). May just go see this gig, if there are tickets. Official site here, and read my interview with former drummer Fredrik Andersson here. (I am unclear if new drummer Tobias Gustafsson plays all or only some of the drums on this album, so I can't really evaluate, but it all sounds like Amon Amarth, in any case).

Anyhow, even tho' I'm not really buying metal in any quantity these days - even tho' I've mostly stepped away - I'm sad that Scrape Records has been in the process of shutting down these last couple of months. I like JJ, the proprietor, and while his vinyl is sometimes on the pricy side, he has an amazing selection of really cool records, can be counted on to have stuff in stock that no one else has. (His CD selection is great, too, and much cheaper). It's very seldom that I go to Scrape looking for something and they don't have it; they sometimes have it at a price I don't want to pay, because I'm kinda cheap, but they usually have it, usually in vinyl, often in some impressive-lookin' European import edition, sometimes (if it's really cool) in two or three different variants. Last I heard he had not found a buyer for the store, don't know if that has changed. But it seems like the end of March will be the last stand, with a Huge-Ass Sale announced on Facebook. JJ has said that his final day would be February 27th, so I'm not sure if he's even still involved with the store, but I want to tip my hat to him no less for being an affable guide to the metal world, as I've poked around, and for maintaining such a cool stock.

If I tried really hard, I could probably think of some records to buy off him, but boy am I broke right now. I might try a little regardless. Bet he still has picture discs of Surtur Rising... Hmmm....

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