Pre-Game – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

I’m getting everything set up to kick off my run through the Iron Maiden singles series. I’ll begin it next Thursday and it will run until its conclusion. Right now that appears to be sometime in June, though I expect the list will grow between now and then.

As it stands, everything I have in my collection is a vinyl single. There are some CD singles I want to get and as they aren’t expensive it will be the area I focus my collecting on the next few months so the list will grow a bit. This could run through the bulk of the summer if I get the ones I have my eye on. The vinyl list might grow some as well. And obviously I will revisit the list when I acquire new ones after I’ve made my initial run through.

This is by no means a complete collection of Iron Maiden singles. They have a bunch and there are a few that carry insane prices. My collection will never be complete, short of winning the lottery or finally getting that huge contract from a baseball team that I’ve been patiently waiting on for decades. But I’ve been able to gather a fair collection together and the Maiden stuff I have would be the absolute last I’d part with, only in an absolute catastrophe would I unload anything.

I am simply using the order these pop up on in Discogs sorted by year, so I don’t know if the exact release dates are in proper order. It’s not that big of a deal – everything will come out in the wash. Also I am including what would probably be considered EP’s here. Maiden only have a few released truly considered EP’s and I don’t see any point in keeping them out of what is a huge list anyway.

That’s about all for now, the series kicks off next Thursday. Until then, up the irons!

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free

Sanctuary

Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan

Purgatory

Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

From Here To Eternity

Out Of The Silent Planet

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

Disfear and Doomriders – All Paths Lead To Nothing, There Is Only Death

It’s that time of the week to dig into another offering from my singles collection. Today it’s the good old split single – two bands each offer a song, the vinyl gets pressed and here we are years later looking over the results. Split singles and even albums have been a consistent feature of the metal underground. I was never one to splurge on such things but I’ve wound up with a handful in my collection.

Today it’s a double dip into some very noisy territory – Swedish D-beat merchants Disfear are paired alongside American metal act Doomriders for this 2008/2009 split. Sometimes these split singles get their own “album” names and other times they don’t. In this case the single does have its own title completely separate from the two songs.

This isn’t necessarily an “unlikely” pairing but there is a common thread to tie these bands together – both groups recorded albums in this timeframe at GodCity Studios. GodCity is the brainchild of Kurt Ballou, who plays in Converge and has also produced a great deal of work at the studio. Ballou is also bandmates in Converge with Nate Newton, who is the head of the Doomriders project. (Note – the Disfear song on this release was recorded among themselves and not part of Disfear’s album at GodCity)

A lot of metal band trivia here, and more to come – but in reality there are only two songs to discuss here, so let’s have at it.

Disfear – Fear And Trembling

Disfear is an unsettling proposition, owing its sound to the crust punk and D-beat scene. It’s a very underground affair with English group Discharge as one of its primary pioneers. The music is very, very unsettling, noisy and not for the faint of heart.

Disfear themselves have a long history, though broken up in phases. They were around in the 1990’s but would go on hiatus and reform under a very different line-up in the early 2000’s. Two original members would remain and would be joined by Swedish death metal royalty – Entombed guitarist Ulf Cederlund and At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg helped Disfear into a new millennium.

Our song today is, as far as I can tell, exclusive to this release. It was not featured on their 2008 album Live The Storm and the band haven’t done any further releases so I suppose this single is the only place to get the song. As luck would have it, this split is still in print for anyone who stumbles upon this and just has to have it.

As I’ve said, this music is not for the weak of ear or constitution. It is a noisy mess. Even for the standards of Swedish death metal, Disfear makes those bands sound like orchestra music. Lyrically it is apparently a dissection of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s work of the same name. As lyrics and background info are hard to find for this song, I can’t source that claim, but I saw it in a YouTube comment so it’s probably true. And knowing how Tomas Lindberg likes to source such material, I would feel safe in the assumption.

Again, I’m pretty sure this is something most of my regular readers are not going to be into. This song is a headache in vinyl form. But this is my series of singles and well, here you are.

Doomriders – Crooked Path

Out to something still harsh and noisy but perhaps more conventional, we have New England’s metal/sludge outfit Doomriders. The group is the conception of Nate Newton, who is a member of the aforementioned Converge, as well as Old Man Gloom and presently Cave In.

When I first got this split, which was way back in ’09 when it released stateside, this was the song that pulled me in more. I was familiar with Disfear but not with Doomriders and this was a sound I was pretty well lacking at that time. It is gruff but also groovy and well performed. I was very much into stuff like High On Fire around this time and this was a worthy compliment to that.

Crooked Path did see release on an album – the Doomriders’ 2009 Darkness Comes Alive. This single that I purchased for the involvement of Disfear led me to the Doomriders and it’s been a fond listening relationship since.

That’s about all for this one. The single was packaged in somewhat unique fashion – instead of a slipsheet or cardboard holder, a massive poster is folded into the 7 inch sleeve. I wouldn’t dare unfold it because I’d spend the rest of my life trying to get it back in to the sleeve, but it’s a nice touch for a cheap, out of the way single. (Actually not, it’s really easy to open and put back together as it turns out…) Stay tuned next week for another oddity from my collection of 7 inch single horrors.

Back From The Dead? The CD re-examined

One thing I’ve meant to write more about but haven’t got to much of is the topic of collecting. Though the issue of collecting is not necessary to discuss music, it is an important part of music for me and many other people.

Music collecting looked to be going the way of the dinosaur roughly a decade ago as digital music and streaming took completely over. But just as the digital revolution seemed to be ready to deal physical formats a death blow, something happened – vinyl sales shot up. They shot up big and are still going strong today. In fact, the industry is plagued with delays and shortages. The secondary market has become a nightmare of price gouging and watching stuff that was once a dollar in the bargain bin go for $20 or more.

While vinyl saw a new life in the 2010s, one format that looked to be on the way out was the compact disc. The CD revolutionized music in the 1980’s and especially the 90’s. It bulldozed cassettes and vinyl records into near oblivion, then saw itself outmoded in the face of digital formats. People sold off their CD collections, the prices tanked, and stores tied to the format faced extinction.

2021 delivered a bit of favorable news for the CD – sales were up a bit over 1% for the year. This article from Pitchfork gives the stats breakdown – the CD moved 40.4 million units in 2021, up from 40.1 a year prior. Though not the biggest sales spike ever, this is the first year CD sales increased since 2004.

One wonders how much life the CD truly has in it. The sales spike was prompted by the two biggest names in music – Adele and Taylor Swift. A new Adele album will cause sales to soar, and Taylor is re-recording her music to escape unfavorable rights management of her old catalog.

Is this sales surge a flash in the pan or a sign of a shift back to the nearly-dead CD format? Adele doesn’t release new music that often and can’t prop up the music industry on her own. And Taylor will run out of back catalog to re-do at some point. Are there other sales drivers to sustain a renewed push for CD’s?

A fair portion of my disorganized CD collection

It is easy to write off the CD surge as a one-off event. After all, the CD format is outpaced by the convenience of streaming. While streaming is not generally of the same quality as a CD, it is obviously good enough for the masses. There doesn’t seem to be an indicator that people might move from streaming back to the CD.

Except, well, there are a few. The jump back to CDs might not have anything to do with streaming – it lies in the current state of vinyl.

Vinyl is in the midst of a huge renaissance right now. Sales are huge, record stores have opened across the land and collectors are gleefully shoving handfuls of cash off for the sweet new limited pressing of their favorite acts. It was an unlikely resurrection, fueled in no small part by the much-reviled hipster of the late 00’s and early 10’s.

But there are signs of trouble on the horizon. Right now vinyl is expensive and only growing in price, much like everything else these days. The secondary market is out of reach for most collectors of modest means. And manufacturing plants are backed up enough that some albums are getting their vinyl release almost a year after the same album dropped on CD and streaming. Major players like Adele hogging limited production resources only exacerbate the vinyl supply problem.

I know this shit is getting expensive

I don’t have statistical data in the same way we can track the rise in CD sales but I do have anecdotal evidence that some collectors are backing off vinyl and returning to the CD format. A little money goes a much longer way on CDs than on vinyl. Especially for back catalog collecting – imagine the amount of money someone would need to get, say, the Scorpions extensive catalog on record. Now have a look at used CD prices for the same band the next time you’re out. Much, much cheaper.

There is another issue looming – again anecdotal, but some independent and underground labels are having such fits getting vinyl pressed that they are considering abandoning the format. That might be a bit extreme but there is a realistic possibility that vinyl becomes a very niche and expensive high-end market while the masses may have to find content in CDs or streaming.

I don’t want to be a prophet of doom, except maybe when I’m plugging the doom genre, but it might be looking a bit hairy for vinyl. I’d guess it still has legs under it for awhile but the market forces do need some correction before a segment of the marketplace turns their backs on it. I don’t know if that will equal a new boom for CDs or not, or if this new advent of the format is just a glitch brought about by a few major artists releasing albums at once.

I do know that I and many others will maintain collections no matter what happens with the market at large, but the present and future states of affairs do shape and inform what we do. I hesitate to say that the CD is on the way back, even with some promising signs. The unfortunate part is that the most positive indicators for a CD revival are at the expense of the vinyl resurgence. Only time will tell.

No theme here, posting this just because