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Headbanging on the Dancefloor

Headbanging on the Dancefloor: Buying CDs in the Age of Streaming

Kevin Ashley debuts a new column for CMN.

Each week, CMN’s Kevin Ashley delves into the vast expanse of metal and electronic music, bringing recommendations, reviews, and news. Do not expect to find safe, chart-topping music here. Welcome to Headbanging on the Dance Floor.

First, I would like to talk about my recent purchases.

I try to buy physical CDs whenever possible, because first, they simply sound better than mp3 files, and second, it directly supports the artist if you buy from them directly. Digital services like iTunes take a substantial cut, which is not great for the artist.

One downside of CDs is that they can go out of print, increasing the price dramatically, but this can also affect digital services due to copyright. For instance, I could not purchase Dimension 5’s Second Phaze, Overkill’s Bloodletting, or Assemblage 23’s Addendum digitally, so I had to buy the CDs.

Besides those three, I have also received Eluveitie’s Helvetios — Celtic melodic death metal — and Mechina’s Compendium box set — limited to 1000 copies — as gifts. I will be reviewing Mechina’s albums in the near future, as the band has a very interesting sound, mixing symphonic movie score-esque melodies with cold industrial death metal.

Best of all, I received Judas Priest’s Firepower from Chipster PR – Judas Priest’s marketing firm – to review.

Second, I am looking forward to Perturbator and their 2019 North America tour, as I have seen them once at El Corazon, a local Seattle music venue. I have been to El Corazon many times, seeing metal bands Sabaton, Hammerfall, Nile, and Overkill, as well as industrial acts Front Line Assembly, Cubanate, and Assemblage 23.

Perturbator’s music is synthwave, an electronic genre which uses synthesizers to make instrumental and vocal tracks that sound like dance-y versions of 80’s movie scores — inspired by John Carpenter and the like. Two standout tracks are “Retrogenesis” and “Sentient”.

Finally, here are a few thoughts of one of my favorite synthwave tracks, “Neon Rain” by Paradise Walk: Starting off with some lush synth pads, it begins with a piano-esque melody, adding an electric guitar riff and Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight”-style snare to complete the atmosphere. Crooning vocals — an uncommon occurrence in synthwave — soon appear.

The guitar and synths coincide rhythmically with the vocals, but the real treat is at 2:30. An absolutely gorgeous saxophone solo runs for a whole minute, taking up a fourth of the song’s runtime. The song then fades out into the piano melody, while the saxophone cries mournfully in the background.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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