Record Store Day goes metal

Tomorrow is one of my favorite holidays. That’s partially because I’m a giant dork. Or maybe entirely because I’m a giant dork.

It’s Record Store Day here in the United States, and with it comes a large smattering of special releases, limited-edition stuff, and early releases designed to celebrate record stores and get people inside them to hopefully help consumers remember the joy of going into a cool little space and walking out with music. Some of us don’t need special days such as these to do this. No exaggeration, I go to a record store just about every week. I don’t always walk out with something, but usually I do. My favorite local shops here in Pittsburgh are Eide’s Entertainment and Paul’s CDs. Eide’s, located in the Strip District, houses CDs (they have a CRUSHING metal section), vinyl, comic books and toys, and you can spend hours in there. Also, the kid who runs the desk, whose name I really should learn, usually is playing Megadeth, Metallica or Iron Maiden, and it’s always the early stuff. Always fun to hear that. Paul’s, located in Bloomfield, is a bit more for people with indie rock taste, which I happen to have. The shop is mostly CDs, but they have a nice helping of vinyl too. Not much metal there, but they do carry a lot of Southern Lord and Hydra Head titles, and their staff is incredibly friendly. Links to both shops below.

For Edie’s, go here: http://www.eides.com/

For Paul’s, go here: http://www.myspace.com/paulscds

Anyhow, the event helps independently owned record stores have a day on which to highlight themselves. And really, with big-box stores having entered the market, done their damage, and pretty much gotten out, it’s time for us to embrace these places again. Hitting record shops is one of my favorite weekend activities, and I’m lucky to have a wife who likes this as well (though she’s more a Paul’s girl than Eide’s, though she always gets excited to see their display of Futurama action figures). Tomorrow, we both have our wish lists, and even if we don’t return home with exactly what we set out to buy, we’ll certainly buy something. I’m getting pumped just thinking about it, and I have a badly sprained foot/ankle that’s going to hinder my movement a bit.

If all of this excites you too, know that there are plenty of quality metal-related wares coming your way on Record Store Day. I’m not going to cover them all, but I did pick a few to bring to your attention. Maybe these won’t excite you, but the list of everything coming out is below, so feel free to peruse and see if anything is going to demand your money. My guess is you’ll find something. There also are some releases that are limited to specific regions, and one of my wish list items – Discordance Axis’ “The Inalienable Dreamless” on vinyl — is one, so I am out of luck as Philly, not Pittsburgh, will have access. But it’s cool. I’ll find something else. Maybe you’ll like these:

Between the Buried and Me already released “The Parallax: The Hypersleep Dialogs” on CD, and it’s a refreshing return to form for the band that went a little off track on their final Victory release. This, however, is the vinyl version of this effort that’s the first of a two-part series. The band is now on Metal Blade, which makes way more sense for BTBAM, and this would be worth checking out on the turntable. I have a review of this in the next issue of Outburn, so I don’t want to go into too great of detail here. That’s kind of a bad sentence, huh? Anyway, if you were into this North Carolina prog-death band’s earlier work, you’ll like the music on this one. If you got into their headier, bizarre, Pink Floyd-like conceptual lyrics on their later work, then you find plenty on which to chew. Wait, don’t chew on the record. Bad for the teeth.

I always feel bad for the Deftones artistically, because they happen to rise to prominence in the pitiful age of Korn and fucking Limp Bizkit and shit (notice I didn’t bold those band names). OK, and they also kind of dressed the part at times. But Deftones are an awesome band, and anyone who can tell me “White Pony” isn’t one of the best rock-oriented albums of the past couple decades does not know what he/she is talking about. Tragedy recently struck the band in 2008 when longtime bass player Chi Cheng was critically injured in an automobile accident, and he remains hospitalized with brain injuries. But the band carried on, hoping one day Cheng could recover and rejoin them. They put out last year’s strong “Diamond Eyes,” and tomorrow they give us “Covers.” It sounds exactly like what it is, a vinyl release of their versions of songs from artists as diverse as The Cars, Drive Like Jehu, The Cure, The Cardigans, and Sade. Yes, Sade.  As bizarre as some of this sounds, my guess is it’ll be a very worthy purchase.

Mastodon have a couple of things coming your way. First is a vinyl version of their recently released concert album “Live at the Aragon.” I posted a link to my review a couple of weeks ago, so you can find that on the site if you do a search. Most of the setlist from the 2009 Chicago show is centered on their “Crack the Skye” album, which they play in its entirety (some older gems are tacked on at the end, as to not ignore us Mastodon lifers). I guess your interest will depend on how you feel about the album. But in addition, they’re also putting out a 7-inch of “Just Got Paid,” a song they performed alongside the track’s originator ZZ Top. Pretty weird, right? The song originally appeared on ZZ Top’s 1972 record “Rio Grande Mud,” which came out two years before I was born. Yay! They were a way different-sounding band than the one that found fame in the 1980s, and Mastodon and the Top kill the song on here.

When I was a kid, Ozzy Osbourne scared the holy hell out of me. There was the biting-the-bat-head incident, the scary videos, the weird image, him transforming into a werewolf in the “Bark at the Moon” clip. Now he’s as scary as a Sesame Street character, having been made a commercial buffoon by his wife Sha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aron. But at one time, he was as vital and exciting a metal artist as there was, having left his post fronting Black Sabbath and heading into his solo jaunt. Tomorrow you can get your hands on vinyl re-mastered, re-released versions of 1980 debut “Blizzard of Oz” and 1981’s “Diary of a Madman,” records the Catholic school I attended as a kid repeatedly told me would be my ticket to hell if I ever so much as desired to hear. How silly. The CD versions aren’t out until May 31, and if you’ve got a turntable, it’s worth having these, even if just for history’s sake. “Blizzard” has classics such as “I Don’t Know,” “Crazy Train,” “Suicide Solution” and “Mr. Crowley,” while “Diary” boasts “Over the Mountain,” “Flying High Again” and the title cut. This also was the final album featuring guitar legends Randy Rhoads, who died in a plane accident in 1982. No matter how you feel about Ozzy now (I can barely say his name), these are incredibly, legendary records that prove to any naysayer just how great a metal force this man once was creatively.

Clearly, there’s a lot more coming out. Some other highlights include: Dio’s “Killing the Dragon” picture disc; Job for a Cowboy’s three vinyl 10-inch “Ruination” releases; a 10-inch of Machine Head’s ultra-dense, powerfully heavy “The Black Procession”; a 7-inch release from hardcore punk icons OFF! Called “Live at Generation Records”; Opeth’s 7-inch release of “The Throat of Winter”; a special edition of Decibel magazine (just got my June 2011 issue in the mail today) featuring Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth and some download content;  as well as the aforementioned Discordance Axis and Neurosis limited-availability vinyl. If you want to jump the gun, you can get whatever Hydra Head Record Store Day stuff you want at their web shop, located at http://www.bluecollardistro.com/hydrahead/categories.php?cPath=4

For the entire list of stuff available tomorrow, go here: http://www.recordstoreday.com/SpecialReleases

To read about Record Store Day’s history, go here: http://www.recordstoreday.com/CustomPage/614

Oh, and if you want to know where you can spot Hipster Mer-Man during tomorrow’s festivities, here’s a hint: http://hipstermerman.tumblr.com/post/4635237276