Thursday, December 31, 2020

Records In 2020: A Truth We Still Believe

To say that 2020 was a weird year would be a fucking understatement. While I fully understand the impact to people's lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and acknowledge that some people struggled hard during these times... for myself, the quarantine life was a nice change of pace. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, and during a year of serious political turmoil with a full-on Trumpster fire in the White House, I was quite content to not be around people.
When all was said and done, I added 191 new records to the collection these past twelve months. I came out strong with 19 posts last January, and while I continually had a backlog of records to post up on this blog, I don't think that I ever really fell into a hole like previous years. December is usually a mad scramble to get things posted up here, but this year, I didn't have that same problem. Let's see if I can keep this consistency going in 2021.
I was all over the map with what I was chasing this past year. Don't get me wrong, it was a ton of fun being totally random, but looking back at those twelve months, I'm not sure that I really accomplished much when it came to adding some crucial classics to my collection. I loved chasing those Japanese singles for MTV hits, but it probably kept me from focusing on something more important. Either way, I picked up some cool shit, so here are five of my favorites.

1. One King Down 'Bloodlust Revenge' first press - Holy shit. This One King Down record may have been my favorite thing that I listened to all year. I've always liked Bloodlust Revenge, but I hadn't really listened to it for a number of years. I gave it a casual spin earlier this year, and it hit me hard. I listened to it again and again and again, and was very happy to pick up the first press on colored vinyl.

2. Vantage Point 'An Answer You Won't Find' record release - The Vantage Point record release was the last show that I went to in 2020. It had been a long time since I'd gotten myself out the door and on the road to a hardcore show. I've come to really hate driving and parking in Boston, so I've missed out on a ton of shows over the last five years or so. It felt great to be back in a small room and watching live bands play again while kids jumped all over each other. Fuck. I'd missed this. Every band playing that show was great, and I committed myself to getting out more often...and then COVID shut everything down. Buying this record release cover felt special.

3. AC/DC 'High Voltage' Aussie first press - I was able to grab a few really cool AC/DC records this past year, but an Australian first press of their first record felt like a real accomplishment. Adding this one to the collection means that I now have the first four AC/DC albums covered.

4. Foundation record release and tour press - I don't really consider myself a collector of Foundation records, and yet I keep finding myself buying them now and then. The two that I picked up this year were grabbed on a whim, and when they arrived I was in awe over how fucking cool they looked.

5. Scorpions Japanese pressings - I obsessed over Japanese pressings this year, and picking up three Scorpions records with the OBI felt pretty cool. I had always been content with Scorpions records that were cheap and common, but these Japanese pressings changed my outlook on collecting this band. I definitely want more, and hope to grab a few more in 2021.

Back in 2019, my desire to search out newer hardcore bands was reignited, and I chased that feeling all through 2020. While not as strong as the previous year, 2020 still delivered some great hardcore records. The new Ecostrike easily took the top spot in my Top 10, and I couldn't get enough of their 90's straight edge hardcore vibe. I probably listened to the new As Friends Rust more than anything, but with only two songs, I could only go as high as the number two spot...I really hope the band has more to give. Surprises of the year go to Chubby & The Gang as well as the new Higher Power record...both of them kept getting better and better with each listen. Add in a few other hardcore gems, and it wasn't a bad year at all.
Thing were pretty cool with metal bands as well. Nothing was going to beat the new Testament record this year and I still get a charge listening to it. Blood Star came out of nowhere and were one of the few surprises...even their digital EP with Dokken and Uriah Heep covers was a blast...I can't wait for their full length in 2021. Considering that I never bothered with the last Midnight album, I was surprised with how much I liked this new one. Even older bands like AC/DC, Cirith Ungol and Deep Purple still manage to keep things exciting for me. Solid stuff.

For a fucked up year, finding new bands and checking out new records brought a bit of normalcy to everything. Who knows where things will go for 2021, but whatever happens, I'll still be here talking to myself. If anyone else is still listening, I consider it a bonus, and I thank you for hanging out and following along with this nonsense.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Don't Sleep With Revelation

It has been a long time since I've been interested in a Dave Smalley band. When I was fresh into hardcore during the early 90's, I loved the triple D's...I'm talking about DYS, Dag Nasty and Down By Law, you pervert! Eventually, the Down By Law records started to lose their punch and I stopped paying attention...and there is no need to speak of that DYS reunion song. When Smalley got a new band together with Don't Sleep and released an EP a few years ago, I wasn't interested and stayed away. I'm not sure what sparked my interest when I saw that the band released a new album in 2020, but I must have been caught on a off day from being old and jaded, and I give the songs a spin on Spotify. Not bad...not bad at all. Surprisingly I was kind of digging some of the album, but I still wasn't sure if I wanted to fork over the money for the vinyl.
When I saw that Marcus posted about the album a few weeks ago, I decided to revisit it and see if it really interested me or if my initial reaction was just a passing whim. Damn, some of these songs are too much fun to ignore, and I've got to move and sing along. I gave the album a few more spins and then finally decided to grab a copy before the end of the year.
I ended up grabbing a copy from the REVHQ store on Discogs. They had listed it with a cheap price because of a "crushed corner". I exchanged a couple messages with them and determined that it really wasn't that badly damaged, so I bought it. REV had it listed as the yellow vinyl which was a REVHQ exclusive, but when it arrived, the vinyl is definitely more orange than yellow. Is it really the "canary yellow and red apple" pressing and they listed it wrong, or is it some transition color that REV is famous for with their greens and greys? I honestly have no idea, but it is still a fun record, so I'm happy to have one.

Sunday, December 27, 2020


At some point last year, someone recommended that I check out Mil-Spec. I listened to two songs, shrugged my shoulders and moved on. It didn't do anything for me, but to be honest, I didn't like the band name, so I had already written them off before I'd even started to play that first song. When the band was due to release a full length album this year, I decided that maybe it was time to give them a chance with a more open mind.
This record clicked with me right away. I'm obviously going to have to go back and check out the songs from the 7 inch again, because this album is really good. Of course I was a little slow to check out this record, so by the time I went to buy a copy, there was only black vinyl left. That wasn't going to cut it for me, and I figured that I'd playing the waiting game over on Discogs and pay a stupid price for the cream colored vinyl. Therefore, I was thankful when Marcus gave me the heads up that Lockin' Out had added a few more copies of the colored vinyl to their webstore, and I didn't hesitate to grab one.
327 pressed on cream colored vinyl.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Nights Of The Dead

One of the last big concerts that I went to, before Covid shut everything down, was Iron Maiden's Legacy Of The Beast tour. That show was so much fun. The setlist was fantastic and the stageshow was amazing. Damn. I miss shows. We are talking about Iron Maiden, so of course they released a live album to document the tour.
Honestly, I'm not sure that we needed another live Maiden album...I think this is number nine in their discography... but since I had such a great time seeing this tour live in Massachusetts last year, of course I was excited to pick up the album release... and really... it's Iron Maiden, so I was obviously going to buy it. I'm not a fan of the Eddie cover artwork, but I can't say enough good things about the packaging for this live album.
The thing that made this tour so special was the track listing. To hear some deep tracks... like The Clansman, Sign Of The Cross, and For The Greater Good Of God... as well as some older classics that haven't been in the setlist for a long time... like Flight Of Icarus, Where Eagles Dare and Revelations... this setlist was entertaining as hell.
The live photos on the inside of the triple gatefold look great.
Got to have all the tour dates listed so that I can find the one show that I went to.
The dust sleeves show the three themes that Maiden used for this tour, War, Religion and Hell. Each theme had songs that fit the subject matter and with a stage set that matched. Each theme gets its own slab of colored vinyl and the dust sleeve has cool writing about the songs and what was happing on stage at the time. These details take the packaging here to the next level. Quality.
Goddamn you, Iron Maiden, for forcing me to buy from Walmart.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Triple B Speedway

Triple B was huge for me in 2019. I was introduced to so many great bands through that label last year, but as we started to close out 2020, I felt like they really fell short compared to the year before. Sure, they released a couple of great records this year, but overall, there was a bunch of stuff from them that I just didn't care about. Still, I try to check out most of what they release to see if it catches my attention, and when I was in their webstore recently, wringing my hands over if I should buy a couple of repressings, I saw the Speedway record and I decided to check out the songs.
Triple B lists Speedway as "premier Swedish hardcore". I wasn't sure what made them "premier", but I figured that I'd check them out. Initially I thought the songs were okay...not great, but still good enough that I threw the 7 inch in my cart when I was picking up some other records from the label. But the more I sit with these songs, the more I dig them...and the video for Endless Stride really made me sit up and pay attention. I don't know...there is just something about young bands that play hardcore with passion...that shit still moves me.
I was way too late to get the limited pressing, but Triple B still had the purple vinyl in stock, so I grabbed that one. 400 pressed.
Triple B was running a special over Black Friday where all orders get a free flexi of the latest Mindforce song, Reign Of Terror. Flexis are kind of dumb, but this song is great, so I was glad to pick one up.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Virtual XI Japan Tour

Iron Maiden have a ridiculous amount of live albums, and yet I still find myself chasing the occasional bootleg because, apparently I need more of them. I've been seeing a few live bootlegs posted on Instagram recently, and it has really fueled my need to acquire another one. When I saw something from Maiden show up in the Hells Headbangers webstore, I jumped on it.
While Iron Maiden might have around nine live albums, there has been nothing officially released for the Blaze Bayley years. Those five years of the band's history were a dark time, and some fans can't hang with the Blaze albums. I happen to love the raw and dark feel of them, so when I saw Hells Headbangers was carrying a live bootleg from the '98 Virtual XI Japan tour, I was excited to get my hands on it.
I've heard countless times about how weak Blaze Bayley was singing live for Maiden, so I was curious to hear how painful this live set was going to sound. Well, fuck all that because this shit is great. The setlist contains eight songs from the Blaze albums, so it is really cool to hear those songs live, and while I thought that Blaze might be a bit shaky on some of the Dickinson-era songs like Heaven Can Wait, he does the job well.
I love that Maiden haven't completely disowned those two Blaze albums, and will occasionally bring a Blaze song into their current setlist, but man, this full live album from '98 is a real treat to hear.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Dream Evil RSD

A couple years ago, the Dio camp started releasing a picture disc single for each Record Store Day. At this point, I was four singles deep, so when it was announced that the fifth in the series was going to be released for the Black Friday RSD, I knew that I was going to have to chase it down.
Not wanting to deal with any crowds, or end up waiting outside if the store was over capacity, I casually did a drive-by of the store on the afternoon Black Friday. It looked quiet, so I pulled in to check it out. No lines...I was in and out in less than five minutes, and the latest Dio single, Dream Evil, was mine.
Like the other Dio picture disc singles, this isn't giving us any wild unheard tracks. All we get here are two live tracks from Donington '87, which coincidently was the same show the Metallica songs were taken from for their recent 7 inch that I posted the other day. Funny how that worked out...completely unplanned.
I really wish that they would stop using this "first time on vinyl" bullshit. These two songs have been released know, on the Dio At Donington album that was released in 2011. I'm going to buy this stupid single anyway, so you don't need to try and suck me in with some marketing scam.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

For Whom The Vinyl Club Tolls

At the start of 2020, Metallica made an announcement that they were rolling out a subscription vinyl club. This subscription will include four 7 inch records, exclusive to members that have signed up, and were scheduled to ship throughout the year. Then COVID hit and it all went to hell. There were numerous delays at the pressing plant, and then the postal system compounded those issues causing tons of stress as invalid tracking numbers were emailed out, and then records continued to sit at their warehouse and sporadically ship out. Some people started to receive their first record by the middle of October, while mine didn't arrive until late in November. What a shit show.
Once the record arrived, all the stress and frustration melted away and it was all worth it. Two songs, For Whom The Bell Tolls and Leper Messiah, recorded live at Doningon from '87. This record is amazing. Say what you want about Metallica, but they certainly have delivered quality when it came to this record subscription. The record cover is made of a nice thick stock with some great artwork, and even the dust sleeve is nice and sturdy and covered in some amazing live photos.
The package even comes with a little poster of the band from the day of the Donington fest.
Each record is numbered, which is both kind of pointless and cool at the same time. It would be nice if they can keep the numbers the same for each release, but I imagine that would be difficult to manage, so it probably isn't the case. Also included in this first package is my membership card that has my name printed on the backside. Great package, and I'm looking forward to the second one in the series!

Monday, December 14, 2020


I was pretty sure that we had seen the last of AC/DC when the Rock Or Bust tour came to a end in a ball of flames in 2016. Malcolm Young was already out of the band with dementia, and then Brian Johnson had to quit mid-tour with hearing issues. Oddly enough the band got Axl Rose to step in as the vocalist to finish the tour, but then Phil Rudd hired a contract killer and got busted for meth, so they had to get Simon Wright to jump in on drums, and by the end of the tour Cliff Williams was like "fuck this" and he quit too, leaving Angus as the last man standing. Honestly, I didn't expect them to come back after that. When rumors started flying around about a new AC/DC record in 2020, I was a bit skeptical.
Not only are AC/DC back, but holy fuck, they come back with an album that leaves me awe struck. Power Up is the band's sixteenth album (well, seventeenth if you are counting from their Australian catalog), and it is really fucking good. I'm not sure if it is because my expectations were low, but Angus pulled Brian, Phil, Cliff, and cousin Stevie back for an impressive showing. The more I listen to this record, the more I dig it. I don't know if it matches the hype that people keep throwing around, like "it harkens back to Flick Of The Switch", but if this is the album that AC/DC go out on, it is an exclaimation point to a solid fucking run.
Solid yellow vinyl was only available in the US AC/DC webstore.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Black Ice

With AC/DC releasing a new album this year, I've been kind of excited about the band and thinking a bit about where my record collection stands for them. I've crossed off a few big ticket items for them this past year, but before the album landed on my turntable, I wanted to make one more move.
When AC/DC released Black Ice back in 2008, I remember barely giving it any attention. The album was almost an hour long, and at the time it just felt like it was too much. I listened to it one time that year, proclaimed it wasn't memorable, and I shelved it. Yeah, no shit, one listen isn't going to get the album to stick with you, dipshit. Sure, for a while I'd pull the CD out once every couple of months, but I never really spent much time with it. Oddly enough, when Rock Or Bust was released in 2014, I loved that album immediately.

Feeling in the mood for some of that latter era AC/DC, I've been revisiting those albums to prepare for the new record, and I was surprised with how much I found myself enjoying Black Ice. Thankfully, you can still pick up the vinyl for a decent price, and looking to expand the collection, I grabbed a copy off Discogs.

It is hard as hell to get a good photo, but the black on black spot finishing looks amazing...along with the red and black printed dust sleeves, I love the packaging of this record.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Certain Death

I heard the name Dead Heat thrown around a bit last year, but I never paid it much attention. They were on a split 7 inch with Mindforce, but since they weren't Mindforce, I never really give thier songs a chance. When they released their album last year, I took one look at the album cover and immediately passed on it. That shit looked terrible.
At some point, one of their songs ended up popping up in some random Spotify playlist, and as I was getting ready to hit the button to skip it, the song kind of caught my attention. It wasn't the shitty metal sound that I was expecting...instead I found it had more of a crossover style and reminded me of Suicidal Tendencies Join The Army record. Now this was a style that I could get behind, and I immediately queued up the full album to really check it out. Within seconds, I was hooked and it had me thinking of those early Take Offense records. I knew that I needed the vinyl.
I was late to the party, so of course the first pressing was sold out. Edgewood Records had the second pressing available, but I was able to find a first press still available on Discogs...and at a cheaper price.

The blue and silver split is limited to 200.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Grinning Like An Undertaker

Accept reunited back in 2010 and with their new singer, the band went on an impressive four album stretch. Each one was a great slab of metal, but by the time The Rise Of Chaos when it was released in 2017, the band's formula was getting a bit stale. That last album wasn't terrible by any stretch, but I found that I just didn't return to it very often like I had the first three. At some point last year, Accept released a new single for the song Life's A Bitch, but it barely made a blip on my radar. When they released another single earlier this year, this time for the song The Undertaker, I had the same kind of shoulder shrug reaction. I just didn't feel compelled to rush and check it out.
Spotify does this thing where after you finish listening to an album, they immediatly start a random playlist based on what was just playing. At some point they threw the new Accept song, The Undertaker, at me. When the song started, my first impression was that it kind of goofy, but as it continued to play, I started to get into it, and by the time the song was finished, I knew that I was going to have to revisit it and dig in a little deeper. After giving it a few more spins, I knew that I was going to have to head over to Nuclear Blast to pick up the 7 inch.
This 7 inch single is a lot of fun, and now I also want that Life's A Bitch 7 inch from last year...unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available. There aren't even ridiculously priced ones on Discogs or eBay. Very strange. Either way, these single have done their job because now I'm really excited for the new Accept album due out early next year.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Praying To Satan

With this covid pandemic, it has been a long time since I've stopped by one of the local record stores. As I was driving home from a friends house recently, I happened to be driving by one of the Bull Moose was late a night, so I was sure the store would be empty of customers, so I decided to stop in a poke around for a bit. It was fun to flip through some record bins, and when I saw a live bootleg for Slayer, I knew that I was going to have to take a trip to the register an buy it.
This live record is an old FM radio broadcast from back in '91. These type of radio broadcasts are popping up all over the place these days, and while they are generally good for the recording quality, they do tend to cut the setlist short so everything can be contained on a single LP. That is the case here for this Slayer bootleg. Everything sounds good, but I can't help but feel disappointed when comparing the record to the full setlist for this show, and noticing the songs that ended up being cut (ugh...would have loved to have Hardening Of The Arteries included on this record).
The band is on fire here though, and it serves as a good reminder of how great they were. I don't know...there are times when I kind of take those bigger bands like Anthrax, Metallica and Slayer for granted, and it seems that I rarely give thier albums a spin. I grew up with that stuff, and back in the late 80's that shit was in constant rotation...these days, I sometimes tend to overlook it for one reason or another. This live record was a nice reminder of just how insanely good the Slayer were, and now all I want to do is fill my daily playlists with late 80's thrash.

Friday, December 04, 2020

U.S. Voltage

I picked up a couple of big pieces for my AC/DC collection this year, grabbing the Aussie first pressing for High Voltage, as well as the original pressing for Stiff Upper Lip. Huge wins for the year...but as we started to close in on the end of the year, I got it into my head to make another run at one of the older AC/DC records.
For those early AC/DC records, in addition to the first Australian pressings, I also want to own the original US pressings as well. With the differences in track listings and cover artwork, I've got to get my hands on both...and there are a few other oddities that I would like to pick up at some point too, but I don't anticipate hitting those targets for quite some time. So keeping it simple, I made a move for a AC/DC's first US release High Voltage.
While I'd hoped to grab a copy of this record for cheap, I quickly realized that I was going to have to put down a few bills if I wanted a copy in good condition. With the album cover in such light colors, it is tough to find one that doesn't look beat to hell and covered in ringwear. Very happy with the one that I managed to pull off eBay.
Eight records of the first four AC/DC albums.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Seeing Blue

A couple of months ago, everyone was posting about their copy of the lastest Minor Threat reissue. I suppose it was only a matter of time until I grabbed a copy as well, but I managed to talk myself out of it for a good couple of weeks. In the end, it was Minor Threat on colored vinyl, and unlike most labels, Dischord doesn't have the bad habit of reissuing records on a different colored vinyl every four months, so this one still managed to feel a bit special.
No doubt, this latest pressing looks great. Even though I dragged my feet in buying this latest repress, the blue vinyl with the blue cover is too good to pass up.
The last time I picked up a Minor Threat repress was back when Discord did the yellow and green covers back in 2008. That was about twelve years ago, which seems forever ago..and it also blows my mind to think that I had blogged about those records at the time, which is a strange reminder that I've been doing this thing and writing about records for about a million years.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Soul Ship

I was scrolling through Instagram a while ago and saw that someone posted a photo of a new Soulside record. At one point I might have been surprised, but these days it seems that pretty much every old band has reunited in one way or another. I've always enjoyed those Soulside records from the late 80's, so I was interested to see what they would deliver thirty years later.
Initially, this record fell flat for me. I had the record in my cart in the Dischord store and all ready to go, but after giving the songs a spin on Spotify, I cancelled the order and walked away. Nope. I wasn't feeling it. I really love old Soulside, and I really wanted to like this new EP, so I gave it a shot again a few weeks later...meh, it was okay, but I felt like maybe I needed repeat listens to appreciate it. Fuck it. I went back to Dischord and ordered the record anyway.
I've given this record a few spins this month, and I've really come to like the song This Ship. Great song. The second track, Madeleine Said, is taking a bit longer, but I'm starting to come around on it. The third song, Survival... which is only available as a download, and isn't even on the fucking record (so that bothers me)... I'm still struggling with. It's okay, but the chorus doesn't sit right with me. So, overall, I had higher hope for this record, it isn't terrible, but it also isn't Trigger... and this is probably unfair of me.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Wild Cat

Last month I picked up a few New Wave Of British Heavy Metal singles. It had been a while since I'd really focused on that stuff, and those 7 inches were the catalyst that had me obsessing over it again. It was only a matter of time before I was on the hunt for more NWOBHM records, but now I wanted to knock a classic album off my list.
I've been listening to the first Tygers Of Pan Tang album a lot this past year. I had always preferred the band's second singer, Jon Deverill, and hadn't really paid much attention to thier first record, Wild Cat, with Jess Cox on the mic. Compared to Deverill, Cox's voice had always sounded a bit amateurish to my ears. This time around though, it was Jess Cox that made me keep reaching for the Wild Cat album. Suddenly it clicked, and I was loving the rough and shaky sound that Cox brought to the record. This album is just overflowing with youthful hunger and passion, and I haven't been able to get enough of it this year. When I started to look to pick up a NWOBHM classic, Wild Cat was the obvious choice.
While I could have probably picked up a US pressing for cheap, I really wanted the UK press that included the merch insert and lyric the UK version has the full Tygers Of Pan Tang logo on the center labels, instead of just the plain text for the band name. While it didn't break the bank, it was still worth the overseas shipping to grab this copy.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Seger Single Shakedown

Look, I enjoy Bob Seger's music, but I'm not a collector or even close to a completist. A lot of his 70's stuff is great, but as Seger moved through the 80's, things got a bit dicey, and I don't really spend much time with it. These two singles from '86 and '87 are outside of my comfort zone for the man, but they were free, and the songs aren't terrible, so I'll keep 'em in the collection. Why not?
The first Seger single on deck I received from a Discogs seller as a freebie. I'd ordered a few Japanese singles from him, so he tossed this one in for me. Okay, I'll take it. The song itself is Shakedown, from the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack. As a kid, the first Beverly Hills Cop movie was a favorite. It was one of the few VHS videos that my family bought, and watched that this over and over. The sequel, I don't remember a damn thing about right now. I do remember this song though, and I found it was a fun one to spin today.
I've got a few odds and ends that are still sitting in a pile from a collection that I inherited from my mom's boyfriend when he passed away four years ago. It is stuff that isn't too interesting or exciting, so I haven't bothered to do anything with it... but this seemed like a good time to pull out the Bob Seger single from the pile. The song, It's You, is from the Like A Rock album, which I am completely unfamiliar with. The song is okay. Not sure that I'd actively reach for it, but if I'm spinning some Seger, it isn't something that I'd skip.
Strangely enough, both singles happen to have the same b-side song, The Aftermath.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Punching The Sky

It has been five years since the last Armored Saint album, Win Hands Down. Having seen the band play live twice when they toured for that record, I have fond memories of it. When I heard that we were getting a new disk from the band in 2020, I was looking forward to what they would deliver. As soon as preorders went up in the Metal Blade store, I was quickly grabbing my copy.
The album is a solid slab of Armored Saint. It took me a few spins to warm up to Win Hands Down, and that was the same deal with this new one, Punching The Sky. It takes a bit for the songs to hook me, but after a few spins, I finally start to settle in and really enjoy it.
When I ordered my copy, I went for the special edition. Lavender colored vinyl, numbered and limited to 300, and includes a bonus patch and 7 inch.
Over the Covid Summer Lockdown, since all touring was shut down, a lot of bands were getting together virtually and recording some songs for fun and posting the videos online. Armored Saint decided to do a stripped down acoustic version of Isolation, from their 1987 album, Raising Fear. Glad that they took the opportunity to include it on the bonus 7 inch here.