A Collector’s Profile - Approaches in collecting Heavy Metal CDs

There is a number of ways you can collect CDs. Your approach is basically determined on your own taste of metal and to a variety of other factors such as your interest in other cultural aspects. Although more or less everything discussed in this article apply to collecting vinyl too, our focus will be mainly on CDs. So here is a rough presentation of the different collection profiles:

Collection around a particular artist

Arguably a rather easy approach and perhaps the most common. You simply collect everything that has your favorite band’s logo printed on it. Considering the fact that bands such as Iron Maiden , Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Motorhead and the like have a vast amount of releases there is loads to find. First you get all the studio albums. Then you buy all the live albums and then all the singles. Quite obvious collectible CDs are all sorts of "limited edition” versions. These might be variations of an album in different packaging (e.g. digipack) or with extended tracklist and sometimes with an extra disc (CD or DVD). If you want to go the hard way, look for the Japanese versions (usually with loads of bonus tracks and different artwork) and for alternative versions pressed in different parts of the world. Up until recently it was quite common for the major labels to circulate slightly different versions of the same album in different countries. Compilation albums and Best Of’s will not offer more than a couple of unreleased songs (usually different takes or live tracks) but nevertheless are essential fillers for every serious collector. Other goodies of high importance are promotional CDs. Also known as ‘promos’, these are among the most wanted items due to the fact that they are never available to the public. Promos are pressed on limited quantities, always with a "not for sale” stamp on them and they are given by the record labels to music journalists and to other professionals of the music industry. The only places you will find promotional CDs are second-hand and on-line stores.

Collection around a particular subgenre
Another broad approach because sometimes bands can be classified under more than one subgenres. Furthermore the borderlines of some subgenres tend to overlap and might also be given different meanings by fans in different parts of the world. Such a collector will focus on, for example, Black Metal or Doom Metal. Additionally he or she might break this down to Norwegian Black Metal or Epic Doom Metal . This is an interesting approach if you want to extent deep into a particular sonic style. And Heavy Metal has so many subgenres…

Collection around a geographical location
Around a country or a scene. Gothenburg Death Metal, Florida’s Death Metal , Maryland Doom Metal and so on. Usually people who support their local scenes do collect as many as possible releases from their local artists and attend their gigs. Additionally some countries might sound very exotic to the ears of people who live at the other side of the world. Norwegian Black Metal is popular because – to a certain degree – Norway does appear to have an ‘exotic’ feel to fans from, say USA or Japan or even Southern Europe. Less popular are obsessions with Japanese bands, South American bands (you won’t believe what gorgeous bands there are in Peru, Cuba, Paraguay, Argentina etc) and with ex – Eastern European bands: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland etc – especially in the 1980’s there was a great number of yummy Metal vinyls! It is indeed very interesting to discover artists from far away countries and at the same time to learn about the history and the culture of their homeland.

Heavy Metal Covers
Collection around a specific decade

Pretty obvious isn’t it? What you fancy? The early years of the 1970’s? The glorious 1980’s? The broaden selection of the 1990’s? or maybe the 2000’s? Every decade for its own reasons has its own landmarks and has left us its own legacy of Metal music.

Themed collection.

Collection of material around a specific lyrical or conceptual theme regardless the genre, the period or the origin of the band. Some of the most favorite themes within the Metal community are: Tolkien and Lord Of The Rings, Satanism, The Occult and Heroic Epic Fantasy. Pretty much every topic you can possibly imagine from sadomasochism to saving the Earth you will be able to find enough related albums and bands.

The weirdest the better

This type of collector is the adventurer, the treasure hunter and the explorer of Metal. He doesn’t give a dime about the mainstream and the known bands. He seeks the most obscure, the most bizarre and the weirdest bands. Not only in musicological terms but also in terms of artwork and band origin. And there are far too many obscure bands in nearly all styles of Metal. Many times these type of artists have made just one album (or just one single) they get the worst ratings in magazines but after a while they do create their own rightful world of strangeness and a small cult following. No wonder why some of those releases become so expensive and rare. How about a jazzy doom metal act from Thailand?

A bit of everything

The collection of the open-minded Metal fan. He gets the same excitement (or different variations of excitement) listening to Darkthrone or to Poison or toStryper or to Anthrax . In his racks you will find sections of all styles and all periods of Metal. He is always up for new bands and always looking back in time to catch up with albums he missed. Impossible to complete a collection!

By no means the above analysis is a standardised strict way towards collecting CDs. Everyone is entitled to draw his own route and combine the different approaches the way it fits his taste and attitude. Metal Culture is so rich that there is an endless wealth of sounds to discover.