Thursday, June 14th, 2012 by steffmetal
As a metalhead, you probably have a pretty decent music collection. Metalheads are, by nature, hoarders of music – from the rare and impossible-to-find bootleg live albums that sound as if they were recorded from a first generation iPhone stashed in someone’s shoe, to the expensive and extravagantly packaged digipacks with the four discs of live footage you never intend on watching.
What do we do with all these CDs, vinyl, and files upon files of musical happiness? Do we throw them in the corner of our bedroom and forget about them. Of course not. Metalheads need a way to organize their collection – we put more effort into devising a sensible cataloguing system than most museum curators put into the catalogues of priceless artefacts in their care.
But why, I hear you ask, is categorizing your music collection even a topic for discussion? Surely most metalheads know how to put things in alphabetical order? Ah, but there you are wrong.
I have never met a metalhead who alphabetizes according to band name, unless his girlfriend or iTunes did it for him, and even then, he’d change it in a second if he wasn’t so lazy. No, what would be the point in that? You’d have Mariah Carey next to Mastedon, Immortal next to Iron Maiden … no, no, no. NO. It just wouldn’t work.
Most metalheads I know, who all have more CDs than Germany has kebab shops, organize by genre. Death Metal CDs on one shelf, ranging from simple original death metal bands like Obituary and Cannibal Corpse on the left (each band’s back catalogue organised chronologically, obviously) through to melodic and technical death in the middle, followed by death/black, grind/death and other death crossovers, and the more obscure industrial death, folk death and barely-death at the end.
This photo is of one of the 5 different CD stacks we have in our house, not including the stacks in the bookshelf, in the car, under the bed, and in random piles across my husband’s desk.
Then there’s black metal – from Venom through the whole Norwegian scene, (Mayhem, Burzum, Immortal) through the un-black (Antestor) and not-really-black-but-sorta-fits (Cradle of filth, Dimmu Borgir). Power metal on the shelf below – from traditional power (Blind Guardian, Helloween etc) to more raunchy traditional inspired power in the middle (Iron Fire, DreamEvil etc) to wanky orchestral power bands like Nightwish and Kamelot at the end. Bands that – while not being metal themselves – have played a heavy influence on the genre go on the topmost shelf. That’s Pink Floyd, Uriah Heep, Alice Cooper, Led Zepp, etc. Bands that bear no resemblance to metal but we still kinda like them anyway go on the bottom. There’s mostly grunge there – the entire Kyuss catalogue – and a Sarah Maclachlan CD that’s never been listened to (honestly) but you just haven’t got around to throwing away.
I once met a metalhead who organized his CDs in chronological order. Albums released in the same year are organised alphabetically. Looking at his rack demonstrated the evolution of metal music for the past three decades. It’s interesting to look at, but seems difficult to maintain to me.
Some people throw their CDs in the corner, and they get mixed up with the dirty laundry, and they stand on them and break them and can’t afford to replace them. This is why I no longer lend out CDs.
Once upon a time, before the great joining of the CD collection that is my marriage, I alphabetised by the second letter of the band or artists name. So Metallica would be filed under “E”, Iron Maiden under “R” and Tyr under “Y”.
But alas, my husband declared this perfectly sensible system strange and unwieldy, I reorganized all our CDs according to the age-old genre tradition, but it lasted all of three days when CDH discovered that Iron Maiden – his then favourite band of all time – had been placed near the bottom of one of the stacks due to their position in the rankings. Now we function on a purely shove-it-anywhere-and-come-here-for-some-sex system, which works very well indeed.
So, how do YOU categorize your CDs, if at all? Do you even own CDs, or are you all about the vinyl? Are you all about electronic music files or holding the CD booklet in your hand? Do you buy the special editions in the fancy cases with the extra DVDs and artwork (they annoy me because they don’t fit in the racks)?
Who am I?
I’m Steff. Born in New Zealand, raised on a steady diet of metal and out-of-print archaeology books, I’m now a freelance writer, accessible formats producer, and full-time iron maiden.
You can keep up to date with all the metal madness at my Steff Metal blog. I update 4 times a week with reviews, articles, advice and silliness about living the metal lifestyle. I also write a webcomic about black metal cats at Corpsepaint Kitty. And, for alternative biz owners, I run a creative business community for the dark side at Grymm & Epic.