It's Father's Day next month and just in case you're looking for ideas, you''ll have by the end of reading this piece, added Solid Cologne to your idea list.
To give you an idea of what this cologne feels like, it's made from solid natural bees wax and is very skin-friendly (I should know, I have tried it). The smoothness is impressive and scent is light, it's not one of those cologne's that make people cough or guff at the over-bearing smell, no it's actually very light.
This is very ideal for those who travel due to it's pocket size design, ease of sliding the casing off and easily fits in hand-luggage if flying overseas (obviously when COVID restrictions are better). But thinking ahead hurt no one and so if you're looking for something crisp, elegant and something ice cool for the metalhead in you, then you have no reason to not pick up Solid Cologne.
Due to it's miniature stature and suave design, it's easy to carry and could well be the deal-breaker in that meeting, that date you're trying to win or even in general day-to-day activities, make you feel like a winner.
All the colognes have the highest quality of natural ingredients including Beeswax, Shea butter & Jojoba oil. which all support and protect the skin.
The concentrated wax fragrances are portable, natural and moisturising. It’s easy to apply and hand. Discreetly packaged the application is fast and easy. Whip it out in the office, on the bus or in a crowded club/bar and smell amazing instantly.
The scents are subtle but refreshing. The blend of various notes within the solid colognes will stay on the skin which allows the fragrance to evolve throughout the day while interacting with your body temperature.
The Solid Cologne Alexander is a sweet, rich and sophisticated scent. The cologne begins with fresh grapefruit, leading to the heart of aromatic bay leaf and jasmine. The woody base includes patchouli, oak moss and ambergris. A truly unforgettable cologne.
Alexander costs £17.99 from Solidcologne.co.uk
Game Of Thrones is revving up for season 7 as filming is well underway and is due to wrap up in February next year. Well with The Telegraph [source] reporting that Norway could be included in the set locations for filming, it would seem ideal to use either Norwegian metal music or music created by metal musicians I.e. not true metal, so from ambient to atmospheric musics such as Wardruna per se.
It would also be fitting for the Game of Thrones saga to use such music given it's historical links with Norway in as far as the Black Metal style goes; not that one can imagine the likes of Jon Snow headbanging in the great halls or the Lannisters marching on enemy soils to the majestic sound of Dimmu Borgir's 'The Serpentine Offering', that said with the Norwegian Black Metal scene donning a Viking, mythological or folkloric stance then for sure the music itself would be rather fitting for the rather bloody yet mercurial fantasy-drama series.
As the Stark family / clan motto self-expresses, 'winter is coming' and thus so should the bitterness of the soundtrack provided. As the HBO producers of Game Of Thrones contemplate filming in Norway; given the land of Westeros facing the threat of a long and dark winter, this temptation has been given a boost given that Norway edges over Sweden in terms of their film production tax breaks additionally the actor who plays the wildling leader Tormund Gianstbane happens to be Norwegian (Kristofer Hivju).
Of course Metal music has been a staple in Norwegian music history with the most notable movements occurring in in the Black Metal styles. From the dawning of the 'Early Norwegian Black Metal' scene (2nd wave of Black Metal) from which bands like Mayhem, Enslaved Darkthrone, Old Funeral, Gorgoroth, Carpathian Forest, Immortal and Satyricon among others would emerge. It was also during this time that both the Magne Andreassen and Øystein Aarseth murders took place, Bård Guldvik "Faust" Eithun and Varg Vikernes being the respective murderers. Additionally the Fantoft stave church was burnt to the ground by Varg Vikernes, this sparking off a string of church arsons across Norway and into Sweden and beyond into Finland.
With the dark, grim and horrendous nature of the 2nd wave being left behind and the present 3rd wave of Black Metal breaking ground, with the largely ignored rise of the National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) movement and Black Metal spreading into the Middle East and beyond, the music genre will always carry connotations of hatred or at least a form of, be it deriving from the Satanic occult, anti-Islamism, anti-Semitism or indeed of an elitist nature.
Harking back to the Game of Thrones however, what would be an ideal band soundtrack in addition to the next score to potentially be written by German-Iranian composer Ramin Djawadi?
Below are 10 bands and accompanying songs that would befit the Game Of Thrones world and draw in the sound of True Norwegian Black Metal:-
1. Satyricon - The Pentagram Burns
2. Dimmu Borgir - The Serpentine Offering'
3. Wardruna - Völuspá
4. Carpathian Forest - I Am Possessed
5. Darkthrone - Tundra Leech (Arctic Thunder)
6. Gorgoroth - Sign of an Open Eye
7. Mayhem - Deathcrush
8. Taake - Nordbundet
9. Urgehal - Goatcraft Torment
10. Windir - 1184 - Todeswalzer
Hopefully the producers of Game of Thrones will consider Norwegian Metal, specifically Black Metal as a choice of background music or perhaps include some musicians as extras, who knows what will happen but the thought is very there and very tempttng.
As if Europe had not seen enough shifts this year with Brexit becoming evermore the reality of this year... and the next, well in the wake of this historical moment both Norway and Iceland have aired their thoughts about the EEA (European Economic Area), specifically-speaking about their membership. Now whilst Norway is as equally important in this article as Iceland, it is the latter that shall be covered in this article and the implications to follow if indeed Iceland does abandon the EEA and join the likes of Switzerland as merely an 'observer' of the EEA and the EU.
Iceland is governed by the ruling Progressive Party, recently or perhaps some time ago (not quite sure about Icelandic politics here) they adopted a new foreign policy which puts into question whether they should stay or leave the EEA and retract their membership of the Schengen Agreement; which to some people is dangerous in it's own rights, I shall leave you to ponder what the dangers are as inevitably there will be a split decision on whether the said agreement is beneficial or not.
Soon I shall delve into why this decision might benefit Icelandic musicians, rather than carrying on delivering all the somewhat boring, nitty-gritty paraphernalia that some call 'politics', instead of trawling around we'll go fishing for the truth (first of the few Icelandic puns; well they're keen fishers, but don't bank on using that pun for 'catching' some Iceland woman...).
Whilst Schengen merely is about the free movement of people, the EEA plays a more (un)important role in the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital. Whilst Schengen is not a part of the EEA legislature, Iceland as an EFTA member (European Free Trade Assocation) participates in the Schengen agreement through bilateral agreements and thus are required to apply all areas of what constitute European Union law.
Moreover when you consider the UK is Iceland's trading partner in both goods and services, it offers greater reassurance for 'Brexiteers' leading the route out of the EU, that we already have a standing trading agreement with our North Atlantic cousins. With the idea of the Icelandic Government seeking to expand trade deals with the British Governments over the current level, clearly there is a high mutual understanding between both countries.
Who can argue that Iceland at night (as pictured above) looks far more peaceful and cleaner than the current state of the EU? Well there are the Eurocrats... but we won't go down THAT route. In fact, who cannot say no to trading with a country who has their own natural lighting at night? Talk about saving electricity usage and energy costs; aside from the fact they use thermal power, renewable energy and yet with a population of over 332,000, which in contrast is larger than the likes of Newcastle, Bolton and Sunderland as the closest cities to Iceland in terms of population (2016), has become the most peaceful nation in the world. No wonder Iceland wants out.
So how will this benefit Icelandic musicians you now ask? Simple.
By establishing a direct link between two countries, both parties can work out an amicable and beneficial trade deal without the need or annoying disturbance from an intermediary third party such as the EU (depending upon what side of the fence you position yourself; we choose to remain neutral).
Let's start with the UK currently charges for imports on musical instruments from outside of the EU, for this we will purposely look at what rock and metal bands would generally import:-
* Taken from the HMRC website.
Now let's look at the rates that Iceland have imposed for their imports (again same instruments):-
Well, they seem to have no import tariffs on instruments, maybe this is true or perhaps the information is not available.
At least we cannot foresee a modern form of the cod war, truth be told by freeing the shackles of the EU from controlling our trade negotiations the UK can go pursue it's own deals without interference, ironically by leaving the EU we turn our backs on a unique trading 'club', either way there's bound to be a good outcome be it the licence to roam the world and strike mutually beneficial trade deals or to watch from afar as the European Union comes crashing down.... who is next? Who knows. Nexit? Frexit? Auxit? Can there even be a Euxit? (Well that's wishful thinking for some...)
Ultimately the question is will Iceland-UK relations strengthen as a result of the Brexit decision, moreover can both Governments look to support each others fledging music scenes as both have rich music histories and thus a no tariff on importing or exporting of musical instruements would be warmly welcome.
In the meantime, let's just enjoy the above photo of an Icelandic man who has dyed his beard in the pattern of the Icelandic flag, to watch Iceland glaze England over in a historic 2-1 win. Friður út!!
The UK and France share the Channel Tunnel, aiding the daily movement of cargo, passenger vehicles and persons from the island to continental Europe. Fairly straightforward right? Trains run under the same stretch of water, again fairly straightforward? Sure. So what about a 92km (57.2 miles) trek underwater as a way of moving from A to B?
Well this is exactly what the Finnish and Estonian ministers have in mind (having signed a memorandum of understanding; thus leading to a cooperative research initiative between the two nations to better understand the pro's and cons of the said project) to bring both Helsinki and Tallinn much closer, opening easier access and decreasing time spent on the water travelling between the two cities; or for the bolder driver travelling via Russia.
Of course the tunnels in question could bring long-term economic prospects to both nations, not to mention the potential for a Guinness World Record as the 'longest underwater railway tunnel', so here's hoping that at no point during the transition between the planning and constructing stages that no 'steam' is lost.
Naturally enabling a more-direct service would give cargo greater ease of access to pass through the two nations and to the designated final destinations. In addition the proposed railway will link up to another rail line which as the diagram shows will connect the Baltic nations, Poland and Germany together, thus enabling as said greater ease of access for cargo to travel across Europe in this case.
According to Railway Technology, the proposed 'trains could reach speeds of 250km/h, significantly cutting the commuting time from the current two and a half hours by ferry down to only 30 minutes per journey.' (http://www.railway-technology.com/features/featurehelsinki-tallinn-rail-tunnel-a-future-european-link-4827400/), so this asks the question, how could this help the lives of the Finnish and Estonian peoples, in particular musicians?
Well for those touring and gigging, not only would it bring the possibility of next-day gigs happening off the cuff but also because the estimated travel time is only 30 minutes, then bands and musicians would not have a long wait ahead to catch the ferry or take the unconventional trip through Russia.
Furthermore this would help the fans reach either country to see the bands they want to see play more easily, instead of leaving to get to a gig over three hours prior to it starting. Plus if they plan to adopt the same style of transport used in the Channel Tunnel, then bands touring from outside of and across Europe on coaches would certainly feel the benefits through cost, time and as said twice previously ease of access.
Granted this venture is set to make its first proper steps between 2025 and 2030, but let's face it, technology is advancing at such a rate that by the time this connection is made, continental underwater railways might be a vision in-sight, could you imagine Europe connecting with Africa?
The Helsinki-Tallinn Tunnel will be built into the public transport systems in both countries with
Finland's Central Railway station and Helsinki airport and Estonia's traffic network at Ülemiste receiving the revolutionary transportation links. Of course it will be an expensive venture clocking up at around 9-13 billion euros (between £7-£10 billion), but with travel journeys estimated to take 30-40 minutes, that is a decent investment if you think about it.
But this there any more benefits to musicians aside from just quicker travelling and simpler logistics? Well OK say there was a delay in movement, or the train stopped, those with guitars could easily strum a note or two and thus give passengers an insight into their music. Of course music equipment would be easier to ship, thus potentially reducing shipping and handling fees. It avoids having to go into Russia and consequently needing a Visa due to the Schengen Area covering most of Europe except the UK, Russia, Ireland, South-Eastern and parts of Eastern Europe.
It also would help not only musicians, but people in general travel without the worry of the weater outside that otherwise could cancel ferries as it would be underground.
Whatever the future holds for this ingenious project, here's hoping it comes into fruition, helps musicians and the peoples of Finland and Estonia in genera, but on a greater scale bring together both countries' remarkable metal music scenes and nations respectively.
There is a whole host of socio-economic and cultural benefits and drawbacks stated on:- http://www.railway-technology.com/features/featurehelsinki-tallinn-rail-tunnel-a-future-european-link-4827400/
Heavy Metal, it's been with us since the 1970's and since then it has rapidly grown in size, strength and widespread appreciation. Yet in pockets across the world, there are certain nations and regions that still either want to oppress the genre or persecute it's followers (or both), simply because it is relatively new (in some countries) and therefore might as well be seen as an invasion on their own cultural and religious traditions. However on the other hand there are some nations who even though befit the aforementioned traits are in fact starting to realize the potential this music export has, what benefits it brings to their country and how they can support their citizens success'.
Such countries who are or who have made this transition include (but not limited to): Tunisia, Indonesia, Israel and India.
But as said there are some countries who do not seem to want to or are willing to acknowledge the music genre in terms of it being a potentially beneficial export - that is where bands or artists can represent their country on the international stage and perhaps bring jubilant success in terms of recognition, whether it be for socio-political reasons e.g. Israeli and Palestinian metal bands Orphaned Land and Khalas retrospectively (they toured together) or as a means of defying war in their home country e.g. Acrassicauda (who fled from Iraq to the USA).
We'd like to stress that we are not attacking the religion itself, but rather trying to highlight the socio-cultural problems metalheads face in these parts of the world.
With more nations beginning to accept metal music, where does this leave some of the world's ravaged countries and their respective metal scenes? We take a look at three countries who not only have an actual historical and presently active metal scene but are being scrutinized for their clamping down on this form of musical art.
Iran, Egypt and Algeria. They all have comparisons and differences, the latter applying to geographical positioning and cultural heritage, however specific comparisons that straddle these three nations include their ancient history, conservative norms, ancient linguistics but even more crucially, they're Islamic nations.
Now without touching the very delicate nature of the Islamic faith, there is an apparent stigma demonstrated by the conservative Muslims, whereas their Indonesian counterparts are embracing the genre with newfound appreciation, what with their new President being a supporter of metal music himself, quite the irony when you think that they are the largest Muslim population in the world.
Iran despite its strong yet ironically unstable metal scene, over the years has vehemently shown aggression towards the music genre due to it conflicting with it's cultural traditions, leading to it's probable classification as harem under Sharia law (in Islam). In fact the documentary "Global Metal" has shed light on the overall perception of Metal music in Iran, from the religious police perspective through the Iranian metalheads; one personally knowing Tom Araya (Slayer) and of whom had sent a photo to Tom of him standing adjacent to a wall with 'Slayer' spray painted on it. Tom's personal thought sums up the whole situation of metal music in Iran.... preach it and play it with extreme caution.
Arsames is perhaps Iran's most successful metal band, yet the nation still seems to be finding metal music a threat to their cultural norms as said. Abhorrently going to great lengths to make this genre hated, by recently arresting some musicians for 'Satanic' reasons (what can be more Satanic than Satanism? Well it is it's own religion for starters, and yet whilst the 'culna' or 'devil's horns' may well be correlated to Satanism, it in fact has a rather intriguing and startling background.
The culna is seen to be a sign to warn off the 'evil eye', which is seen to cause injury or misfortune through delivering a malevolent look, so think of it as a shamanic way of warding off negative energy. Quite the contrast to what is seen in the Muslim world, oh and the interesting thing is that the 'evil eye' is a superstition in Iran (as explained here).
So if should the Iranian Government push ahead and execute the metal band Confess (read here), then they might as well have betrayed the historical and mythological beliefs held within Iranian folklore.
What with the knowledge that at least 69 Iranian bands / projects are active or have been active; some of which have fled to other countries including Malaysia and various European countries (http://www.metal-archives.com/lists/IR), this small and slightly isolated underground scene operates in the consistent threat of being targeted as supposed preachers of Satanism and thus betraying the cultural-historical tradition of the Islamic faith in Iran.
Yet in the Quran, specifically chapter: Al-Baqra (verse 193), it states:-
"fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is only for Allah. But if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors". (https://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/nora/html/2-193.html)
Then surely, by addressing this belief that one should fight another entity until persecution is no longer a threat, in context with Heavy Metal we should stand and fight the oppression laid bare by those who deem it a threat. Furthermore if those who are against Heavy Metal (in this case you know who) cease their attack on said music genre then surely the irony presented here is that hostility should be used against the oppressors. Confusing right?
Egypt is also fighting it's own corner, but it has less oppression towards metal music what with bands like Scarab becoming the leading exporter of Egyptian Metal. In fact, Scarab are the first metal band from Egypt to play in the UK and at Bloodstock festival.
Furthermore it was one of Scarab's musicians, Al Sharif Marzeban who appeared on Egyptian television and defended the music genre's integrity. For those film buffs and for those who indulge in world cinema, I now draw your attention to the Egyptian film 'Winter of Discontent' which is all about the Tahrir Square uprisings which lead to the consequential removal of president Mohamed Morsi.
This event in Egyptian history was regarded by the supporters and media as a revolution in contrast to those who supported Morsi and the international community who simply dubbed it a coup d'état. And yet whilst all this was happening, the Egyptian Metal scene was simmering in the underground. So with the removal of Morsi and the continual battle between the oppressors and metal musicians, who knows if and when the impending second revolution will take place. Let's face it, it's likely to happen because these freedom fighters (if you like) will only accept so much before it all boils over and violent clashes will pursue, just like what happened in the Arab Spring.
It comes to something when the Head of Musicians Syndicate Hany Shaker appears to have indirectly attacked the metal music community by labelling fans who attended a Black Metal concert in down-town Cairo 'devil worshippers', one of a few statements made by Shaker which ultimately led him attempting resignation under extreme pressure and widespread criticism, only to be met by the board of directors refusing his submitted resignation citing their tolerance with him as a representative (http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/03/01/fighting-weird-t-shirts-and-makeup-metal-concert-controversy/).
Algeria has a relatively short history when it comes to metal music, with the first recorded metal show being played by possibly the first ever metal band in the Algerian scene (show was on 18.05.1995); accounting for bands who might have pre-dated 1993 as Neandethalia according to the Metal Archives seem to be the earliest metal band from Algeria as seen here
Yet despite this there have been a handful of bands who have either made an impact nationwide or further still gained attention from fans and media alike worldwide, such bands include:- Barbaros, Devast, Acyl, Lelahell, and Taddart. With perhaps Barbaros, Devast, and Lelahell being noted as the most well-known, the former plays Black Metal whilst the latter two play Death Metal.
Some bands like Barbaros don't consider themselves 'Algerian' but rather 'Berber' as the latter being a nomadic tribe who reside in the deserts of North Africa.
It seems apparent that Algerian Metal came to be during the height of the Algerian Civil War (1991-2002) and that those caught in the conflict resorted to making music as a way of not only taking their minds off of the monstrosities but also to channel their frustration and emotions through said art. Of course you would think that because the nation itself has a huge Islamic following that metal music would be oppressed, sure it hasn't been on the global radar for that long, in fact it's only recently that bands like Acyl (who are now based in France), Lelahell and Devast have gotten attention across the underground internationally.
Yet even those who are of the Islamic faith, they see metal music as more of a freedom of expression and vehicle to channel their emotions down respectively and without causing damage or destruction to society as a whole. Moreover, even the females are getting into metal music in this part of the world and as The Guardian (here) picked up on the fact that the new generation are opening their vision up and absorbing what could be perceived as the beginning of a musical cultural shift.
However, because of the Conservative nature of those who see metal music as a form of devil worshipping or at the very least a threat to traditional norms and the Islamic faith, metalheads who attended the Fest 213 in Constantine (Algeria) would upon leaving the festival, not dress in black t-shirts and any garb associated with the metal music movement as to avoid any potential conflict.
Even though the attempts by Iranian, Egyptian and Algerian Metal fans alike to promote and bolster the genre's existence in their respective nations is truly courageous, the international community can do so much more by paying far more attention to these largely ignores scenes. Sure there is a growing consensus that Western Metalheads are opening up to the idea of checking these bands out, yet there are a lot who prefer to stick to the bands they know, be it those force-fed by the media or those of 'trad-metal' origin - that is those where metal has been thriving free from conflict, for a long time and without cultural constraint such as the Nordics, the UK, Germany, the USA, the Iberian peninsula, the Benelux etc.
How the irony of metalheads who supposedly are meant to be open minded arises when the lack of attention given to bands from nations further afield is evident. Something we at GMA do not dabble in, we believe that EVERY single metal scene needs a voice - this correlates to the debate of whether 'does it matter where a metal band comes from geographically?'; in an article a few years back some metalheads said it doesn't matter, just as long as the music is good, some agreed that it does matter. We believe it does matter, because each band in each scene has a story to tell, and for those in Iran, Egypt and Algeria it is synonymous that this story is one of struggle, war, oppression and accusations.
But for a moment hark back to the dark ages (essentially the middle ages) when ideas and thoughts were shared between Europe and the Middle East, a time when Islam was finding it's feet and when Muhammad lead his charge against the rival groups across the region. Ultimately leading to the long-term succession of Iberia and Malta; the latter's language Maltese a descendant of Arabic. So with this spread, that is the ideas from the Middle East spreading across into Europe such as these (did you know this?) examples:
These are a few of the discoveries and ideas taken into Europe during that time, surely then because the Western world is returning something back to the Middle East / Islamic world through Metal music, it should be acknowledged and respected rather than downed and disgraced?
If and when metal music begins to stabilize itself in the Islamic nations, not just Iran, Egypt and Algeria, then it could be said that not only has the traditional cultural values accepted the newfound form of expression, nor has it fought against what clearly the youth are thinking (for themselves) openly, but more importantly it has confirmed itself as a successful step to getting metal recognized in the Islamic nations as well as on a greater scale, a new chapter in the history of the global metal movement.
السلام والموسيقى المعدنية يعيش طويلا
(peace and long live metal music)
Syria, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, The Ukraine, Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and India. They all have two things in common, one being an active conflict zone, the other being Heavy Metal music scenes.
From the invasion of The Ukraine by Russia, to the ongoing rocket launches between Israel and Palestine, we're seeing humanity being destroyed by it's very self, yet as we have seen with countries like Brazil, China and Indonesia, Metal music can not only bring democracy and internal stability, but it can bring a way forward for the population to speak out and use it to release any feelings they want to without harming anyone.
Let's be honest, it may well be seen as the devil's music, but when you have people commit acts of extremism, where is the devil's work now? Certainly not metal music. Bands like Israel's Orphaned Land and Palestine's Khalas have sought out to show that underneath the cloaks of the mass media, a unique global culture thrives where political, social, cultural and national differences are pushed aside in favor of a common understanding: Heavy Metal.
But when the mass media only want to cover the negative sides all the time, to show and sell stories in order to make a quick buck through unmistakably purporting such countries as nothing but extremist hotbeds, and lacking any mutual feeling as neighbors or diplomatic friends, what they don't realize (and we've said this) is that Metal music, unifies the world.
So, what happens when Heavy Metal goes to war? Are friendships forgotten or are they simply put on hold? Let us take you to these conflict zones and discover the truth behind the battle lines.
We would like to make it clear we are completely neutral when it comes to talking about certain conflicts.
Israel vs. Palestine
One conflict that always seems to be right on the front pages is the ongoing spat between Palestine and Israel. With the Gaza strip being slap bang in the middle of it, whilst each side fires over rockets at each other and accusing one another of doing wrong, resulting in the unnecessary loss of life.
On the metal forefront, two bands have grabbed the headlines as they toured with each other and showed that they are brothers in arms. Orphaned Land, an Oriental Folk / Doom Metal outfit fronted by Kobi Farhi were awarded alongside Palestinian rock group Khalas with the "Global Metal" award at this years Metal Hammer Golden God awards. Furthermore Orphaned Land recently performed two sets at Bloodstock Open Air, one being an acoustic set.
You can watch both bands receive their award right here.
When you have two religions come together, Islam and Judaism, this coming together signifies a strengthening within the global metal scene, one that says we are united. In a general context it is a strong sign to say 'let us bring peace and stop these meaningless conflicts'.
Our own Israeli correspondent gave his thoughts on this (and in context with an Orphaned Land):
"You can see Arabs, Jews, Muslims and Christians singing together, drinking and having fun. Singing together about peace and forgetting they "hate each other", this is beautiful to me and most importantly of all they sometimes bring Palestinian bands to perform and support peace, I do think this is leading us to peace, more than politics does"
People from hall of the democratic filed (Right of left)
From all of us at Global Metal Apocalypse, we extend our heartwarming thanks to the following people who donated through our recent English Metal compilation (photo above acknowledges the total £65 raised).
Whilst Ted may not appreciate your type of music, nor may he find it adequate enough to use as part of his crude and rude yet inventive comments, illegal music downloading alongside purchased digital music may find itself come face to face with the first recorded format in history.... the vinyl.
After reading that vinyl sales in 2014 reached a record high in 18 years, it could be the sign of things to come as we are now fully embracing 2015. Thought to be sparked off by the hipster movement, vinyls are being bought from the most independent stores to nationwide chain stores such as HMV. The fact that vinyl sales are increasing could indicate a swing away from the digital downloading option and towards a physical media purchasing route. The imminent threat however comes from digital music streaming as this new media channel seems to be increasing in popularity endlessly and with services like Spotify leading the charge, the question that needs to be addressed is will vinyls hamper digital downloads for a period of time or is this just a blip in music consumerism?
Well with the Official Charts Company just recently announcing a vinyl chart (1*) alongside it's continual album and single sales charts, it would seem that they believe this is not just a blip in the music industry, but rather a more prolonged swing to the old times of pitching the gramophone and letting the vinyl play, before being flipped over to the other side; it was the playing of a vinyl that made Nipper the HMV dog immediately recognize that the vinyl that was playing, was in fact 'His Masters Voice' - that is his owner was singing.
Consumers also tend to forget that everything comes in cycles, e.g. we saw the emergence of the VHS, then the DVD, the Blu Ray and then the 3D Blu Ray. Yet DVD's tend to outsell Blu Rays and crucially there are lesser titles available in the Blu Ray range compared to DVD's. Contextualized with music, we saw the vinyl, then the tape, then the CD, then the digital music age and now we are seeing the reemergence of vinyl, so could the music media evolution be re-revolutionizing itself?
According to the Wall Street Journal (2*), "Vinyl-record sales of 9.2 million were the highest since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991, and a 52% increase from 2013" and yet the "use of streaming grew sharply to 164 billion songs—a 54% increase from 106 billion in 2013", so it can be safe to say that vinyls and streaming services are both killing the digital downloading age and it makes sense in retrospect. Think about it, you can listen to music whenever you want and don't need to clutter your hard drive up with audio files; with exception to the vinyl-to-mp3 converter.
There again didn't retro make a comeback? Are people actually that fed up with the modern day trash that the old ways just seem more than the best option, but rather the most modest and rewarding?
Makes you think doesn't it? How can it be that Urban Outfitters have latched on to this revelation and started to sell vinyls to it's consumers when it's core products revolve around the 'hipster' trend amongst others - see the relation? The thing is "across the globe it is now one of the biggest stockists of vinyl" (3*) and with this fact, Urban Outfitters could alongside HMV bring vinyl fully to the consumer forefront.
The days of digital music downloading look bleak, with streaming becoming it's only digital threat and vinyl attacking it from the physical side, could we see tapes reemerge again in the future? Will illegal downloading become a fad of the past, and ultimately will outlets like iTunes and Amazon have to rethink their digital music downloading strategies and marketing to compete with this remarkable musical consumerism turnaround?
Oh and with Record Store Day this Saturday 18th April 2015, why not seek a fair few intriguing vinyls on the day and see if you can discover these gems?
Without a doubt possibly one of those most devastating, yet ironically most interesting events to happen in the metal music scene this year, is the acquisition of Century Media by Sony Music Entertainment.
We all know how well Sony are doing within the music industry, having a core reach in Asia and a greater range of music than SME rivals Warner Music Group and Universal, with that in mind it was inevitable for the acquisition to take place.
Moreover since Sony would be acquiring their first ever metal music label, with the Warner Music Group already having been down that avenue with Reprise Records and Universal extending its reach to places like Finland where Spinefarm Records are part of the Universal Music Group, it is deemed to be the best move for Centrury Media.
The deal that was brokered involves part-ownership by Sony and the other half retained by founder Robert Kampf, this way they retain the label's rich history and follow the same steps as Spinefarm Records, unlike Reprise Records who are owned outright by the Warner Music Group.
We will keep you updated on future developments.
Now whilst many people around the world would prefer to sit back or lay down, turn on their favourite pop music or the radio and listen to whatever is being played, there are some who would rather go to the other end of the music spectrum and indulge in some metal music. Or on the other hand, there are some metal music fans who cannot be bothered to ignore the force-feeding of bands delivered to them by the major media outlets, telling them who they should listen to, rather than thinking for themselves... after all isn't the alternative cultures meant to portray free-thinking? See the irony?
"I'm not the kind of person who tries to be cool or trendy, I'm definitely an individual" Leonardo DiCaprio
It becomes a right pain and annoyance when narrow-minded people perceive metal music as Satanic, ironically they are partially right as there are bands out there who do sing about Satanic-related topics or indeed Satanism itself. However if you properly analyse it, metal music IS the most popular music genre going and why? Simple. It became subject to globalization. Sure, you might argue “oh but popular music is the most international because it is popular” or “Metal music is rubbish and pop music is the best”, whilst these may be subjective opinions, the reality is simpler than the first quotation, that is do you ever hear about Indian pop music on the major UK radio stations? Not really. But in metal music you hear bands from all over, including India.
"It is people who are the objects of globalization and at the same time its subjects. What also follows logically from this is that globalization is not a law of nature, but rather a process set in train by people"
The thing about it is, metal music is a truly respected music genre and is growing all the time, recently I came across scenes in Bhutan and French Polynesia, yes French Polynesia, you know that island archipelago smack-bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Yeah that one. I'm pretty sure they might not have heard of Justin Bieber, but nay say do they care (somewhat diverting from the main point here)? The fact is that metal music has managed to adapt itself to incorporate traditional cultural customs and itself in fact has become embodied within cultures worldwide.
Take for example bands like Melechesh from Israel, Myrath from Tunisia and ChthoniC from Taiwan, these are bands who incorporate their native traditional sounds and as a result authenticate their own style of metal. Where Melechesh would sing about the ancient lands of Sumeria and Mesopotamia, Myrath would just add Arabian music as influences whereas ChthoniC use the Ur-hu to introduce the Far Eastern sounds, and this is why metal is more than just music, it's a vehicle used to express the national or trans-national cultures.
"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people"
Why is it then we don't appreciate this style of music as much as we could or in terms of the metal music world, should. Why is that we don't acknowledge these bands from the far flung countries have a greater connection with their culture than their pop music counterparts?
In no means necessary am I trying to force or thrust metal music down people's throats as much to say, this is what you should listen to. We live in a democratic society and thus everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when you see musicians playing metal in the far-from-democratic countries e.g. Libya, Saudi Arabia, etc, and then learn that metalheads out in these Conservative countries get faced with persecution or death for being associated with metal, or “the devil's music” as they so do call it, a sense of respect creeps in for them defying the normalities of their culture in an attempt to speak out about the emotions they feel.
If that is not a form of cultural expression then I do not know what is
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