I recently picked up two albums I had been anxiously awaiting, and I do mean physically “picked up” because I went to a store that sells CDs and bought them there. I’m one of the few people I know who still does this. Granted, I purchase plenty of music for download, but in that case I’m usually looking for a single song or two. When it comes to albums, I always go out and find a CD. Presentation aside, it’s nice to have a physical copy of my music after I upload it to my iPod. I’m also one of the few people I know who still uses an old school click-wheel iPod.
One of the two albums I acquired was Mastodon’s new release, Emperor of Sand. I liked Mastodon until they released Crack The Skye, at which point I fell in love with them. That album was a landmark for them, and their following albums have followed suit in their sound’s progression in change from sludge, stoner metal to heavy, progressive rock. I’ve personally enjoyed the shift in sound, but I hear lots of people complain that their sound isn’t as heavy as it used to be, and therefore these later releases are inferior. I disagree, and thoroughly enjoy their music. As I was buying the album, the cashier asked me if I’d heard any songs off Emperor of Sand. I replied that I had not and I was buying the album on good faith. She said that she’d heard mixed things about this new album, to which I said, “Let me guess. Their sound isn’t as heavy as it used to be.” I told her I’d been hearing that about every album since Crack The Skye and chances were I was going to enjoy this new album. We shared a laugh and I went on my way. And yeah, Emperor of Sand is awesome.
The other album I acquired is both an unusual purchase for me and an unusual release. Behemoth is an extremely heavy metal band from Poland whose albums are mostly about Satan. The first time I saw Behemoth live the lead singer, Nergal, ripped a Bible to shreds on stage. So imagine my surprise when Nergal decided to record a side project that ended up being a… country album? The side project is called Me And That Man, and the album is Songs of Love and Death. For a Satan-revering heavy metal growler from Poland who decided to give folk music a try, the album is surprisingly catchy. It’s heavily inspired by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, but still stands strong on its own unique sound. The songs range from dark and brooding to twangy and upbeat, and he trades vocal duties with another guitarist. It’s a very interesting experiment, and one I recommend giving a listen to.
Both albums are, to me, a lesson in exploring different aspects of your creativity and being unafraid to try new things. You may encounter naysayers, ridicule, or apathy, but getting out of your comfort zone is one of the most useful things you can do to grow as an artist and a person.