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The good old LP / Vinyl record faced a difficult time during the 1990s and 2000s, but since the beginning of 2010 it seems the LP is making a huge comeback and now in 2012 it is the only format within the music industry that seems be heading for a bright future in actually making profit, especially compared to the downward trend of sales in the CD market. Personally speaking I have always been more of a vinyl junkie than a CD collector, but between 1991 and 2009 hardly anything of the new releases was released on LP, so the only existing format one could turn to was the CD. One way or the other, money making recordlabels are now aware of the fact that they can make more profit with a vinyl release than a CD release, so at the moment a lot of new albums are released on both formats and I do suspect that in 10 years from now the CD will be beaten by the LP/Vinyl record again. Although I am more than happy this change of music format climate has happened, I feel quite concerned about the quality of some of the releases, because some of the re-issues do sound quite awful. For instance the 1980s METALLICA re-issues on LP from a few years ago were really awful, both the sound of the vinyl and the artwork did not have any soul, so be especially aware with any vinyl re-issue.
However, also some of the vinyl releases of new albums seem to be a cash-in/rush-hush effect and that is of course not a good thing, because if you listen carefully to some of the 1980s original LP releases, one can clearly hear that vinyl is able to provide you the best possible sound quality. The most annoying thing about new vinyl is that the volume of the music has a real soft sound, especially compared to the old vinyl records and almost every new vinyl record requires you to turn up the volume up to max in order to really hear the included music.
I do feel that it’s all a matter of money and passion for the love of vinyl that can make the difference and happily there are still enough people out there who do care in bringing a high quality vinyl release of a new album. Anyway, I have myself bought these past few years over 100 new vinyl releases and although some did sound a bit so-and-so and are perhaps overshadowed by a higher quality CD release of the same album, the incredible almost “happy-child feeling” one gets when opening the sealed record, putting the album on the turntable and looking at the artwork is the same feeling you get when you get home after a long day of working hard!
Anyway, I already own a huge collection of vinyl records dating back to the 1968-1993 period, of which most were actually bought during the 1990s, when there was a major clear-out of vinyl at record stores and trades. Now it is nice to see all these new albums being released on vinyl, so the collection can grow with newly recorded material and that of course is really interesting, also to share on Strutter’zine. Below is a short overview of the records I bought myself these past 2 or 3 years, with a small review/comment on the album.
A few of the specialized labels really jumped on the vinyl releasing business, because especially NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS, ROADRUNNER, AFM RECORDS and FRONTIERS RECORDS are delivering a lot of vinyl records of their most well-known new album releases. It’s no wonder that these are all high quality releases, which you can easily purchase. AVANTASIA’s ‘The Metal Opera’ has been very nicely released as double-vinyl sets each part and all of them look and sound very collector-ish, so definitely something to check out, especially since they were never available on vinyl and without a doubt, the artwork looks so much better now than on the tiny crappy CD covers. Also highly recommended are the 4 vinyl releases that were released of all the PSYCHOTIC WALTZ albums, because the artwork and also the included Progressive Metal is just amazing. This American band one of the most underrated bands in this genre and their reunion live performances earlier this year showed this band is still able to provide high quality music that was far ahead of its time in the early 1990s. The NWOBHM genre is one that simply screams for vinyl releases and we have seen many releases on the LP format the past few years, both independently and on the NWOBHM specialized label HIGH ROLLER RECORDS. On this label a lot of old/early 80s ‘rare’ NWOBHM bands’ recordings are released on vinyl, usually a collection of demos, singles and rare live recordings. These are visually always high quality releases, but the sound/production is not always picture-perfect, because some of the releases suffer from a weaker sound quality due to the fact these are rare homemade recordings from 30+ years ago. Nevertheless I did enjoy my purchases of the album releases by AXIS, SPARTA and such. More interesting however are the wave of new NWOBHM style bands that emerge from all over the world and their new albums sound really great on vinyl. I am talking about CAULDRON (‘Burning fortune’/Canada), GHOST (‘Opus eponymous’/Sweden), IN SOLITUDE (‘The world: the flesh: the devil’/Sweden), SKULL FIST ‘Head of the pack’/Canada), WHITE WIZZARD (‘Flying tigers’/USA), VANDERBUYST (‘In Dutch’/Holland) and TWISTED TOWER DIRE (‘Make it dark’/USA), 6 highly recommended albums with excellent artwork as well. All sounding like a cross between the classic sound of early IRON MAIDEN, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, TOKYO BLADE and JAGUAR. The vinyl world is very kind to this genre, releasing new albums of old (30+ years!) and new (2011) recordings.
Almost any major act from the past, whom haven’t released anything on vinyl the past 20 years and/or any of the bands that have been active the past 20 years, they are all now jumping to vinyl and the ones I bought the past few years are the new albums of JOURNEY, MAGNUM, THE SCORPIONS, STRATOVARIUS, URIAH HEEP, MR. BIG, NEVERMORE, BLIND GUARDIAN, KAMELOT, OPETH, ORPHANED LAND and several others. Although some of these are really not groundbreaking musically speaking, this year’s new albums of MR. BIG, URIAH HEEP, SYMPHONY X (gotta love those Gatefold records!), PAGAN’S MIND (one of the highlights in progmetal this year) and OPETH are worth checking out definitely. OPETH seems to be a pure progband on their new record ‘Heritage’, which is an incredible progfest in the style of SPOCK’S BEARD and TRANSATLANTIC and perhaps might become the finest progalbum in 2011 and without a doubt, you gotta get the vinyl version, which comes as a beautiful gatefold record.
Across the Atlantic, the US Major Labels were quite desperately a few years ago before the Vinyl Explosion, because the music industry drastically changed regarding sales in CDs, but of course the Americans surely know how to make or create new business again and so almost any major release is now pressed onto Vinyl. It is however a huge pity that a lot of these releases do not make it to Europe and are only available for expensive prices through the Internet. Luckily I managed to get some of the rare US Import Vinyl releases, such as WE ARE THE FALLEN (EVANESCENCE members with a superb AMERICAN IDOLS finalist as singer, sounds heavier and more akin to the European Female Fronted Melodic Metalsound), THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM (cool traditional US Rockband), CASTLE and ROYAL THUNDER (Underground Doom sounding, female fronted bands a la THE DEVIL’S BLOOD), NEON TREES (typical modern sounding New Wave ish Poprock, quite melodic and sometimes filled with 80s AOR like melodies), STEEL PANTHER (although they just released their new album, their debut is so much better, a classic in the parody genre, easily beats any SPINAL TAP release!) and the bunch of ROADRUNNER RECORDS releases of DREAM THEATER (haven’t bought the new one yet!) and modern-day American Nu-Metal releases of BLACK STONE CHERRY, ALTER BRIDGE and STONE SOUR that all sound way more melodic than anyone would guess!
Really major acts like WITHIN TEMPTATION and FOO FIGHTERS also deliver some great new Vinyl records earlier in 2011 and I do have to remind anyone to try to pick-up any of the Picture Discs that have been released by the Swedish label @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ whom deliver really excellent collector item’s for the AOR/Melodic Rockfans among us, namely the latest albums of GIANT, W.E.T and DANGER DANGER, with high hopes for more releases in the near future.
Although the artwork looks quite stunning most of the time, sometimes the sound is not always crystal clear and I can only hope that in the future new material will be recorded specifically for a Vinyl release and if necessary is printed on CD afterwards, because now some of the releases seem to be taken just from the CD mastering tapes and one can clearly hear that. Another remark that should be mentioned is regarding the diversity in Vinyl appearance, because you never know what to expect. In the past and especially during the 1980s records were almost only released on the well-known black vinyl format, which is by far the best sounding format for Vinyl. However, the new releases seem to be coming in all kinds of colours (orange, blue, pink…) and then there are the PICTURE DISCS… it all looks very nice, but personally I prefer the good old fashioned black appearance, because that provides the best possible sound quality and does not make you go confused when looking at the turntable as the record is making its 33 inch spinning!
Concluded, we still have a long way to go, but the trend is clearly pointing in the right direction, which is an acceptance of the comeback of the vinyl record and more and more new albums are pressed onto it. It only seems that quantity is getting an issue, because there are so many new Vinyl releases done each week, it is hard to get track of every release and also which of them are really quality releases. If anyone actually read my essay here and is interested in more info or in-depth reviews of new vinyl releases, then feel free to sent a message to: Strutterzine@gmail.com also if you have an LP you want to see reviewed by us, please sent a copy and we will always do a full in-depth review...
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