Two Years of the Blog Of Much Metal

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It has now been two years since I began this heavy metal blog following intense pressure from some circles. What started as an exercise in quieting the mob has blossomed into a labour of love and something I am very passionate about. Over the two years, I have been able to write material based on music that is very personal to me and it has also allowed me to support subjects, bands and events that I believe are worth shouting about.

Writing for Powerplay magazine is great, but I’m constricted to writing what the Editor requires of me. With this blog, there are no such constraints. No word limits, no subject is off-limits and no deadlines loom over my head. However, it also means that with a small family and a full-time job to pay the bills, I’m not as prolific as I would like to be. Sure, I could regurgitate news from the Internet here or I could post links to other sites. But I think it is more important for me to write posts that are 100% unique and exclusive to this site. As such, if you want to read my rambling posts, you have to come to the Blog Of Much Metal. Simple as that.

I must be doing something right, too. The viewing figures are not going to worry the more established on-line presences but I’m proud of the fact that I have had over 62,000 hits from readers across 125 countries. It means that my 128 posts to date average over 480 views each. It’s not bad, but I want to do better and that’s part of my motivation to continue – to engage with more and more people and to therefore better support the bands in the world of rock and heavy metal that need that support.

In due course, I hope to redesign the blog and make it ever-more inviting. However, for the time being and until time allows, I thought I would offer a round-up of my posts over the past couple of years. An easy, one-stop-shop where the majority of my articles can be accessed should you be new to my blog or an existing visitor that may have missed an article or two here and there.

The Man Of Much Metal

I began the blog with a few articles to give readers an insight into me, personally. How I got into the world of heavy metal in the beginning and the journey that I took to get to where I am today. Following on from a brief intro piece, I split my music listening life into three, exploring my early years, the University years and the post-university years. AS far as live music goes, I offer a post about my gig-going experiences, linked to which is an article about my obsession with heavy metal t-shirts, particularly those with tour-dates on the back.

In something of a brave move, I admit to a few skeletons that lurk in my musical cupboard. Plus, I also commit myself to my Top 5 Albums of all-time as well as my favourite gig of all time. I also discuss my obsession with collecting CDs, the excitement I still feel leading up to an anticipated new release and I admit to a few bands that I should like, but don’t really ‘get’. We all have them, and these are mine.

The most personal of all of my posts deals with my late brother. He was the reason I got into writing about music in the first place and six years after his tragic passing at the age of 26, he still remains a big inspiration to me. Click here if you’d be interested in reading more.

On the subject of writing, I have also written a couple of posts on this topic, outlining how I got into amateur journalism in the first place via Powerplay, a ‘behind the scenes’ look at life as a writer, a look at some of the ‘heroes’ that I have met and interviewed over the years and also a discussion over the pro’s and con’s of this hobby.

Social commentary or ranting?

I have also indulged in a few ‘social commentary’-type articles, or perhaps they can be more accurately referred to as ranting posts. Within this section, you may wish to check out my thoughts on the decline of the independent record store, the increase of heavy metal attire within modern fashion trends, dealing with living in the middle of nowhere in terms of live music and my take on that most heavy metal of things, the album intros, outros and instrumental interludes.

If you’re feeling a little feisty, you may wish to check out my thoughts on album reissues, where the same disc is re-hashed time and time again. Or, how about a full-on rant at a rare few within the music industry?

On a lighter note, I have also written about those bands that support the headline act but which have impressed me to the point that I am now a fan of their music. It is quite rare these days, but it still happens. And, to finish this section off, I also comment on the fans of this wonderful genre of music, the ‘heavy metal family’.

Exposing the important stuff that needs exposure

One of the most rewarding parts of my blog has been with regard to giving exposure to bands that I personally love but that, for one reason or another, have not had the success that they deserve. Of course, success can be measured in a number of ways and I’m not suggesting that album sales are the only marker of a band’s popularity. But there are bands that toil away, release great albums full of wonderful music and yet fail to get the same level of recognition as others. If I can, via a blog post, increase the awareness of these artists just a little bit, then the effort is worthwhile.

Top of the pile here are two in-depth, detailed appraisals of two very special bands, namely Evergrey and Haken. If you want to know more about either, hear some of their music and wonder why they are favourites of mine, check them out!

In this section under the banner of my ‘Unknown & Underrated’ series, you can read in-depth overviews of some important bands to me including Omnium Gatherum, Shadow Gallery, Redemption, Wolverine, Darkwater, Subsignal and Agalloch.

In addition, there are some smaller articles looking at other bands, which can be accessed here, but may be expanded upon in the future. Featured bands include: Bal Sagoth, Darkane, Everon and Hecate Enthroned among many others.

Away from the band specific posts, I have also offered my thoughts on the best festivals that the UK has to offer as well as throwing the spotlight on my favourite festival of all, Progpower Europe.

Then there are the posts that I have recently embarked upon, which look at some of the countries that are worthy of much kudos for the quality of music that they manage to produce. Consequently, there’s a focus on Australia as well as a whole series around the Scandinavian countries. This is currently a work in progress, although the overall introduction is complete, as is my in-depth look at the magnificent country of Iceland.

Album reviews

More recently, I have begun to write a few reviews for albums that I am not asked to cover at Powerplay. Again, word limits are not an issue and so I find that I’m able to offer more detailed analyses on the music. A list of published reviews is as follows:

James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Plus, there’s also a live review of a brilliant Haken gig to enjoy too!

Interviews

Interviews are a relatively recent addition to the blog and, given the current size of this site, have occasionally been hard to come by. Nevertheless, not one to be deterred, I have hunted a few interviews out and have had the pleasure to chat with UK prog rockers Maschine and Jonas Renkse and Bruce Soord about their project, Wisdom Of Crowds.

Most recently however, I have also interviewed Evergrey in what has turned out to be one of the best pieces that I have ever put my name to. I’m very proud of this piece and if there’s only one link you click via this article, I suggest humbly that it’s this one!

The ‘best of’ lists

Over the past two years, I have been very fond of putting together lists. It appeals to my inner geek and also helps to recommend bands, albums and genres of music to people that may be unfamiliar to them.

The biggest and most comprehensive of these lists are my ‘end of year best of’ round-ups. So far, there’s my ‘Top 20 of 2012’ and my ‘Album Of The Year 2013’ top 20, both of which feature one band per post and count down from 20, offering an album review, artwork and sample tracks. Therefore, if you want to know which albums I considered to be the best over the past two years, check them out!

2013 also saw me commenting on a few of the best live albums released during the year.

And, finally, there are those series of posts that round up the best albums that failed to make my Top 20 lists, both from 2012 and 2013.

Putting this post together makes me realise just how much I’ve managed to cram in over the past couple of years. I hope that there’s something within all this that is of interest to you. Please feel free to comment or criticise too and, if you have a topic you’d like covered, shout. I can only say no! Thanks to you all for supporting this venture of mine & here’s to the next two years. Cheers!

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