Sunday Sesh: Have you ever gotten into a band because of a Greatest Hits collection?

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Look, I don’t generally like box sets any more than the rest of you; the fact that legacy bands like Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses churn out endless greatest hits collections to sap more and more money from hapless suckers is an unfortunate byproduct of metal’s collective material compulsion, and I can almost guarantee each of you has silently judged a normie who only has a 25-year anniversary collection album of your favorite band on his iPod. But, friends, I have a confession. I like Vader explicitly because of the aforementioned 25th anniversary collection (I promise I’ve gone back to collect more of their stuff since first getting my grubby mitts on XXV). To that end, I argue that retrospectives, if not churned out in perpetuum, can provide excellent entry points for new fans, and, on occasion, include some excellent rarities for the astute collector. So in this Sunday Sesh, I’m asking you to bear your poser cards: Have you ever gotten into a band because of a Greatest Hits collection?

This question popped into my mind after I opened my email to find that the friendly Toilet reptile had sent me a promo for a new compilation of tracks, titled Decayed, from London doom/black metal/death metal/melodeath hustlers De Profundis. Despite having an apparently decent international following, if the EPK is to be believed, the name is new to me. In the band’s short, ten-year career, they’ve already released four full-lengths and an EP, refining their songcraft and sharpening their riffs (if the Metal Archives review scores are to be believed). When your time is limited and new releases keep hammering your door, demanding attention lest you somehow fall behind in your underground cred, diving immediately into a five album screening is a daunting prospect. A curated, ten track list of the finest morsels from that buffet seems the perfect way to allow new listeners to grow to love a band’s sound, especially if those tracks span a career featuring as many twists and turns as De Profundis’s seems to entail.

So have De Profundis won me over with this compilation? …maybe. As it turns out, my two favorite tracks from the collection, “The Mourner” and “Nihilism Vortex,” are from the band’s allegedly doomier (allegedly because it doesn’t sound much like doom to my ears) and less highly regarded albums. “The Mourner” features an instant hook with its somber, Eastern acoustics leading into a progressive, bottom-heavy melodic track. “Nihilism Vortex” is equally impressive (both tracks clock in past ten minutes each), cycling through a series of riff developments into a truly jaw-dropping melodic interplay at the finale. Choosing to end the compilation with two long, progressive tracks from the band’s earlier output was a bold move, but it worked sufficiently to display both their evolution and to intrigue me enough to go back and check out those earlier records. Well played, De Profundis.

What makes this compilation especially cool is that it functions essentially as a free love letter to fans old and new. Over the band’s ten-year career, they’ve received continual support from metal rag Zero Tolerance MagazineAs thanks for all that support, Decayed is being offered for free physically with issue 79 of the magazine. It’s a genuinely cool gesture that shows the bond between different members of the community, and it further spreads the band’s exposure with a brand new track called “An Orgy Of Grotesqueries.” If the idea of a greatest hits has you also intrigued, you can check out that new track below.

If you want to hear the compilation, you’ll have to track down a copy of Zero Tolerance. Otherwise, you can start with the tracks here, helpfully brought to my attention by the Decayed collection, and then dive deeper into the band’s Bandcamp page. They even encourage you to download for free the Frequencies EP, a four-track banger sure to delight melodeath heads, so if you’re into tasty riffs with soulful harmonies, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Now I want to hear from you. Have you gotten into an artist from a compilation? Sound off in the comments below.

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  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I refuse to use greatest hits collections. I usually figure out what I like of certain bands after listening to all their work.

    • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

      THEY WUZ MOAR HANDY IN CAVEMAN TIMES FROM BEFORE INTERNET MOOZIK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I’m sure they were.

      • GoatForest

        Remember the Relapse and Century Media samplers? I loved the Firestarter collection.

    • Dumpster Lung

      I don’t do greatest hit compilations on purpose either. Back before I was really going online to find things it worked out nicely a couple of times, but otherwise I would much rather just pick a good starting album and go from there. It’s not often, but with some bands I do like to make a big mix of favorite songs. Usually I just go with full albums though, so greatest hits albums wouldn’t be ideal anyway.

    • Eliza

      Listening to every album a band has released is actually my favorite way of listening to music, but I do it very seldom.

    • The Arm(KJM)

      In Ye Olden Dayes that meant you had to buy every album unless you already knew somebody who had them.

      • Eliza

        Glad I’m living now and not in Ye Olden Dayes.

        • The Arm(KJM)

          In Ye Olden Dayes I spent $15 to see the World Slavery Tour. Just sayin’.

          • Eliza

            Just like everything else, Ye Olden Dayes had both good parts and bad parts.

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            & VINYL COSTED LIKE $8!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW THEY LIKE $20-$30!!!!!!!!

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            Adjusted for inflation, $8 in the 80’s was like $20 nowadays

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            Adjusted for inflation, $15 in 1984 would be like $35 in 2017. Considering I paid around $50 to see them a couple of weeks ago, and Maiden being a much more established band nowadays, it makes sense

          • The Arm(KJM)

            However, that $50 probably got you a lawn ticket/nosebleed seat. That $15 back then got me a Loge section ticket, the equivalent today would cost closer to $70-80.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            It wasn’t lawn, but I do concede that it wasn’t anywhere close to the stage

          • The Arm(KJM)

            Lawn tix for Maiden at Xfinity Center are $45 including fees.

          • Óðinn
          • The Arm(KJM)

            During the 1980s Massachusetts had laws against using pyro indoors. That was the one problem with seeing arena shows back in those days.

        • more beer

          In Ye Olden Dayes it was much more personal. You had to work at being a metalhead. You traded tapes with people all over, bands would all be at shows handing out their demos so you got to know them. You learned about new bands through actually talking to like minded people. It is much easier to find music now with the internet. But at the same time you miss out on that personal touch.

          • Eliza

            I see how someone would miss this aspect, but not being all that good at that socializing thing myself, I can’t say I’m sorry for that not being the case anymore.

          • The Arm(KJM)

            That’s why dressing the part was important back then. You could see somebody in a Iron Maiden or Motorhead shirt and start a conversation with them and, if they weren’t a total asshole, you just made a new friend.

          • Eliza

            A guy starting to talk to me because I had a Maiden shirt actually happened to me once at an open air cinema.

          • more beer

            Back then you would have learned to be more social. It was how things were back then.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            I wish things had been that way for me. I’d ended up being a lot less awkward and I’d probably be friends with a lot of bands

          • more beer

            Different times. I do know a lot of people because of that. Most people have a period in their lives when they are kind of awkward socially. Most get past it and are fine.

          • ya, social awkwardness can be remedied with exposure. just like with doges.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            I probably would have gotten laid a lot more if I had been forced to be more social

          • same here d00d. when i was young it was only nerds on the Internet. now everyone is and it’s easier for socially awkward folks to meet up 😉

          • more beer

            That should have been motivation in itself.

          • GoatForest

            Fair enough.

          • The Arm(KJM)

            And if you didn’t live near a major city it was much harder to find records/tapes, magazines, and like minded people.

          • more beer

            I was trading tapes with people all over the country. They were out there you just had to work a little harder back then.

          • The Arm(KJM)

            I just had to walk 20 minutes to Harvard Sq to get whatever metal stuff I needed. I was lucky.

          • more beer

            Yea I had a few good record stores within walking distance. I would spend hours in them.

          • The Arm(KJM)

            There was this guy(Taper Tony) who had all kinds of live shows, not just Metal. I’d trade Maxell 10 packs for live shows.

          • more beer

            I was never that into taped live shows, the sound quality was usually pretty crappy. But that was a good deal. Enjoy the rest of your day. I gotta run some errands, then go to a show at 2:00. I never heard of the bands, but I am gonna meet up with some friends and get blazed.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            That is one thing that definitely sucks nowadays. Record stores are just disappearing, and the ones that remain have reduced their music stock considerably to make way for toys, shirts and God knows what other crap

          • more beer

            I think it depends where you live. While there are less of them the ones that remain tend to have a pretty good selection. We have a bunch of them in and around Denver.

          • GoatForest

            Absolutely. It made you take your time and really absorb the music. On the other hand, it used to be really easy to miss good music. I discovered Watain by happenstance on some random sampler.

          • more beer

            I think that depended where you lived. Being in the vicinity of NYC it was always easy to find new stuff.

          • GoatForest

            That’s fair. I lived in rural Louisiana, so my little brother was the only other metalhead I knew.

          • more beer

            Yea there were a lot of metalheads where I was. So everyone was turning each other onto new shit they found.

      • Óðinn
  • Jeff Manteiga

    Iced Earth – The Blessed and the Damned. Lol!

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Yeah, I got into Iced Earth after hearing “Days Of Purgatory”

  • The Arm(KJM)

    Sold Our Souls For Rock N Roll, had it when I was 14.

    • more beer

      While owned that back in the day it wasn’t my introduction to them tat was Master of Reality. The only other greatest hits I have ever owned is No Remorse.

      • The Arm(KJM)

        The first time I ‘d heard Sabbath at all was the 1st album years earlier. I also vaguely remember hearing Paranoid as well.
        I still have my vinyl copy of No Remorse.

        • more beer

          I had them both on cassette they both got played until they wore out.

      • Óðinn

        You had to buy No Remorse because it had four new songs. And also, it was Motorhead. Why wouldn’t you buy it?

        • more beer

          Most greatest hits don’t have 4 new songs, but most of them I probably already had the songs in one form or another.

    • Óðinn
  • Akira Watts

    Discovered both Venom and Death via those Relativity Records compilations – Book of Armageddon and Fate, respectively.

  • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ
    • Eliza

      I find listening to live albums very weird. Like, if I’m not watching the performance, I’d rather listen to the studio version.

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        Bands sometimes sound better live than in the studio. I actually enjoy the live version of “Thus Spake…” from Emperial Live Ceremony (that Gorak posted) a lot more than the studio version

        • Eliza

          I see what you mean, for me it’s a matter of habit I guess.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Not a fan of compilations in general, but for some of the more underground bands (that sometimes didn’t even release a full length) it’s really cool when their work – mostly EP’s or demo’s – gets released in the form of a compilation. And it’s pretty impressive to hear how these compilations actually work as full length albums.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73U2di5Cikw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBikqjb-6MQ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vltFjJqrzRc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAk4M_gNJt4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyI3qqEONyo

    • Dubby Fresh

      Yah, that’s a pretty cool thing. Think of the Timeghoul discography collection.

      I bet Biolich could make a killing if they’d drop something like that.

    • GoatForest

      Messiah. Messiaaah!

  • Dumpster Lung

    I have definitely gotten into some major bands that way, most notably Iron Maiden and Rush. Not that I wouldn’t have loved them had I heard any of the albums first, but besides Tom Sawyer on the radio, and maybe Limelight, I heard a mix CD a friend in high school made. Not an official compilation, but it had several of the hits for sure. With Maiden my first exposure was Best of the Beast, which was a great way to get into them.

    In the piracy/blog realm circa 2005-2008, somewhere in there, I remember seeing several compilations called Metal Museum, and each was dedicated to a subgenre, like thrash, melodeath, etc. Found a few cool bands that way, but I didn’t remember to follow up on most of them at the time.

  • Never got into a band from a greatest hits comp, but got into plenty of bands from metal compilations like Blackend and whatever that one put out by Nuclear Blast circa ’99 was called.

    The only compilation album I ever bought was for Faith No More. Bought it for the two unreleased tracks.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      “The Perfect Crime” is actually one of their best songs

      • “I Won’t Forget You” (I think that’s the name) is one of my favorites.

    • SomeGuyDude

      Relapse did a bunch of them as well. That’s how I discovered Mastodon back the Remission days.

  • Lord of Bork

    Greatest hits, no. Compilation, yes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SYRYW0PEII

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I first had a good listen to Alice in Chains through a best of/greatest hits album. That was around when I was 16 and I really loved them when I finally got the proper albums. Was one of a few helpful spurs to my shedding my nu metal fandom too. Generally these collections are not my thing at all though, even if a band only has a few hits that I really enjoy. I feel like any song is always going to work best in its proper or original context.

    De Profundis are good stuff, one of those quietly beavering acts that can satisfy on record and bring it live but haven’t quite found their killer instinct or wave to ride yet. A quality support, or mid-day at a festival band.

  • Eliza

    I’ve never gotten into a band through a greatest hits collection. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up with the Internet and I could use Youtube to find new music.

  • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

    Call me a poser, but there has been lots of bands that the first album I ever bought from them was a compilation: Rush, Bad Religion, Alice In Chains, Megadeth, Cathedral, Hypocrisy, Misfits, Kreator, R.E.M., Swans, just off the top of my head. With all of those bands I liked what I heard and ended up exploring the rest of their catalog.

    Also, compilations are useful for bands that you like a couple of songs, have large discographies with the songs you enjoy scattered all over them, and you don’t like them enough to buy their entire catalog: in my case, Kiss and Lita Ford come to mind.

  • i understand greatest hits’ importance to music. but i also don’t liek that any Queen greatest hits compilation is going to contain their worst material (sorry, occasional elitist here). also, there’s nothing worse than trimming a song down in length for a comp (see: Pink Floyd).

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Pink Floyd is definitely an album band. A PF compilation is just ludicrous

      That being said, I actually enjoy Type O Negative’s The Least Worst Of. Despite the trimmed down songs, it has a lot of cool unreleased tracks and alternate versions to make it worthwhile

      • Al Bvndy

        that moment that you realise that Christian Woman has like 5 extra minutes…

        • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

          I actually purchased Bloody Kisses long before TLWO, so that didn’t happen to me. But I know some people for whom that was definitely the case. They also didn’t know about the sweet jamming riff that opens “Everything Dies”

          • Al Bvndy

            Yeah, I actually got TLWO after I bought World Coming Down so it was a plesent suprise for me when I bought Bloody Kisses.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      And Fleetwood Mac has the same problem as Queen when it comes to compilations. The Peter Green material is often criminally neglected in favor of Stevie Nicks crap

  • Al Bvndy

    So this I probably cliche as fuck but MTV first introduction to Iron Maiden and heavy metal in general was from Best of the Beast – 2 disc addition. A new friend at school let me borrow it in 1997 and it literally changed my life. Previous to metal, my main musical taste was happy hardcore and the like.
    It’s funny to look back, considering that BOTB starts with Blaze Baliey and goes backwards to Di’anno, that I managed to make it through The Sign of the Cross and Virus without giving up.
    My first metal CD purchase was this stone cold classic comp
    https://www.discogs.com/Various-Rock-Metal-Factory/release/3372893

  • GoatForest

    Yep. Best of collections are how I got into both Napalm Death and Carcass.

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    Being young and barely knowing what a “greatest hits” album even meant, I remember this being my intro to the first time I ever heard Motorhead. I remember going to a Black Sabbath show in like 1995, (with Tony Martin singing lol) with them opening before I had ever listened to them before.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2fc34c0f9c0735c92f829a9ab58e292e1e9ebd05692655bcf2f7bdb3440739a0.jpg

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      You saw Tony Martin? Lucky.

      • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

        Yup – I was only a younger teen and only really knew the “We Sold Our Soul…” best of CD. It was during the “Forbidden” tour and I remember him doing a really great job – was a good show, and looking back had quite a few deeper cuts. Got a shirt that I rocked through most of high school too lol.

  • Iamin Cognito

    Only band I can think of that I got into solely via a greatest hits was The Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady. That was probably ten years after it was released, when I began realizing there was music other than metal that was worth hearing.

    • atchdav

      The Payolas greatest hits is also pretty solid. It’s difficult to find any of their albums

  • Óðinn
  • Hans

    Herman’s Hermits

    No, wait, I still don’t own more than their Greatest Hits. Never mind.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    The way I got into the Temptations was via listening to their hits, especially the psychedelic soul era. It’s a shame so many of their albums are out of print.

  • Max

    I can’t say this is the case for me, but looking at the Wikipedia entry for Judas Priest’s Metal Works ’73-’93 and perusing the track list, I’d like to think that had I discovered Priest via that double-CD, it probably would’ve done the trick.

    • Iamin Cognito

      Looking at the tracklist on Wikipedia, there’s nothing on that from the studio version of Sad Wings Of Destiny. That is a fantastic album. It makes up roughly half of Unleashed In The East. If you’ve never heard Sad Wings, and you dig early Priest, I highly recommend you check it out.

      • Max

        I enjoy a few songs each from Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings…, though I must say I get a lower strike rate of songs I like from a ’70s Priest album than I do from an ’80s one – not that they were a bad band back then or anything. It’s more a product of my age.

        Gull Records owns the rights to the first two albums; which is why they couldn’t include any of it on their compilation, except for live versions.

  • NDG

    Indeed. A friend of my older sister heard I was into metal and gave me a tape with Venom “The Singles 80-86” on one side and Death “Scream Bloody Gore” on the other.

    I was 12 at the time and listening to the opening of In League With Satan was the first time music had made me feel uneasy. I liked it.

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/2Z6AuYZkyBM?ecver=2

  • I got a four disc box set from Judas Priest in high school. Multiple years and waves of appreciation have passed since, and they still remain one of my favorites to this day