Heavy metal, as a singularly fringe interest, relies on both word of mouth and consumer acquisition for its spread and success. Metal fans are perhaps the most loyal base of any genre of music, and therefore seem to be the most likely to obsessively hoard physical copies of beloved albums. I’ve known many a metalhead who has, over the course of his or her lifetime, slowly metamorphosed into an anthropomorphic dragon sitting atop a treasure trove of limited edition releases and box sets, breathing a noxious fire of hot pocket breath to repel intruders into their dank layers. Even the most miserly among us cannot resist the allure of unique, gimmicky releases, nor can we refuse to put down our sides when there’s an online purchasing battle to be won. Sometimes, though, these battles can end in defeat. How do you cope with the tragedy of being unable to find that rare issue of a long disbanded obscure French death metal band? If you’re anything like me, these five stages of grief should hold no surprises for you.
Last Saturday, our pal Lacertilian tagged me in a post in the Facebook group that he described as a hauntingly melodic fusion of second wave black metal atmosphere and crushing old school death metal riffs. The band in question: France’s Lovecraft-obsessed Catacomb. After pressing play on the video below, a YouTube rip of 1993’s In the Maze of Kadath, I was immediately taken with the stark, ethereal piano intro that acts as the prelude to the otherworldly, draconian death metal and the clammy, foggy tone. This EP, one of only two official releases from the band, is the perfect blend of alien brutality and clever hooks to make this one of the more unique releases in the OSDM grimoire.
After just a bit of listening, I knew that I needed to purchase this album. Unfortunately, though, this EP is no longer pressed, and the 1000 limited copies are extremely difficult to track down. In my search to acquire this rare and most excellent pressing, I came to know a deep distress that each of you has surely felt in your desire to claim some special piece of music.
“Surely I can find this album on Discogs or through a distro like Dark Descent. No way one of those limited 1000 copies isn’t floating around somewhere. I just have to find the right combination of keystrokes. Let’s see. Bandcamp? No. Amazon? No. Dark Descent? No. Discogs? Wait, now we have something. Surely they aren’t just selling cassettes.”
“Are you freaking kidding me? Only cassettes! This is the dumbest thing? Who the hell still buys cassettes. I blame all the crusties and the meme crowd for making an outdated, obsolete piece of media somehow stupidly relevant again. It’s their fault I can’t find this album in a format a vehicle made after 1991 can play. Who still drives vehicles with cassette players anyway? These people are stupid. Everything is stupid. Just sell me this album on a got dang CD or record!”
“Look, I need to have a copy of this. Maybe I can convince Dark Symphonies to reissue. I’ll gladly trade my soul for a rare limited edition vinyl record. SHOOT! I sold my soul last month for a donut. MMMM forbidden donut. Could I sell someone else’s soul for it? I don’t think the lizard is using his. I wonder what the exchange rate for Aussie souls is. They have to be devalued slightly. Uggggh. Maybe I’ll just have to hock this slime-covered Morbid Angel album. At least it isn’t the good Morbid Angel record.”
“I am never going to own this. I might as well just forget I ever heard it and go post nihilist memes on Facebook. Life is meaningless if I can’t buy overpriced physical media that’s just going to sit on my shelf, collecting dust and slowly driving a wedge between me and my partner, building resentment between us until one day I come home from work to find all of those expensive records I sold Australian souls for thrown out the window next to my replica Aliens flamethrower and badass katana collection. I embrace the void.”
“I am just glad someone ripped this to YouTube. Though I may never be able to actually hold this rare, obscure, and not particularly significant piece of death metal history, I can take solace in the fact that someone with looser morals than I ripped the album to the internet that I might enjoy it. I may never be able to fill this oddly consumerist hole in my heart, but at least I can put this YouTube rip on repeat while I crucify that mf like button on Facebook, pretending I’m working but instead dreaming of all the other albums I want to purchase to somehow validate my own artistic taste and thereby find stature in a niche, inconsequential scene.”
Good news, though. This particular story did not in fact end in tragedy. I was able to locate a new limited pressing of this EP plus The Lurker at the Threshold EP direct from the label for the very reasonable price of $12 plus shipping and handling. My life may continue, nihilist-memeless, and my Australian friend may keep his soul.
Have you ever faced the inescapable grief of an incomplete collection? What rare but actually worthless piece of metal merch are you trying to track down? Let us know in the comments below.