I was thinking the other day about the old days of searching for metal music. In the 80’s, it was not hard to get to the metal section of a record store, because the popular charting music was “metal” like. (Hair bands, etc.) The only problem with that is the mis-categorization of Bon Jovi as “metal.” They’re not even hard rock. But I digress. Music was only available via mailorder (some of which would be considered dodgy even today) and what the local shop could buy for you and import. I didn’t have enough money to do that when I was younger, so I was relegated to used vinyl and the occasional import (from Japan, which cost an arm and a leg.) But the key was, most metal information was only available from a pen pal or a magazine (and not all of the magazines would put information about new Helloween or Gamma Ray). I figured most European metal was going to be stuck in Europe unless I scored a shedload of money or a trip there. Back when the dollar was strong, I could’ve cleaned up (even with shipping), had I enough dollars to cover the albums. But it was a rewarding experience getting a used record of an EP from Helloween (like Dr. Stein) from Germany. Otherwise it was domestic metal. And if you only cursorily loved Hair Metal (Twisted Sister, Dokken, and Quiet Riot were my limits), you usually went home with no new records/cassettes.
But then something wonderful happened. The Internet was born. And long before the web, the exchange of information and mix tapes between continents were so much easier to coordinate (though the old back-page ad days were still good for obscure metal that might or might not break in the future.) This was before MP3’s and the sharing of actual music was still done in the analog world (with digital expediency.) I enjoyed finding new music from Finland or Norway, solely contingent upon the other folks knowing English (or enough English to get name/address/cost). After the Internet, there was a WHOLE world of 2nd-tier Power Metal and albums that were long since out of print here in the States. I found Helloween’s first EP and the European version of Walls of Jericho thanks to the Internet.
The one thing the Internet has done is show me that there are a LOT of bands out there, and far more than I’ve ever dreamed there would be. It has also made it possible to hear if the music is good before buying. (Something I like quite a bit.) There is lots of chaff in the tubes… but finding the good stuff is fairly easy if you know what to look for. The only thing I miss from the old days that the Internet has killed off are used CD shops. They had some gems in there (I got the original mix of “The Wall” on CD at a used shop, and well, now I know why the vinyl was better until they re-mixed it.) Keep your ears peeled, folks. The Internet is chock full of music. (And it’s not RIAA approved. So it doesn’t suck.)