Editorial: The Year in Reviews for 2007
Since launching PiercingMetal.com back in early 2005 I’ve made sure to get one of these editorials done annually as a means to not only look back on the previous years Metal activity but to also offer some insight into the things that lie ahead. As a web presence for the genre that we all hold near and dear, I’m happy to report that PiercingMetal.com has grown exponentially since the idea first dawned on me. The original premise that we began with was based on the need to tie all of my writing together yet it was only a few months after launching that I came to realize that it would become my primary focus as a means to deliver as much Metal information as the readers could absorb. I feel fortunate to be the overseer of this little enterprise and based on the things that we heard and the adventures we had in 2007 it’s time for us to take a trip back into the not so distant past. As in our previous editorials we have divided the commentary into areas of focus as this allows us to form some easier frame of reference. 2007 was quite the musical ride across all genre aspects and I found this to be a positive sign of change as Metal continues to claim ground and prove the naysayers incorrect as to its place in popular media. Let’s begin our examination shall we?
CD’s: To say that Metal had a banner year in 2007 would probably be the biggest understatement that one could make based on the astounding number of important and breakthrough releases that were presented to the fans. It’s an impossible task to line them all out but to name a few we found the return of Nightwish, Type-O-Negative and Iced Earth in terms of studio material after a decent amount of years in between their last release. Each band had their reasons why this was the case but it was indeed nice to see these groups returning and presenting new, exciting music to the fans. Some of my own favorites over the course of the year in studio efforts alone included the three that we mentioned but also Epica, After Forever, Dream Theater, Kamelot, Dimmu Borgir, HIM and Rush but I will have to stop here or this list will go on for another ten pages. Of course in Internet space that hardly matters but we do want to keep this moving along and not have the readers falling asleep. One thing that should be noted about the mass influx of CD product on the market is the continually decreasing support from the brick and mortar establishments. The end of 2006 saw the bankruptcy and closure of the long venerated Tower Records and across 2007 we saw less and less in the way of physical music product being advertised in outlets like Best Buy and Circuit City. Of course they still sell the stuff but the configuration and presentation is far different than what it had been only a few short years ago. Fans are using online services to sate their Metal hungers and have been hitting Amazon.com as well as I-Tunes.
DVD’s: “I Want My DVD” could have been the mantra of Metal fans and the bands we love in 2007 for a literal ton of great stuff came out on DVD during the year. It seems to be almost a common practice that when a popular band completes their tour that a full-length DVD will be released to forever remind those who went or to satisfy the sadness in those who could not attend. We saw this with Megadeth, Iron Maiden and probably the most notable of the year Heaven and Hell. The reunion of the Black Sabbath lineup that was fronted by Ronnie James Dio had its New York City show on DVD and CD only a few months after the show had been done. This kind of turnaround captures the fire of the performance perfectly and many of the films present the entire show with minor edits. We also saw not one, but two career spanning KISS DVD sets and the release of two full seasons of Gene Simmons’s reality program “Family Jewels”. Classic legacy video footage from bands like Dokken, Ratt and Twisted Sister all resurfaced on comprehensive DVD’s during the year and featured several individual VHS releases on a single volume. It made the old school fans jump for joy at the chance to dump all of their old tapes and replace them with DVD’s and let’s hope for more of these releases in 2008. There was also a considerable amount of CD product re-issued with bonus DVD’s that offered the buyer an either unreleased concert or band documentary and videos. Whatever the case may be the reasons to purchase these films increased exponentially and the sign of them continuing shows no sign of stopping – just look at the ever growing music video section of your favorite retailer. While the CD sections seem to lessen, the video side is steadily increasing.
Books & Events Sections: These two areas of review focus are not new to the site by any means but since the site launch have lived in the area lined out as “Reviews-Other”. As we moved into 2008 we realized that this was no longer the best option for the articles and have created sections that are much more suited to their presentation. Biographies and photo history tomes of the bands and genres do not show any sign of stopping, nor do band appearances and album listening gatherings so we hope that you enjoy this change as much as we do. As with all of our reviews these books and events articles will feature relevant Amazon.com or I-Tunes links whenever it is possible to include it.
Concerts: Let’s see those lighters people – or by the looks of it these days perhaps I should say “let’s see those cell-phone and PDA displays people”. So when I wrote the editorial for 2006 and realized that I had covered some 53 shows and at a minimum witnessed about 150 bands I swore up and down, left and right, and even diagonally that I would never see this many bands and shows in the course of a single year ever again. Legions I am happy to report that we kept true to that oath in 2007 and instead of seeing 53 shows we caught a grand total of 65. As far as the total sum of the individual bands seen and photos that were taken, well the Piercing Mainframe has not yet tabulated that incredible number outside of telling me that it was a hell of a lot. Many of the shows covered occurred at the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill and their recently opened sister club The Highline Ballroom. So many in fact that Metal fans often felt that they lived there since shows were happening fast and furious with some events being only days apart and finding the diehards needing to be at all of them. My extended kudos goes out to those who are financially brave enough to manage to get to all of these appearances. There were too many bands enjoyed to line out every single one but without question there were some that were a little more special than the others. For instance 2007 found not only the return of Type-O-Negative to the stage but also the long-awaited reunions of Ronnie James Dio and the guys in Black Sabbath and the mighty Van Halen with David Lee Roth in front of the microphone. Those last two shows brought back the glory of the concert appearance as old friends all gathered with the single purpose of rocking out just like many had done in their youth. The ticket pricing for these was a little high so it kept the demographic age of attendee higher as well. My guess is that the younger generation of concert goers would be content with watching the DVD’s. We saw a triumphant NYC return for Kamelot who seems to break attendance records with each visit to the Big Apple and also some bands that had never appeared in the States before or headlined shows here as well. Among these notable rockers came Within Temptation, Virgin Black, Katatonia and Epica. We found a number of bands returning again such as The 69 Eyes, Sonata Arctica, EdGuy, Into Eternity, and Dream Theater while a couple of groups such as Emperor and Immortal made NYC a part of a super limited return. We had the ever present Warped Tour and Bam Margera’s “Bamboozle” bringing new fans a couple of days of new and exciting bands but we did not cover those appearances despite how popular they are becoming.
We did manage to attend the historic free Ozzfest that came through town and yes, you did read that correctly – the event was free to attend. This time around it offered bands that one normally didn’t see on such a festival and I rather liked finding Behemoth and Chthonic alongside the likes of Lordi and the Prince of Darkness. The downside was that many of these shows had dramatics around them that made this quite possibly the only time such an event is free to the public. Overall I have to be honest about concerts in 2007 and say that the touring roster was like that of a who’s who in Metal domination and I would be hard pressed to name a show that I didn’t enjoy when it had all run its course. I felt that attendance was largely positive but at times, depending on the appearance, was a little sporadic and could have found more of the Metal faithful showing up. This was not based on fan disinterest in my opinion, but more based on so many shows happening in immediate sequence. There was one week in September where there were five shows over the course of five days and people very simply had to pick and choose what to see and what to pass on. There were some occasions were promotion could have been better and others where the bands while giants back home have not snared sufficient ground in this region to pack a house. One thing I would like to see more of is the audience gathering early enough to catch all the openers for many of them have been surprisingly good. If you are paying almost $25 for a ticket you might as well get your money’s worth.
The Piercing Calendar: Here is a little secret about the calendar that we have on the site. My initial idea for it was to load it up with shows that I was going to see so I would have an immediate online reference as opposed to fumbling through planners and little scraps of paper. Yet once I saw how it actually Iooked online I expanded the premise to list events that I wanted to see as well. Some of the early site readers made mention to me about how they liked the calendar listing some of these events in one single location and from there I began loading it up with as many of the Hard Rock and Metal events that I knew were occurring. As a web presence that comes to the readers from The Big Apple we have focused on the performances in the greater New York City and surrounding areas. Most of the touring bands make their way through this region and by focusing on the clubs that have most of them we are able to cater to a large concert going base. Since we began doing this other sites have begun to toss their own hat into the mix for their own areas by offering similar graphics while others do it via blogs and mass emailing. It’s great that so many are aiming to keep the attention level of shows on a high mark. We’re proud to continue offering this calendar and expanding on its reach. I have heard the readers telling me how they print it out and carry it around for reference while others plug all that they see into their planners and phones. We like to think that we are not only catering to the Metal concert fans in the area but also helping to generate a little interest in coming to New York based on all that we have going on.
Reflection Upon The Musical Losses of 2007: It would have been great to have nothing to write in this section but alas this not the way it works in life and people do leave us. The music world would lose bassist Paul Raven (Ministry) to a fatal heart attack, Brad Delp (singer from Boston) to carbon monoxide poisoning, Hilly Kristel (founder of CBGB’s) to cancer and perhaps the saddest of all the losses would be Decapitated drummer Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka who would die from injuries sustained in a road collision while travelling to the next show – the Extreme Metal drummer was 23. Another big one was found with the passing of lead singer Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot). The legendary Metal rocker left us based on substances it was soon determined and that was quite the shame and he shall be missed by Old School rockers worldwide. There were more in the non Hard Rock and Metal world but these few had been heavily documented on various boards and news feeds that our demographic visits regularly.
Affiliations: Since Day One PiercingMetal.com has offered the readers the means to purchase the item being reviewed on Amazon.com via their affiliation program and this has been met with incredible response and enthusiasm. Reader interest increased when they realized that any purchase they made via our Amazon.com links offered them the discounts and ability to purchase anything they wanted in addition to music. The other major affiliation implemented is our I-Tunes one and readers are able to access this via the I-Tunes graphic that sits directly below the Amazon.com code on the reviews. The difference in it is that this affiliation launches the Apple I-Tunes store and presents them with everything that is available for the artist including bonus tracks, ring tones and comprehensive back catalog. We’re excited to bring you these major affiliations as well as our continued alliances with Hot Topic, Rhapsody, and Musicians Exchange. All purchases help PiercingMetal.com out with additional discounts from these programs so we continually thank readers for their continued support and use of them.
Statistically Speaking: What’s In a Number Anyway? According to Wikipedia.org, in January of 2007, an Internet monitoring company that tracks Web growth determined that there were approximately 106,875,138 Web sites online with domain names and content on them. That’s an awful lot of web-surfing to do if you plan on searching them all in this lifetime but the bottom line is that each accrues traffic and builds a ranking. By the close of 2007, I am proud to report that PiercingMetal.com has been holding strong to a ranking that falls between 150,000 and 156,000 which we feel is pretty good when one considers the absolute magnitude of other sites out there. Yes, the numbers that Alexa.com generates is a solid number that doesn’t analyze one site from the other but the bottom line that it reports is clear on one thing. Those that visit PiercingMetal.com are remaining, and clicking about on dozens of pages at a time. Being a USA based presence our largest readership seems to be from the states while the top five contenders in terms of countries falls to Brazil, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom. These numbers are great in my humble opinion but we will keep getting content and features and other things that cause you to stick around the site all the more and drive them up each and every time you press your mouse.
Special Thanks To: In 2007 we welcomed the contributions of Steve Bunche, Entertainment Ronin at large, who began offering up insightful commentary on music that was good and that which should be avoided at all costs. Joe Kaufman and Peter Parrella are still helping out but in 2007 found the need to deal with more of the photography and graphic design end while writing when the time allowed. Kudos going to the publicists, labels and venue reps who believe in the way we do things around here and the largest falls to you legions that make up the readership. Many of your number have kept the website profile on your top MySpace friends while others have linked to articles and photo galleries on the forums that you are members of. All of this helps the reach of PiercingMetal.com get to areas that we might not have been able to access otherwise. We appreciate your continuing to keep this in play as well as spreading the word among friends and other believers as you see fit should you continue to enjoy what you are seeing us deliver. We also want to thank those readers who if they notice a show is missing or date has changed and it’s not yet noted on the calendar for calling it to our attention. We add to this calendar regularly, but sometimes miss an announcement or correction and you are serving your fellow Metal heads well by making sure we don’t falter with it. Good work legions.
Hitting 2008: Given that 2008 is already in full swing there isn’t a lot of musing about how I would like to do things in the coming year but suffice to say we have already jumped right into the fray for all types of reviews along with other site content that I am confident you will enjoy. There always seems to be a lot to do on a website like this and sometimes too much but that’s a good thing in the end since it means there is a chance to feature even more. Content posting has become and remained very regular which has found the reader base returning often to see what is going on and while I’ve continued to find photography work in the likes of Metal Edge and Metal Maniacs magazines I have focused all of the writing for PiercingMetal.com since that is my first priority. I launched a “musings” Blog which has become popular with our readers and if you have yet to see it let me explain that it’s a place where I offer up extended and more personal commentary to the musical adventuring that I undertake as the Editor of the site. I hope you come and check that out as well as its fun to let you in on more of the way I view this stuff. I’m sure I will be up to some other things that you will find amusing going forward because while I love to keep your continued interest I have to admit that I also like to keep it fascinating to myself after all the work is said and done. As always I raise the horns in strength to you all for the interest and support of the site on behalf of all who help me do it and for the Metal that motivates me to work harder.
Ken Pierce – Editor In Chief