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