Prepare your turntable for some heavy rotation bangers vinyl fans, ’cause there’s a killer new record club in town, and you’re gonna want to get your mitts on the band-themed boxes they’re delivering every month. It’s called Bandbox, and it’s the record club that seeks to bring the record store to your front door.
Groove Is In The Bandbox
What’s the big deal you ask?
To put it simply, the words FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE. That’s right, Team Bandbox is now offering a tailor made listening experience each and every month, giving you the chance to fill your monthly box with artists and albums that fit your own personal tastes. And just in case this is the first Bandbox Unboxed piece you’ve clicked on, you should know that Bandbox’s current slate of artists includes the likes of Neil Young, Weezer, Ride, Joy Division/New Order, Johnny Cash, Wilco, and more. And just FYI – last month’s exclusive pressing of Charly Bliss’s Guppy is a stone cold killer.
If you are among the legions of fans out there excitedly reading my vinyl unboxing every month, you know a big time format change has recently come to Bandbox land, and that customizability is the key to their coveted box. And now that Team Bandbox is offering a fully customizable format (via a single artist/album of your choosing) and pairing each album with a “Band Dox” zine full of insight, interviews, and behind the scenes pics of your personally selected artist. As such, you’ll now be able to dig their vinyl+zine treasures for a super reasonable $29 a month. Pro tip: if you sign up today, you’ll get your first box for the unbelievably low price of $14.
And to those who fancy a more deep dive, double album approach fear not, because you can add an additional album to every box for a measly $17. As for what’s in the box for August, get ready to bang your head with a few blokes who enjoy fuel, fire, and other things which they generally desire.
I’m sincerely hoping Bandbox’s customizable experience will help ease the nerves of folks wary of letting a group of complete strangers “surprise” you with artist/album selections every month. Just for the record, you can still choose to be surprised every month if that’s what you prefer. But if you’re still suspect, you should know Bandbox has already setup an exchange program which allows you to swap out records you don’t want for ones you do, so long as they’re available in the archives. Hell, they’ll even let you integrate your Discogs account to ensure they never even offer you something you already have in your collection.
If you’re really, really wary of surprises, you can tap out of your subscription at any time by pressing “pause” on your sub. It’s unlikely you’ll want to “pause” anything once you’ve signed up and experienced Bandbox for yourself. Just know that your Bandbox experience will only be as amazing as you make it. Understood?
Let The Great World Spin
Hopefully, I’ve more than gotten your attention so far. And hopefully, your interest will be peaked further with what’s ahead, ’cause this month’s box does indeed feature Metallica’s classic self-titled shredder from 1991. And I can assure you it’s still as brutal a beast as it was almost 30 years ago. Let’s have a look, shall we?
In case there were any question about the darkness within on Metallica’s 1991 release, the nearly pitch-black cover pretty much speaks for itself.
Metallica – Metallica (1991)
I’m be willing to bet there are two distinct reactions to the information on that hype sticker: those who see those staggering sales numbers of Metallica, and raged at the one-time lords of the heavy metal underground “selling out,” and those who read the tracks listed and marvel that so many absolutely classic Metallica tracks actually appeared on the same album. I’m not here to tell those of you in the first category that you’re wrong. I get it. Throughout the ’80s, Metallica literally was heavy metal, and the four albums they released prior to 1991’s Metallica forged a path for every single metal band that came after them. You invariably felt like you lost your icons when Metallica unexpectedly found favor with the masses.
But I can tell you that Metallica is nowhere near the “sell out” album many die hard Metallica fans have made it out to be. Sure, several of the albums singles surprised the metal world by becoming big time radio hits in the early-90s. And yes, the band has sold a gazillion copies of Metallica in the years since it. Regarding the radio-friendly nature of those hit singles, I’d simply offer that was more a reflection of the dramatically changing nature of popular music in the early-90s than any legitimate softening of Metallica’s edge. As for the shockingly robust sales numbers, well I categorically refuse to write a band off just because average joes start buying their album, and I’m all but certain Metallica was as surprised by the album’s overwhelmingly positive reception as anyone.
In all honesty, the massive sales numbers, and radio hits, and all around goodwill that accompanied Metallica upon the release of their self-titled masterwork (and I’m using that word in all seriousness) remains a genuine rock & roll paradox … if only because it remains a first-rate, pitch-black heavy metal riot boasting more shredding than your average head bangers ball. One rife with skull-splitting solos, ferociously primal growling, and scathing ruminations on death, destruction, and soul-consuming isolation.
Does Metallica rage as hard as 1983’s Kill ‘Em All? Certainly not. Does it blitz win the wildly kinetic fashion of 1984’s Ride The Lightning or 1986’s Master of Puppets? Probably not. And I’m certainly not here to claim Metallica has even an ounce of the furiously raging anguish on display throughout 1988’s …And Justice For All (which remains as perfect a heavy metal album as as has ever been recorded). I will, however, be quite happy to claim Metallica is the perfect symbiosis of every Metallica record that came before it. And it’s my personal belief is that Metallica is also the album in which the band actually figured out what it meant to write songs that stand without booming drum kicks, and face-melting licks.
Sure, all of those elements are in play throughout 1991’s Metallica, but there’s a confidence in the songwriting throughout the album that always seemed doomed to play second fiddle to speed shredding and tongue-flitting fury on the band’s first four releases. That confidence is present even from the opening track on Metallica “Enter Sandman,” (which remains as iconic an album opener as any song in history), and carries through such unabashed bangers as “Sad But True,” “Wherever I May Roam,” and the caustic one-two punch that is “The God That Failed” and “My Friend Misery.” Of the album’s sobering anti-ballads “The Unforgiven” and “Nothing Else Matters” (complete with jaw-dropping orchestral arrangements), I’ll simply say those songs are so concisely written, they very nearly overshadow the metal-mania running rampant over Metallica‘s other 10 offerings.
As it is, they punctuate the full measure of heavy metal brains and braun that went into Metallica‘s making. No matter what’ become of the band in the years since, 1991’s Metallica was, is, and ever shall be the album James and Lars and the rest of the gang were fated to make. And if you just can’t get over the fact that it sold a gazillion copies world wide, well, you’re doomed to continue missing out on a singular document of a band at the height of their creative and commercial zenith … not to mention a heavy metal masterpiece for the ages.
A Cardboard Box For Sharing Music
In case you couldn’t tell, Bandbox is all about living up to that, “a cardboard box for sharing music” definition. As the focus of each month’s box is hardcore customizability, they’ve taken the opportunity to beef up their killer “Band Dox” zines with more pictures, interviews, and insightful artist breakdowns. Which means readers are set to dive deeper into your chosen artist’s history than ever before.
At this point in history, Metallica is one of those bands that even casual fans know the bulk of their backstory (i.e. tragic losses, meteoric rise to rock super-stardom, and struggles with the perilous ups/downs that come such success) but Team Bandbox has still packed “Band Dox” #20 with a few diamonds about the band and their legacy. For instance, I did not know Lars Ulrich’s Dad was a pro tennis star back in Denmark, which is sort of fascinating on a lot of levels. Anyway, there’s far more to discover in this month’s “Band Dox,” so let’s go ahead and have a look behind that oh-so appropriate cover shot.
I know, I know. This is a f**king vinyl unboxing and I haven’t even given a glimpse of the waxy goodness inside this month’s box. We’ll get there, I assure you. Before we do, there’s we should really have a quick look at this little insert that’s in there with those discs, ’cause if you’ve ever wanted to scream your head off along with James and Lars and the boys, this lyric sheet will ensure you’re screaming all the right words.
There’s also a matter of the digital download card inside as well. And I can confirm beyond all doubt that, while Metallica is ideally heard via vinyl, it’s a pretty damn good album to crank through your ear buds as well. Also, one simply has to admire Metallica’s dedication to the blackness of this album, even going all in on that download card to boot.
Just in case there was any doubt, you’d better believe those discs are black as night too.
Yes, the plural disc(s) is accurate.
And yeah, Metallica is undoubtedly going to bring some serious heavy metal thunder to your Summer.
It’s the Bandbox You Want, And The Bandbox You Need
Look, the so-called “vinyl boom” is not gonna fade away anytime soon. If you’re one of the many who have found themselves giddily wrapped up in the madness, you’re already aware there are a million and one different options for getting your hands on some sweet, sweet wax. While I’d always encourage you to shop first at your local record store, I also understand that subscription vinyl clubs are an excellent way to help fill in/round out your growing collection.
If you’re looking to round out that collection a little sooner than later, a vinyl club that’s down to send you one, or even two worthy records every month is a pretty good way to do it. With Bandbox delivering high-quality pressings of albums by popular artists, they’re giving you a chance to both grow your collection with lust-worthy popular discs and discover deep dive delights you might previously have overlooked. That savvy mix of quality and variety should make it easy for diehard vinyl fans and newbs alike to board the Bandbox bandwagon. Make sure you get on board today!
A huge THANKS to the folks at Bandbox for sponsoring this subscription. If you like what you’ve seen here, you can head over to the official Bandbox website and sign up to have a sexy new Bandbox delivered to your own front door every single month. Be sure to check back in and see what goodies the Bandbox team sends our way next month!