Deathalizer: It Dwells Within

03Jan10
Cover art for -It Dwells Within-
Cover art for “It Dwells Within”

You thought the bug of lazyness got me for good, huh? Well here’s your answer. A review of an interesting kind: of a metal E.P. (Extended Play, shorter than an album, longer than a track), of a metal band, of free and legal music and of generous artists. A review for which I laid out the structure some time ago, now making the best of 2 day-weekend (in ages) to get it up on my blog. Although this aims to review the EP in particular, I can’t avoid covering the new channels of distribution that upcoming artists like Deathalizer take to reach out to audiences without help of any labels.

Completely Free

With today’s technology, prices for music content is decided more by users/downloaders than artists/labels themselves. Some artists/labels get angry at the users for having their music enjoyed but not being paid the price and then there’s Deathalizer and the likes who let listeners choose the price of the music content starting from as low as $0.

What about the cost of production? What about the livelihood of the musicians? How can they ensure, enough number of listeners value their music to help them sustain themselves and their passion for the art? I don’t have a definite answer to that, neither does one answer fit all. This is best answered by the band themselves. As far as I know, there are many more channels of revenue than just charging people, everytime they play your music on their music players. Many more channels that certainly pay lot better than $0.

The first place I noticed Deathalizer was on Mininova’s wiped out website, as one of the highest seeded torrents. I didn’t think much of it as ‘death’ metal is total no-no for me. However, having given a try, I’ve not regretted the decision since. Mininova as I wrote before now hosts only the torrents which have been uploaded for using their “Content Distribution” service. Deathalizer torrent was uploaded by a group called Independent Metal, that helps spread the word (and torrent) for bands like Deathalizer who share their music for getting exposure. Kudos to both Mininova and Independent Metal for supporting upcoming metal bands.
Music content like that of Deathalizer are free to be publicized and helps to promote the band as well as their music. This is possible because of freely available distribution channels, that I will cover next. Free music for the listeners, free publicity for the musicians.

The Sound, The Genre, The Experience

The first time I started listening to Deathalizer and the vocals came on, it reminded me distinctly of the vocalist of the band Brahma, another heavily metally Metallica influenced band. The genre (i’m no expert) sounds like heavy metal, but I wish the band explores and fuses various other styles, even beyond metal if they can. If you’re into the sound of Metallica and Pantera (I did feel so), you’d like this to begin with. If you’re new to metal, this’s still a good album to get started with. It doesn’t just race you to the finish line before you start listening to it. Its been an experience that not all free music that are shared out are of listenable quality, thankfully Deathalizer to a large extent is.

The vocalist tries a variety of vocal effects, growling, screaming, singing (i think 😛 ), basically ‘performing’ the music. They sound like you’d want to see them live. They’re just continents away from me. 😦
All in all, the EP at just 33 minutes, feels all-rounded, though I wish they come out with full albums soon with longer tracks or atleast tracks perfectly blending into the next one, like a whole concert performance. 🙂

Channels of distribution

Deathalizer’s “It dwells within” album is available to download freely from the following online locations:

  • Official Site. The site is powered by bandcampw which enables music artists to create their ‘official’ .com websites with their designs without worrying about how to let listeners stream and/or download the music in a variety of formats. If you are a music artist, do check it out.
  • Facebook Fan Page. Its more usual to hear about a music artist putting up its presence on MySpace rather than Facebook. In this case, however you can check out updates to their upcoming gigs and stream the album (track by track) on the left side of the page.
  • Mininova (Bittorrent). I’d come across Deathalizer this way as I found it to be the most seeded album on Mininova.
  • Myspace. Usually this is the first place where music artists let users’ listen to their songs. AFAIK only streaming is allowed.
  • Jamendo. There are 4 out of the EP’s 6 tracks made available on Jamendo, possibly as these tracks have been licensed Creative Commons but maybe the other tracks are just open for listening freely, but not for reuse/re-performance in their original or tampered versions. Jamendo lets you stream/download track by track or the whole E.P./album.

Had the artist been legally uptight, there’d probably be only torrents available, being taken down from one site and put up on another. Here instead the artist with help from independent metal are spreading their music across variety of networks, open to all.

Channels of Feedback and Reactions

For an independent artist it is more important to not only let their music be available to as large an audience as possible but also to hear back from as many of them as possible to understand how good the listeners really feel their music are. I wonder how much of similar feedback for big label bands comes from listeners with legal copies. 😉

The most widespread and easy channel of getting listener feedback are social media networks like Facebook and MySpace. People are free to post their reviews of the freely available content. They can post about their experience at the gigs. They could offer any suggestions or criticisms for the band to consider while working on their next project. Of course, no one likes unnecessary profanity. Not even me.

If you’d been to the official site, you’d notice that they have an email contact as well. In particular, its the email of the guitarist Antonio Calaf. If you liked the music, let them at least know that you appreciated it. They have a feedback form on their site, no need to take trouble to open your email client, unless you want to miss out on replies from the band. 🙂

Who Wants a Free Album?

Nobody. People want a good album. They may choose to appreciate and hence pay ugly to handsome monetary rewards or super-awesome fines depending on how badly the band thinks their concert performance and other ways to fund their work will scare away the listeners. Then again there are forward-thinking bands like Deathalizer who trust user’s judgement and conscience to appreciate the music. They’d expect preferably to be rewarded by being paid for the music. However they’d be glad even if you take some time to let others know through social media sites, blogs or simply tapping people’s shoulders with a “excuse me, are you from the RIAA?” 🙂 Free albums of this kind is what appeals to a listener given that it can be listened to as many times at as many places without fear of $670k fines. Some free songs are even open to being re-used, remixed in their entirety or in parts. Just follow the license to know how to attribute the original author and do it.

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