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As I mentioned in my Ludicra anniversary, I recently reverted to using an older iPod, one loaded with music I was listening to about four years ago. While that brief foray into nostalgia was nice in its own way, I need to update the damn thing with new music. There’s too many new promos to listen to, and so far that my taste has evolved since then.

What I'm going to do, then, is listen to any band or record that IO commentators recommend.

First, some thoughts about the iPod. IO has long been a proponent of the album, or at least curated song collection (EP, Split, etc.) as a listening experience, and in that respect the iPod is a mixed blessing. The ability to switch rapidly from song to song and artist to artist, digitally, has contributed to the growing singles download market in all genres, including metal. I’m not alone in this conviction, in fact some people have taken this sort of neo-Luddite attitude to extremes—I can’t help but think that the return of the cassette tape is related to the format’s relative difficult digital transfer process.

In conversation, I’ve entertained remarks that my use of a iPod itself is somewhat Luddite. The argument seems to be that iPods, like BluRay discs (or even, gasp, HD DVD’s) are—or were—a transitional medium on the journey from analog to cloud computing. Among other places, my day job includes shifts at a bar, where the bartenders have championed their smart phones loaded with Spotify. I admire the relative ease and versatility of the cloud—instant access to a Library of Congress’s worth of music is intoxicating to someone like me.

However, the iPod has a few advantages, even in the age of smartphones, that cannot be denied. Like many people, I do most of my listening both away from a computer and away from high-speed WiFi, often while moving around or performing some sort of physical activity. In that context, the mp3 player still remains king. iPhones simply lack the memory space to hold even a decent fraction of my music collection, and I gather it’s the same for many metalheads and other music enthusiasts, who still acquire large stockpiles of digital (and physical ) music. Spotify can’t replace that kind of offline necessity—besides, Spotify doesn’t have a lot of the music I listen to anyway. I’m not even referring to kvlt black metal, at least not exclusively. The damn thing doesn’t even have old school Bob Seger in its repertoire, but my hard drive does.

Speaking of large digital collections, mine’s a mess. Seeing how cluttered I’ve allowed my iTunes library to become, I’ve opted to wipe the whole thing clean and begin re-loading it from a nothing. I’m not going to delete my old MP3’s, but I’m not going to make them easily accessible either. Seeing as how I’ve recently moved to a new city, and recently begun editing this site, starting over from a blank slate seems appropriate.

What I don’t want to do, however, is fall back into my old listening habits. The cliché in metal, as well as in all music, is for music enthusiasts to stop listening to newer material, and fall back on the music they first began to love. There is some scientific basis for this, and while I don’t mean to suggest that listening to different music will inhibit decreased brain function as a result of aging, I do believe that practicing my ability to appreciate new music is just plain good for me.

To that end I’ve decided to consciously avoid loading any of the artists that I typically load onto my iPod first. According to my last.FM (feel free to friend me), my most listened-to artists include Carcass, Pig Destroyer, Skeletonwitch, Paradise Lost, Iron Maiden, Kvelertak and Enabler. I will not be loading any of these bands. In addition, I’m going to avoid the big, ‘classic’ bands. No Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Judas Priest. Instead, I’m going to focus on some wonderful new records I’ve neglected to listen to, from bands like Solefald, Today Is the Day and Blut Aus Nord.

Beyond that, as I said, I’m going to open my ears up to the whims of IO readers.

In the comment section below, list a few artists you’d like me to listen to, and I will do so. This is an extension of the old out-cult-one-another game so often practiced by metalheads sitting at the bar waiting for the band to start. I’m referring strictly to metal bands, here, although I want you to interpret the genre lines loosely if you so desire—I mentioned Bob Seger earlier, and his first three records are about as heavy as Rainbow, for example. I’m going to limit suggestions per commentator to three, and will only accept suggestions in the comment thread below. You’ve got the weekend until submissions close (10am EST Monday, October 6).

In two weeks’ time, I will respond to the suggestions given, in some depth. I’m aware that from time to time Vice’s NOISEY blog runs a similar feature, but unlike that website I intend to go over each suggestion with some thought and clarity, as well as zero snark (OK, some snark. An acceptable amount of snark).

Throw me curveballs. Get obscure. Get weird. Help preserve my brain plasticity.

— Joseph Schafer