Labor Day, for most people, brings the typical out-door grilling, hot dogs, beer, and and the other fun stuff that has nothing to do with "labor". Anyways, this year, it was pretty standard fare for me as well. I got together with some friends, made some guacamole, and started to guzzle some Tom Collins and Guinness.
So, after the buzz settled in, nice and warm, my buddy Chance and I started in on the sloppy music discussion, as is standard operating procedure when the libations are flowing. Chance, in his effort to turn me on to something that there's totally NO WAY I'd ever have heard of, starts telling me about an old metal band he thinks i'd like. As he begins to tell me the details of the band, it occurs to me that I totally know them. He tells me about this tape that he's acquired back when he was in high school, through a friend's dad, who apparently wrote for a metal zine, which were things people read before the internet.
Some details - A random Power Metal band from Rockford, Illinois puts out a demo tape in 1993, when I was 12. I used to stay up late on the weekends, back when there used to be late night metal shows (which I don't think is a thing anymore) and record music off the radio, on to cassette tapes. I remember hearing this particular band on the local College radio station, and for some reason, they had just stuck with me.
So after some jubilant discussion, we rejoice in our collective nerd nostalgia and start trying to track down info about the elusive and generally unknown band from our youth: StormBringer. The next four hours is spent grinding out various Google search combinations, trying to track down as much info as possible about this band. We find an entry for them at Encycolpaedia Metallum (which is a testament to the people that contribute to that site - holy fuck) that gives us some info, however still slim it may be. I think, at this phase of the night, we just wanted to know if any of the band members went on to join some other band. I'm not sure. We had been drinking gin.
I know that our end goal was to track down the music from there demo tape, but all we could find was a broken link on a message board and a few videos on Youtube. It was looking like we might not find what we were looking for. Now, at this point we had five or six people combing the internet looking for anything that could lead to something substantial about how to get in touch with this band or some mp3s or whatever the fuck we could get our hands on. Finally, someone (I don't remember who), shows us a site that is selling the original demo tape for $15.00.
Thus, we discover, Horizons Music.
I'm always a little funky when it comes to shopping with sites online that I'm unfamiliar with. Looking through the site info leaves a lot to the imagination, as it's very simple and uninspired. Needless to say, I wasn't super eager to use my credit information on the site. Interestingly enough though, the mailing address is in Illinois, where I live. Fucking great! Maybe we could just go there. The only problem we faced was the fact that the place is about 90 miles away from where we live. I was willing to travel, and this had become such a quest, Chance was willing to drive.
We made a pact to go all the way to Mendota, IL to buy this fucking tape, if they'd let us come in and purchase the fucker in person/
So Tuesday rolls in, and we've committed to this trip. Chance had called them before I was awake, and found out that we could indeed go to their location and browse their stock. This, for some silly reason, gave me the impression that Horizons was a store or something. Well, that simply wasn't the case, at least not in any traditional sense of the word.
Anyways, we get in the car and drive 90 fucking miles, which wasn't bad really, and arrive off the highway into the little town of Mendota. I guess it might be a town anyways. I have no idea. It's basically bunch of truck stops on a random exit in between nowhere and nothing. It seemed nice enough, but it's definitely not a destination. we take a few side streets, crawling back into an industrial, overgrown, sidewalk-free zone. The GPS dutifully informs us that we've arrived at our destination - an empty field. Adjacent to the field (which is clearly the wrong place) is a gray, nondescript warehouse with a wooden sign leaning up against a pole with the word, "sale" spray painted on it in a lovely red hue. We collectively agree that this must be the place.
We park and walk around the side of the building, noting the distinct lack of any identification on the building. A rickety screen door greets us, with another small sign with the same sale indication written on it. We walk in, and we are now in a disheveled office full of boxes and order forms and other random stacks of this and that. In a room to the left, there are three women sitting at a table eating lunch who vaguely acknowledge our presence as we walk in. We greet them and inform them that we'd called about the tape. We ask if we can look around, and they tell us to follow the signs, which will no doubt lead us to the murderer that waits us in the bowels of the warehouse. Everywhere there are posters of old movies and stacks of records and CDs, as well as random boxes and shelves and little signs leading you this way and that way. The walls have little notes that say things like, "don't sell to asshole!"
We finally make our way down the dark corridors and into a large, open warehouse that looks like a combination garage sale/storage unit.
Inside the warehouse it's incredibly hot and it smells like old vinyl. hundreds and hundreds of boxes fill the room, all containing old records and cut-outs, as well as random articles of clothing and furniture free for the taking. It's quite unlike anything I've seen, and really very amazing. It's certainly not a record store in any way, but who knows what's to be found in this cache of long-forgotten music.
We spend about 20 minutes mulling about the warehouse, trying to take it all in, before we head back up to the front to purchase our intended prize. Back up front, we are greeted by the owner of the company, Ron. He is exactly what you'd expect. He's an older guy, probably in his 60's and just a tiny bit eccentric. We engage in conversation with him, and clearly he thinks we're as nutty as we thing he is for having driven 180 miles for a 15 dollar, 21 year old cassette tape. There's a mutual respect, albeit, unspoken. He tells us he's been in business for 40 years, and tiniest hint of hording that comes with owning literally millions of pieces of music shows that. We leave with the notion that next time, it'd probably be just as easy to order music through the site, but that the trip was well worth the adventure.
With the coveted cassette in hand, we drive the hour and a half back home.
Now, presented for you, the fruits of our labor, but mostly, Stormbringer's labor:
StormBringer - Stealer of Souls
Now, it must be stated, I do not own the rights to this music, nor do I claim any profit from having these songs on my site. They are intended for the sole purpose of sharing something that's awesome to me, and maybe spreading a little bit of mutual joy. If anyone from StormBringer has a problem with these songs being on my site, please feel free to contact me. Until then, fuck it. Also, these songs were ripped from a cassette tape, so the sound quality isn't super great, but it's not terrible. It's a 20 year old tape, so don't get shitty if it sounds a little warbled. That's what happens to old cassettes. As far as I can tell, this is the only place you can find this demo in its entirety online, so take it for what it is. There's not a huge market for relatively unknown Power Metal bands from the 90's.
Anyways, this little adventure has filled a bit of a childhood void for me, and I hope it has a similar effect on you.
Frank Masterson, Donn Koehler, Pete Alvarez, Greg Eichelberger and Leonard Brauchler, I hope you guys found some success and are still playing.