With a lot of bands, I hope each album they release offers something that affects me. I don't expect each new album to be drastically different than the last. Rather, I like it when a band finds their sound and progresses from there with each ensuing album. So when a band starts to sound like they're not breaking any new ground (or going back to the proverbial well), I usually say no thanks and stick with their records I already like.
In the last week though, two major excepts to this idea have become abundantly clear to my tastes: Metallica and Journey. Repeat listens to Death Magnetic, Revelation, and Generations have enforced this. And yes, I'm well aware I'm talking about one of metal's most respected titans and a reviled survivor of 70s/80s corporate rock in the same sentence.
There's a deeper effect these records have had on me; beyond the question of whether or not these records have pure originality on them. You can argue both bands have thrown in the creative towel years ago, but something about their newest efforts makes me pay attention. I look past the fact that "The Day That Never Comes" reminds me of parts from "Fade to Black" and "One." I don't mind that "Never Walk Away" has a very, very similar vibe to "It's Never Too Late." Or the fact that "The Place in Your Heart" starts out almost exactly like "Chain Reaction."
I don't know if it's the fact that I've been listening to these bands for over fifteen years. Several reasons why that's not the reason why come to mind. I can safely say that I'm not really pining to hear the latest efforts by Aerosmith, R.E.M., or Smashing Pumpkins. Maybe I'm just addicted to a sound that charges me. Isn't that why music fans stay music fans for life?