There are countless bands I like and enjoy their music. End of story.
However, there are a few bands out there, that when they put out a new release, I will live, eat, and BREATHE that new album. My enjoyment of the album goes beyond the music, although that is where it definitely starts. No, when these particular bands put out a new album, the act of buying and listening to it becomes a completely different experience than simply jamming out to some killer metal (although I am not opposed to that by any means!).
A few examples from my high school years include Sepultura - Arise, Metallica - ...And Justice For All, Megadeth - Rust in Peace, Danzig - both Self Titled and Lucifuge, D.R.I. - 4 of a Kind, Suicidal Tendencies - How Will I Laugh Tomorrow..., and Slayer - South of Heaven among many others.
Each of these albums were essentially little worlds for me to enter into and visit for a while. Each had a very specific feeling to them, and to absorb the full atmosphere of an album, everything about it had to be eaten visually as well as audibly.
For those who still buy CDs (and vinyl!), you know how it is after purchasing a new album which you have been lusting over ever since the record company issued out the release date. You get it home and go into your designated music area where you can be alone, just you and your new album. Off comes the plastic wrap, and on through the gauntlet of removing the security tape that lines the top and bottom of the secured jewel case. All the while you can almost TASTE the music.
Once you finally open the case and pop out the CD (which always feels like it's going to break in half the first time you pry it out), the music trip can begin. The CD goes into the stereo and out comes the CD booklet - an essential flavor of the music-buying banquet.
As the music plays in the background, the album cover become eye candy to be thoroughly studied over and over again, and eventually becoming one with the sounds pounding out of the stereo. The lyric sheet is poured over to memorize phrases as if they had been specifically written for the listener. At times we as fans would even find a way to relate certain lyrics to what is going on in our lives, helping us gain strength, cope, or enjoy what was happening at that exact moment in life as we listen to something that means so much to us.
I love that a particular album can set out to tell us fans a story with a combination of music and printed art and words. It causes a connection that is welcoming and eventually nostalgic, but always powerful.
Yes, now I am older and sadly have less time to connect with newer albums the way I did back in high school, but I still find those gems in the new wave of thrash that mesmerizes me just as much as the classic bands from 20-plus years ago.
Bands such as Tantara, Bio-Cancer, Municipal Waste, 4ARM, Dr. Living Dead, Violentor, Insinnerator, Essence, and many more grab me by the neck and drag me into that special place where it's just me, the sounds, and the freakin' CD booklet. For me, one of their albums becomes a world that I can visit for one hell of an involved music trip.
To quote my buddy at Gogmagogical: "because music is...tremendous!"