November 4, 2010

Categorizing Your CD Collection

Brutal Tunes, Tr00 Metal Life

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they organise their CD collection. Most people – people who only have a passing interest in music and purchase maybe thirty CDs in their lifetime, have a stacking system, whereby the most listened to CDs generally go on top, right down to their old Spice girls records at the bottom.

Others – who have around 30-200+ CDs, and a fondness for music – alphabetize, for ease and simplicity. These are people with well-rounded interests, who know what they like and don’t like and like to have their days planned and their hours scheduled and their pets spayed and their nostrils plucked.

Most metalheads I know, who all have more CDs than Germany has kebab shops, organize by genre. Death Metal CDs on one shelf, ranging from simple original death metal bands like Obituary and Cannibal Corpse on the left (each band’s back catalogue organised chronologically, obviously) through to melodic and technical death in the middle, followed by death/black, grind/death and other death crossovers, and the more obscure industrial death, folk death and barely-death at the end. Then there’s black metal – from Venom through the whole Norwegian scene, (Mayhem, Burzum, Immortal) through the un-black (Antestor) and not-really-black-but-sorta-fits (Cradle of filth, Dimmu Borgir). Power metal on the shelf below – from traditional power (Blind Guardian, Helloween etc) to more raunchy traditional inspired power in the middle (Iron Fire, DreamEvil etc) to wanky orchestral power bands like Nightwish and Kamelot at the end. Bands that – while not being metal themselves – have played a heavy influence on the genre go on the topmost shelf. That’s Pink Floyd, Uriah Heep, Alice Cooper, Led Zepp, etc. Bands that bear no resemblance to metal but we still kinda like them anyway go on the bottom. There’s mostly grunge there – the entire Kyuss catalogue – and a Sarah Maclachlan CD that’s never listened to (honestly) but just haven’t got around to throwing away.

I once met a metalhead who organized his CDs in chronological order. Albums released in the same year are organised alphabetically. Looking at his rack demonstrates the evolution of metal music for the past three decades. It’s interesting to look at, but seems difficult to maintain to me.

Some people throw their CDs in the corner, and they get mixed up with the dirty laundry, and they stands on them and break them and can’t afford to replace them. This is why I no longer lend out CDs.

Once upon a time, before the great joining of the CD and book collections which was my marriage, I alphabetised by the second letter of the band or artists name. So Metallica would be filed under “E”, Iron Maiden under “R” and Tyr under “Y”.

But alas, my husband declared this perfectly sensible system strange and unwieldy, I reorganized all our CDs alphabetically, but it lasted all of three days when CDH discovered that Iron Maiden – his then favourite band of all time – had been placed near the bottom of one of the stacks due to their mid-range position in the alphabet. Now we function on a purely shove-it-anywhere-and-come-here-for-some-sex system, which works very well indeed.

Since someone asked, here’s our current setup:


I have two of these racks, made by my dad from recycled rimu, on either side of my desk (made by my husband)


Levi the cat modelling my desk CDs


I also have a couple of bookshelves decked out like this (the hanging hook is the tail of a monkey)


And this drawer unit sits on CDH's side of the bed

All this, and do you know what we do now? Buy music on iTunes. Bloody lucky too, since some thieving bastards broke into our car the other week and took a wallet of 40 CDs, and our car stereo face. Not the stereo, just the face.

So, how do YOU categorize your CDs, if at all? Do you even own CDs, or are you all about the vinyl? Are you all about electronic music files or holding the CD booklet in your hand? Do you buy the special editions in the fancy cases with the extra DVDs and artwork (they annoy me because they don’t fit in the racks).

I am in awe of this metal cd collection (Via Metal Addiction)

Love, lust and puddin’ crust

12 Comments on “Categorizing Your CD Collection

July 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I own hardly own any CDs, and the two metal CDs that I own are Judas Priest album and an Alterbridge album. I just borrow CDs from my relatives (my whole family is into metal) and download them onto my laptop or just download things online.

August 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Lazy morning, and my google search brought me here! Pretty cool blog, and here are my 2 cents.

Up until recently, my CD collection was a mess! Rock and Metal together in alphabetical order (band), followed by chronological order of each release. Something had to be done about it, since I own rougly 1500 cds, so action was taken!

Heavy Metal: divided by genres(Heavy & Power, Doom, Speed/Thrash, Black, Progressive, Death, Gothic & Symphonic, Folk). The Doom category (a large part of my collection) is also divided in subgenres, Trad & Epic together, followed by Proto-Doom, Doom-Death, Funeral and Folk Doom. Bands in alphabetical order and their releases in chronological. Bands such as Therion, which fit multiple genres, had their discograpy divided. Their first 3 albums are in the Death Metal section and their later works in the Symphonic Metal.

Rock CDs, were much simpler. 70’s Hard & Progressive together, Stoner, Grunge, Indy and Neo-Prog/Psych. Also, a pile of soundtracks, electronic, New Age, Hip-Hop and such.

The only problem, besides space, is the lack of proper shelves. What I have is mitch-matched, and I hope to go IKEA all the way in the near future.

I also collect vinyl, and lots of it, around 800 records, and I have already applied the same logic when it comes to categorizing.


January 23, 2013 at 9:38 am

I have an entire shelf full of versions of Venom’s “Black Metal”, with about 7 reissues and a vinyl, live concert, and a T shirt that I don’t even wear.

My system works below that works so that I have the autobiography or whatever of the artist, then their CDs (this is a bookshelf that I got free because someone was giving it away on their front garden). This works out pretty well because i only really buy the book if i like them, so i know instantly the bands i love and then the terrible stuff i got on a whim.

Pride goes to the “Shelf of shit”, which contains Kiss meet the phantom of the park and any “new wave of party thrash metal” i can find.

February 1, 2013 at 12:13 am

@Luke – your shelf sounds awesome! Can you send me a pic? I want to bask in the Venomy glory \m/

November 8, 2010 at 11:33 pm

At the moment, my cd collection is a mess because I have just moved and I’m going to sell some of it tommorrow. However, when I get around to sorting it out, I’m going to put it the way it was before I moved: Seperating Classical (and instrumental) from the rest then dividing the rest into male and female vocalists, then I’ll order these three categories *chronologically* from bottom to top and keep every band/artist together.
For example, in the male band category, I’ll have Lep Zep CDs at the bottom-ish (they’re 70s), then you’ll find Porcupine Tree somewhere at the top (they’re from 2000ish).

November 15, 2010 at 1:03 am

@Immy – I love your system. I’d never thought to separate male and female vocalists before. What do you do if a band has both male and female?

I am thinking of designating the bookshelf to “non-metal” so that will be all my cheesy girl-pop, classical and folk stuff. Not sure if I can be bothered, though.

November 7, 2010 at 12:20 am

The only metal album I have owned on CD was Dragonforce’s Inhuman Rampage. It was bought for me by a friend as a joke gift after I mentioned how “brutal” the song Trail of Broken Hearts was.

Everything else I own is downloaded, and a lot of it “illegally”.

I intend on replacing everything on independent labels once I start earning though. Devin Townsend’s entire discography is first on my list. :)

November 15, 2010 at 12:58 am

@Nellie – Is that REALLY the only album you own? That’s a crack-up :)

November 5, 2010 at 11:34 am

Well…when I first started collecting metal I was download only. After spending time with some older metalheads Ive come to appreciate owning the actual cd. I feel like downloading stuff isnt really a collection…because there’s nothing to collect. (Here…check out my impressive collection mp3 files)

Now I do upload everything I buy onto the computer, this allows me to keep track of what I own, and also burn copies for my car. (Im not losing my copy of “Nespithe” to some crackhead who wont appreciate it).

Im still coming up with a system of my own for organizing my stuff. As of right now, I use the “stack it here..I’ll get to it later” system. I feel this system will not work for too much longer as Ive recently begun to collect vinyl as well.

November 15, 2010 at 12:57 am

@Rob – yep, I’m never, ever, EVER having real CDs in the car again. I’m still fuming about the break-in – it was 40 of our favorite disks, and lots we’d brought from shows in Europe or on my other various travels. Mezarkabul’s “Unspoken” which took me centuries to find. Grrrrr.

You’re a brave man, starting on the vinyl. Once you go vinyl, that’s it. you’re a music geek for life. Looking forward to weekends spent trawling through dark record shops.

Emily Bleak
November 5, 2010 at 6:35 am

I don’t think I’ve purchased a CD since Napster rolled out and I was 13…but I still buy vinyl if I can get it directly from the band at a show. I do burn some of my downloaded albums to CD-Rs though, and they stay organized in one of those big huge CD folders in the car: alphabetical by band name, sub-sorted chronologically from oldest to newest release dates. It turns long drives in S.’s car into “the history of Pentagram” or “let’s pinpoint when a band started sucking” lessons. :D

I also label everything by genre and country of origin in my iTunes so I can just lump in some USBM or Japanese drone if I feel like it.

I miiiiiight just be a little anal retentive about storing my music…

November 15, 2010 at 12:54 am

@E This made me laugh because this is SO what I used to be like, before I met CDH and his “can’t be assed” attitude kind of took over my life :)

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