Tempe's Asylum Records Is a Heavy Metal Sanctuary

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Lauren Wise
Asylum Records
There's been a lot in the news lately about vinyl records. Vinyl sales hit a 10-year high in Britain, and people are preparing for record store day, a mere month away. This past week on Up on the Sun columnist Steve Wiley presented five reasons CDs are better than vinyl, as well as seven reasons why vinyl is better than CDs. And he wasn't kidding when he says he's good at riling up some Mumfords.

No matter how impartial people feel about vinyl -- it's dated, expensive, overrated -- there's no denying that it's one of those gorgeous weapons of nostalgia. It calls to kicking back on your bedroom floor, surrounded by floating music, whiskey and burning candles. The artwork, that delicious crackle, the creative depth of two sides -- for me, all genres sound better on vinyl, but that especially goes for heavy metal. If you've never listened to Black Sabbath, AC/DC or Pantera on vinyl, you are missing out.

In light of that, I want to show some love to my favorite record shop in town. So metalheads: Meet Asylum Records.

It welcomes you with open arms. Raised devil horns, concert ticket sales, full whiskey bottles, and even a metal-minded cat are just par for the course here.

When I first stumbled upon the Tempe record store, I was in heavy metal heaven. In fact, the first thing I said to the owner when I walked in was that any metalhead would feel right at home.

Since it's located right next to Club Red on University Drive, you've probably seen it if you've attended even a handful of metal shows this year. Paintings of flaming vinyl records and skulls adorn the front windows, and the wall visible through the front is floor-to-ceiling records.

Owner Scott Robenalt and his wife April opened Asylum in February with a grand opening party in July. Every single thing in the store is from Robenalt's personal collection, from the thousands of heavy metal 12-inch LPs, EPs, and picture discs, as well other media such as CD, DVD, and VHS. Every square inch of available wall space is covered in autographed posters, backstage passes, photos, and such novelties as full-sized cardboard KISS members, while the cases display hundreds of used guitar picks, stickers, heavy metal action figures, swords, knives, and other collectibles.

But it doesn't stop there. The goal is to keep the music alive, and Asylum does it well. It's literally a memorabilia rock and roll shop, where you can buy the rarest heavy metal goods and music. Fans and bands alike hang out there, so it's also not uncommon to get a glimpse of your favorite musician that may be playing next door at Club Red or down the road at Marquee Theatre.

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2 comments
cjemge9
cjemge9

We should have Lauren on a 2 week hiatus from any topic related to or about heavy metal music.   Maybe an extended stay at the Sail Inn is warranted here. 

laurenwise
laurenwise

@cjemge9 Hmm...well the column IS called "Metal Mondays" for a reason? :) 

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