This rather ambitious boxset includes remastered cassette reissues of three Vegas full-lengths—Never, Digital Affairs Neurotic, and ...Not Ever—as well as ReVelations (a compilation of assorted non-album cuts), and that's about the extent of what I'll detail regarding the music. In addition to having previously covered said releases on numerous occasions over the years, I'm guessing that most readers are likely familiar with the V.E.G.A.S. brand of experimentally apocalyptic hardcore/punk/metal and beyond. The presentation of this set, therefore, is much more important.
Now, I buy music on all physical formats, but I'm neither a big cassette guy nor into super diehard collectibles. I buy music for music, so while I appreciate abstruse editions and whatnot, I'm not the type to buy every possible variant of every possible format. Having followed Vegas for at least two decades now, I already own much of this material in other physical forms, and remastering isn't something that sells me on a release. Thus, while I was aware of this box's existence, I wasn't diving into the minutiae, as it didn't seem like something that would be necessary for me.
That being said, when a "Diehard Edition" unexpectedly hit my mailbox a few days ago, I have to admit, I was pretty blown away, and didn't fully realize all that this set has to offer. I mean, we're talkin' a borderline Bacteria Sour level of attention to labor-intensive detail and aesthetics all around.
I opened the package to find a sealed—so you can't be too precious about it if you want to take a peek at what's inside—opaque white mailer bag swollen full of goodies. The front of the bag is emblazoned with a "holy terror" 4P icon filled with assorted Vegas cover art, while the back is printed with a hybrid Abraxas/Vegas logo. Inside is a thick cardboard box wrapped in a matte black obi strip—with Vegas logos/icons stamped on both sides in metallic silver ink, and the underside of the obi being hand-numbered out of 23 (also in metallic silver). A Vegas emblem is screen-printed on top of the box lid—you guessed it: metallic silver—and the interior top/bottom of the box is lined with red felt.
The first sight is a full-color 6.5" six-panel insert containing all of the album covers and tracklists for each tape. Under that are four cassettes in opaque jet-black cases, each printed with the same metallic silver Vegas icon as the outer box, and each with a matte red obi embossed with the Vegas logo and stamped with the individual cassette title—arranged so that the obis form another 4P. In the center is a high-quality V.E.G.A.S. "Club Fiend" enamel pin, resting on a black felt square. The tapes have full-color J-cards, and each bears a different shell color (the "Diehard" colors also differ from the "Standard").
Then, under that, the huge surprise: a full-color 64-page book (7" in size)—hand-numbered and with an embossed dust jacket for the "Diehard"—absolutely packed with quotes, artwork, photographs, interviews, some lyrics, reviews, articles, etc. The book closes out with a grid collage of possibly the entire Vegas discography, accompanied by an exhaustive text-based list outlining every insane breakdown of pressings and variants, etc. If you thought the Vegas discography was extensive, trust me: it's even more so! There's just a shocking amount of information herein—certainly more information surrounding this mysterious entity than you're ever likely to find in one place again...
Still: there's more!? Outside of the box is a four-pin set stapled inside of a semi-transparent white bag, the top portion of which is printed on transparent film and hand-numbered. Plus a promotional postcard, as well as a promotional poster that unfolds to (roughly) 17" × 22" with similar art. I'm not 100% sure that these promos come with all orders, but... probably? And, finally, there's a matte black 3.5" × 5" envelope stamped in metallic silver with another Vegas emblem—and wax-sealed with the stamp of another—that includes a patch, some stickers, and a hand-numbered and signed matte black art card.
Whew! And all of that for $65—which, I don't know how the hell they're even breaking even at that rate. Even if we foolishly overlook the fact that these must have taken fuckin' ages to put together, there's a hell of a lot packed in here, and it all looks fantastic. I could totally imagine other sources charging damn near double that amount, especially were they willing to partake in the hated practice of manufacturing "FOMO," due to the limited nature of each set. $65 ain't cheap, but it seems more than fair when you think about the estimated manufacturing costs of everything you're getting.
The "Standard Edition" is a little cheaper and contains slightly less (you can loosely compare the differences at the Abraxas webstore), but you might as well shell out the extra $10 while you still can. Stripped down from either set, you can also buy the tapes individually, though you'd be crazy not to grab a boxset while they're available—especially if you're interested in all four cassettes. The book alone is worth the added cost!
I definitely have to commend Abraxas for the wow factor here. A lot of care went into this project...
- Abraxas (4x cassette boxset)