I used to pick up four or five metal magazines every month, but now I'm down to two. Much as I don't like the idea that the Web is killing hard copy mags, it's made an impact in my case. Ever since I joined the Brave Board (an invaluable forum for gauging which new releases are bunk and which are worthy), my magazine intake has dropped. I quit buying Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles (after 10 years it had become repetitive, and there's a frustrating lack of editorial presence and any perspective apart from the immediate present) and Metal Maniacs (a mag I'll always respect for its convenience-store accessibility and grassroots charm, but it remains an eyesore), while still picking up Terrorizer and the new kid on the chopping block, Decibel.
Decibel's pretty hot right now, with a good bunch of writers (especially Nick Terry, Adrian Begrand, and U!'s own Kevi-Metal) and a snarky attitude that consistently cracks me up. Their "Hall of Fame" features are indispensible and they're not afraid to zoom in on some of the more unsavoury aspects of metal culture, such as fascism and homophobia, that other zines steer clear of. If I can fault the mag, it's for the reviews section, which is tainted by get-to-the-point smartassery along the lines of "this band has a funny name, so let me spend half the review constructing a half-baked joke around it."
Terrorizer isn't quite the trailblazing, tastemaking publication it was under Nick Terry's guidance, but it's hanging in there. It still looks great, and the scope of music they cover is just right for me. The "Extreme Music–No Boundaries" tagline is still in effect. Featuring Diamanda Galas or Michael Gira in the same context as any given evil Euro-metal act only makes sense. I notice they've started a Classic Albums feature in the same vein as Decibel's Hall of Fame. I don't mind, though; I can digest unlimited amounts of that sort of fodder.
Joe Stannard interviews Strapping Young Lad in the issue of Terrorizer I bought today. Devin Townsend went through a bad patch while doing press for the new album (The New Black), hinting that he was fed up with the band and the lifestyle, and that this might be the final SYL release. His misgivings have sure made for great copy:
"Everybody's got such a hard-on for touring, too. All these bands are like, 'You know what I'd really like to do, man? I'd really like to get into a 40-foot steel tube, with fifteen men, drink beer and watch The Simpsons! For ten months! That would be great. Then for the one hour a day we'll go up there and sweat and pretend that it matters to our life personally that we can pretend that we're rock stars.'"
Or how about:
"If I could pay my rent by making music for me, my friends and a couple of people that I know here and there, man, I would do it."
That strikes a chord.
Stannard also reviews the new Circulus album Clocks Are Like People, which reminded me how great their previous album was. Sure they're twee, but that's their reason to exist. Who else, beside Ritchie Blackmore, would even dare? Acid-folk wasn't the hit with the kids that it should have been in 1972 (Marc Bolan had to plug in and go glam to make a buck, remember), so it's up to Circulus to take it over the top in 2006. I'm pulling for them.