Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Under the influence

I have never considered myself nor have I ever been a 'metalhead' in the sense that I've never liked plain old heavy metal. I used to find it boring, shallow and definitely not extreme enough for my liking. Plus the fans would best be described as fucking imbeciles. This is more or less my opinion until today. 
My interest in music started in early 80's with the post punk bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus and also bands like The Smiths, all three bands that are still some of my favorites. Sometime in 1985 or 1986 I got trapped into thrash metal's web and then it was a path of no return. Death metal, black metal in 1988 and the heavy involvement in the then burgeoning underground strengthened my roots in extreme music for good. When I started listening to thrash metal the only non thrash bands I had heard before were AC/DC and Iron Maiden's Powerslave. This means I still have a fondness for those bands although they are nowhere close to being my favorites.
These thoughts came to me recently when I was reorganizing my record collection. I filed the cds and LPs according to the genre the band belongs (Black metal, death, thrash, doom, martial/industrial, progressive, folk, post rock and so on). It was then that it became obvious that the category with the fewest records (by very very far) was heavy metal. In fact the heavy metals albums I own are so few that I could write all of them without being bored. Brocas Helm's three studio albums, Helstar's Burning Star, In Solitude's self titled debut, Mercyful Fate's, Iron Maiden's and Manilla Road's discographies, Satan's Court in the Act, Ram's Lightbringer and Running Wild's first two. This is pretty much all the heavy metal I can take. These few bands are the exception to the rule of shallow music, stupid lyrics, crappy and happy melodies that characterizes heavy metal. To put it simply it is not dark and brutal enough for me.

I usually don't talk about music when in the company of other people. It was always difficult for me to meet people that would share my extreme and twisted views in music or even my passion for it, so I stopped socializing (with the few persons I do socialize) on the basis of musical tastes. This has also made music a very personal matter for me. When I recently run into an old friend and comrade from almost twenty years back we had a long talk about the underground and 'the old days'. It is unavoidable when you get older to think of the older era as purer, better and in all senses greater than the present. So, we that lived the golden era of the underground in late 80's early 90's find today's situation pathetic. The things I would like to be different are many but what I miss the most are the printed fanzines. This was the purest indication of the fan's commitment and devotion to the scene. This was also the average fan's attempt to be a part of the scene and not just a passive receiver. The rise of the internet has led to a vast explosion of web zines which logically led to a great amount of rubbish being posted online with the internet acting as a huge dumpster that threatens to bury the underground under vast amounts of shit. I find it sad that the best web zines today are in fact indie music sites that give some space to black, death and doom metal. Sad in the sense that I have yet to find a web zine devoted only to said genres and worth even a couple of minutes of my time. 
Of course I am not the only nostalgic in the world. This means that printed zines still do exist, even in a smaller scale than before. The problem is that most of those that I happened to read suffer from baby diseases that are unacceptable in our times. What was charming in 1988 is annoying in 2010 at least for me as I am now 39 and have much higher expectations. When talking about an old zine the broken english of both the writer and the band featured were among others a sign of the times. Now I cannot stand a zine written in horrible english to the point were the reader cannot even understand the questions being asked and the answers given. I also cannot stand interviews that are anything but thought provocative. Another common feature of any zine was the overwhelming exaggeration and enthusiasm of the writer that led to the glorification of worthless bands and recordings. This was once bearable as this music was new and pretty much in its shaping so there wasn't really a point of reference and comparison so any exaggeration was excused. That's not the case today though. There are no more virgin ears, everybody is one click away from any music he desires so the last thing one needs is an uneducated shithead from the other side of the world ranting about how great is some demo that is actually worse than a pile of shit. 
It is obvious that there are some people that are confused. Making an amateur publication does not equal to making a bad one. Times have changed very much and the needs of the underground today are very different than twenty years ago. An imaginative layout that would not insult the reader's  aesthetics, proper use of the language, thoughtful and insight texts, be it interviews or any other text. The only zine I have read meeting the above criteria and many more is Oaken Throne, probably the best music magazine I have ever read. 
One great zine (and maybe a couple of others that I didn't happen to read). Can this make a difference?

The accused...
Profanatica - Disgusting  Blasphemies Against God
Lucifugum - Xa Heresy
Tortured Spirit - Arkham Sanitarium
The Secret - Disintoxication

Cut your flesh and worship SATAN