Metal: Reborn FANZINE review

Book Reviews
Metal: Reborn FANZINE review
Dec 16, 2003, 04:10


I have no exposure to about 90 percent of the bands and recordings covered in Metal although I do have some experience with Coroner and Cathedral who are the subjects of features here. But that is not important. What is important is that the anonymous author of this xeroxed 5 x 8 fanzine is doing some of the best writing about music I've come across in years. Beginning with his opening admission that “Much of my appreciation for metal is based around conveniently ignoring lots of things” (face it, that statement can be just as valid when you insert the name of any brand of pop music in 2002) the writer clearly demonstrates a level of self-knowledge, intellectual honesty, and clear-eyed analysis completely unfamiliar to most of the people who write about music.

The mag is set up as an uninterrupted, two-column flow of verbiage. There are no divisions between interviews and reviews. It practically invites the reader to either latch on for the whole ride or turn away. And if you immerse yourself into the flow of the writing you will not stop until the words stop on the paper. If Metal was just the unhindered opinionating of one person, well expressed and somewhat controversial, that would be understandable. What makes the ride remarkable is what the writer examines and how he conveys ideas. Let's take this portion of the mag that deals with the issue of “selling out.”

Tell me something. Given the option, should a band be judged by its independent phase or by the phase during which it was a component in an economically developed company? I think it should be judged by how honestly it makes the transition between the two. How do you intend to judge honesty? Intentions are not necessarily discernable from outside the rehearsal room. I'm only wondering at what point the audience can assume that a band has the resources to exert the most control over how it represents itself.

Where else have you read anything so concisely stated on the topic? The writer goes on to examine the issue in light of the recorded work of Dimmu Borgir and I am completely incompetent to judge his argument based on that evidence. But again, that's not the point. The point is how clearly Metal lays out a case and proceeds to examine it.

What really sold me on this writer was his writing about music writing. By specifically examining the rating of records in Terrorizer magazine, the author reveals the laziness and stupidity that dominates the genre:

There are 161 reviews in Terrorizer #90… A minimal 14 score less than 5, which you would think is the average score on a 0-10 rating scale. Consequently, you might construe 91% of what they review as average-or-better. Until you notice the key, that is, which actually says ‘3-4.5: Average'. It follows that 91% of what they are reviewing is in fact better than average. Wow! … If I assume that any album with a rating of 7.5 or higher is allegedly worth buying, then it turns out that I am expected to spend my hard-earned money on about 60 albums. A month. It's obviously complete bullshit. There are not 60 albums worth buying released in a whole year, let alone a month even if you are less critical than I am, actually have the time to listen to 60 albums a month and can afford to buy them.

Forget that this magazine is about metal, take any magazine that rates albums and apply the same logical process. It's that thought process, combined with an ability to express the results in English, that makes this a great read. A better read than nearly everything else out there and the particularities of metal really don't matter once you get into the mag. Metal has risen to the top of the must read pile for me. Get a copy for yourself if you are even mildly interested in good writing about music. [P.O. Box 416, Devault, PA 19432]

-Bruce Adams

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