Happy Birthday Air Guitar

This teeny tiny blog started in 2009 but the first words of steel were written on 15 November 2010.
Since it’s inception; I have reviewed, interviewed and wrote about heavy metal music and it’s culture. I have also been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people (offline and online) along the way! I took a break from writing on this blog between December 2012 and October 2013 to travel and explore my heritage. Here I am today, back at where I started.

Before I get on with more metal musings, I want to thank the writers, photographers, PR folks and countless of awesome Metalheads for keeping the music scene alive. It’s amazing what we do for the things we love.

Happy Birthday Air Guitar Blog. Let’s get the ball rolling for 2014.

Yours in metal,


 

Advertisements

REVIEW: ING (SOUTH AFRICA)

ING – INGQUISITION


In South Africa, the bloody-mindlessness of politics is rife. Ask any citizen to explain the political dilemmas and you will get a list beyond infinity but ask any citizen to explain what they are doing to stop the political quandary – you won’t get any answers except a blank gaze and a mumble.
This is where the complainING stops and the investigatING starts. ING are one of the first South African English bands that address their lyrics directly to the political affairs of the nation. The Cape Town based band warped, bended and blended the local diplomacy with the familiar skills of thrash metal to create something undeniably unique. Today, 29 September 2012, marks the official release of ING’s second full-length album entitled Ingquisition.
The guitars and bass, aptly played by Darren Webb and Henk Kruger, screech and squeal with headbanging riffs on Ingquisition while the drummer, Marius Theron, compliment the not so clean singing vocalist and guitarist, Bryan Villain. Some tracks unfold with prowess and energy while other tracks feature infamous Cabinet voice samples. The highly charged atmosphere of the album is consistent and subsequently there are no breaks for a sweet melody or a lacklustre chug. The highlight tracks of Ingquisition are “Julius”, “Satan Rules”, “Ingquisition” and “My Way Or The Die Way”. A sense of the band’s enterprise comes through on the highlighted tracks and immediately the listener is drawn into the raw energy and can comprehend the theme of the lyrics. Villain’s vocals are not entirely clean singing but hold enough rhythm and vigour as well as a bit of a tainted South African accent. The high-quality production values really make Ingquisition the topping of blood on snow. It is independently produced with super studio clarity and razor precision is placed on composition and beat.
After a few spins of the thirteen track album, the impressive satire and skill of ING is apparent. The corners of a few tracks blend a little too much but the breakdowns add some fine stylistic variation. Each instrument is heard and what truly stands out is that no instrument is superior to the other. Furthermore, the track list runs fluidly and ING’s cut-out-the-fat approach to making an album is thoroughly pleasing.
What problems do I have with Ingquisition? None.
You can find ING on Facebook and on Twitter and on Reverbnation.

THIS IS MY METAL LIFE: BETH WINEGARNER

BETH WINEGARNER

Picture taken by  Carrie Breinholt

Beth Winegarner, writer, novelist, poet, mother, and proud Heavy Metal lover chats to Air Guitar about women in metal, backward messages and what the journalism field really is all about.  

Let me first ask you, how and why did you get into journalism?

I was excruciatingly shy when I was young – to the point where I couldn’t actually read or speak out loud if a teacher called on me in class. My parents tried several things to help me overcome my anxiety, including spelling bees and learning the violin, which required me to perform for small audiences, but it continued to be really difficult.
Around 13, I discovered writing. I started keeping journals and I wrote poems, and in the process I realized I had this really amazing, safe way of communicating my thoughts and feelings. I could bypass my shyness.
Then, in high school, I started taking journalism classes, which meant working on the school paper. I wrote articles, helped with page design, edited other people’s work, and discovered that I was good at it. This was the latter part of high school, when the pressure was on to figure out what I’d like to study in college and pursue as a career. I loved writing so much, and journalism seemed like a smart way to use that passion and skill in a way that could support me financially. Of course, back then, I had no idea that the journalism industry might change so dramatically in the next 20 years!
You have written for many magazines, webzines and you are the author of several books – is there ever time that you feel ‘burnt out’? If so, how do you overcome it?

It’s pretty rare that I feel burnt out, which assures me that journalism was the right path. I’ve had periods working for daily newspapers when I would get tired, or I was working on a series of stories that I wasn’t so passionate about. But I get a lot of sustenance from journalism: the process of discovering facts and ideas, interviewing people and gathering information, and turning all that into something that’s helpful to readers. There’s so much variety to the work, it’s tough to get bored or stuck in a rut.
Early on, I did get burnt out when I was trying to make it as a music writer – I had to write so much about bands that didn’t matter to me, and I also discovered that I can’t stand reviewing live concerts. I’ve gotten back into music writing now, but in a much more selective way that feels more sustainable to me.
 
I have read many of your recent articles but the one I always come back to is the superbly expressed “The Heavy Metal Witch Hunt Lives On” which was written for Popmatters. Why did you opt to write that article and what were your thoughts when doing so?

I’m so glad you liked it! In the course of blogging about metal regularly, I started to discover metal bands in other parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, where playing in a metal band can be a very risky proposition. I’d grown up during the PMRC years in America, and I knew how ridiculous it was when powerful people called heavy metal “evil.” But I thought the world had moved past it – and here were all these examples that proved it hadn’t.
I was impressed by how dedicated those musicians were to creating and performing heavy metal music, even though it could get them harassed, arrested, or tortured. Emos and metalheads in Iraq were even recently killed. I wish their societies could make room for them. But their dedication says something important about heavy metal in general, and what it means to the people who love it. People who love metal love it fiercely, and that’s something people worldwide need to recognize.
In your blog, Backward Messages, you debunk negative portrayals of teen interests and culture. Where did the concept of the blog come about and what has the reaction been like from parents and society?

Between 2007 and 2010 I wrote a book for parents about all the most controversial teen interests – violent video games, paganism, and heavy metal, and so on. Once I finished the book, I wanted to keep writing about those topics while I shopped for a publisher, so I started the blog.
I had originally hoped that the blog would be a resource for the parents of teenagers, but I’m discovering that the parents of teenagers don’t seek out parenting advice or resources online; I don’t know why. I know lots of folks with teenagers, and certainly some of them struggle with the challenges of parenting, but they seem to go it alone.
Still, the blog gets plenty of traffic – predominantly from people who are keyed into a particular issue. For example, goths comment on the posts I write related to goth culture. Or, if I write about a recent crime, friends of the suspect or victim will find my posts in a Google search and come over to talk about it. 
I’ve had quite a few commenters who thought I was totally off my rocker for arguing that these various influences can actually be good for kids. But I’ve also had plenty more who thank me for posting about a particular issue that’s dear to them, because it’s rare to find someone who says, yes, Satanism can be safe and healthy! Or, don’t worry about your kid playing Skyrim – unless it’s for 48 hours straight, without getting up to pee!
Throughout your work, you are very strong and consistent in your discussions and arguments. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a journalist?

It’s funny that you say that, because when I am making arguments or stating my opinions, I don’t consider that work “journalism.” It’s based on similar research techniques, but for the most part, I feel that opinions don’t belong in journalism; it’s a reporter’s duty to collect and report the facts and let the reader make up his or her own mind.
But there are definitely times to show a side of the story that hasn’t been told, to provide a kind of balance. In part, we need that because some journalists aren’t doing their duty to remain as objective as possible. It’s not just that they’re telling only one side, but they’re reporting faulty and poorly researched information, and even injecting their own (incorrect) speculation into their articles.
That said, I think the most important thing I’ve discovered has nothing to do with objectivity. As I said, I’m shy, so it took me a long time to work up the nerve to ask the kinds of questions that reporters really need to ask – the pointed questions about topics their sources would rather not talk about. In everyday life, we’re discouraged from asking those questions, because it’s considered rude. But when you’re a reporter, it’s your job to ask. And, some of the time, no matter what you ask, people will answer. Or, the worst they’ll say is “I won’t answer that.” But you have to ask. You have to be brave enough to ask.
“Women in metal” is an on-going topic and a lot of writers, feminists and musicians are giving crude sexist metal men the middle-finger to defend the gender inequality. Can you please elaborate on such?

This is such a rich topic, and really tough to summarize, in part because it’s an ongoing conversation in the metal community. Each time it comes up, people evolve a little bit.
First, I don’t think the metal community – and especially individual metalheads – are intentionally sexist. There are plenty who accept women as equals, whether it’s in the audience, onstage, or elsewhere. And there are others who believe they see women as equals; they may act in ways that say otherwise, but they don’t realize they’re doing it. However, metal as a culture is a branch off of mainstream society, and mainstream society still favors men and male power. Plus, metal in particular is founded in expressions of darkness, power, and aggression – qualities society normally sees as “masculine.” Once we can really embrace those qualities in women, I think we’ll find a more balanced place for women in the culture.
Women have always been part of metal culture, and their numbers seem to be increasing. With that comes both friction – as women make space for themselves and define, both privately and publicly, what it means to be a female metalhead – and acceptance, as others get used to their presence. Unfortunately, many times women’s presence is sexualized in a way that men’s isn’t (such as with Revolver’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” issues), or women are  treated as a novelty (as with Decibel’s recent “Women in Metal” issue). The natural opposite is a “Men in Metal” issue, and when you devote one issue to women, you suggest that the rest are overly devoted to men.
At some point, I’d like to see women treated simply as part of the fabric of metal culture. We don’t need to be pointed out. We don’t need to be elevated. We just need to be included in the same way that men are. It needs to be clearer that we’re into the music for the same reasons as men. But that hasn’t happened yet, and that’s why the conversation is still happening.
 As a busy writer, poet, family giver and proud Metalhead – what do you do for relaxation?

Well, I’m not very good at relaxing, let’s just get that out of the way! But when I want to take a break from writing, working, or parenting, I tend to make a beeline for the computer – just to chat with friends, read blogs, or see what other people are up to on Facebook and Twitter. I also love to cook, and in particular I love to bake breads and desserts. I read a fair amount, and of course I listen to music as often as possible. Music really helps me recalibrate and return to centre.
 Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment? Perhaps, there are plans for a new novel?

Well, I freelance for local (San Francisco) newspapers, so I’m always juggling a few different projects. Right now I’m finishing up a cover story for the SF Weekly that should be published in early October, on the topic of same-sex marriage. I’m also researching another long-form piece, but I haven’t started pitching it yet, so I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that it relates to metal, and that I hope to sell it to a national (non-metal) magazine. That one, if it works out, could become another book down the road. I’m extremely excited about my research, so I’d love it if someone gave me the space to write about it.
You can find Beth Winegarner on Twitter and on her official webpage and Backward Messages.

GHOST CULT MAGAZINE



GHOST CULT

Air Guitar Blog had a chat with Raymond Westland about the launch of a new rock and metal digital magazine called Ghost Cult. Air Guitar grilled the Chief Editor about it being “another metal magazine” but Ghost Cult is set to be in a premium class. 

Ghost Cult is a hybrid webzine and digi-mag with an outlook on forward thinking rock and metal. Could you elaborate on “forward thinking rock and metal’?
Generally speaking many bands within the rock and metal scene tend to be quite conservative as far experimentation and adding new flavours to their style goes. I can perfectly understand that, because the list of failed experimental train wrecks is endless with the latest Morbid Angel record being the most recent example. Not to mention the Lulu album by Metallica and Lou Reed. Having said that there are also bands who like to evolve and experiment with new sounds and influences. Those are the bands that keep the metal genre alive as a whole. As a person I like to discover new things, so there you go.

Does that mean there will be more emphasis on up and coming bands (underground) and less emphasis on commercial music?
I find the term “commercial music” quite a contradiction seen within the metal context. For all intents and purposes metal still isn’t pop music. I prefer the term “mainstream metal” and those are the bands that get enough exposure in metal media, so I feel there’s lot to be gained to give high quality up and coming bands in the spotlight with Ghost Cult , although one or two mainstream metal acts may slip through, because we’re fans.
As you mentioned, there is a lot to be gained by giving high quality up and coming bands exposure, who are Ghost Cult’s primary target audience?
Hard to say really, but I think everyone with a passion for high quality metal and good writing will enjoy Ghost Cult. In my (humble) opinion the GC writing crew consist of some of the best writers and reviewers out there, personally selected by yours truly!

I expect nothing less but how does Ghost Cult differ from other webzines especially ones that you have previously worked on?
In many respects Ghost Cult is evolution of sorts of what I’ve done and worked on before. The thing that will set us apart is the fact that we combine the best aspects of a digital magazine and a webzine and the fact that we have an very skilled and talented designer in the person of David Alexandre. He’s the one that really brings Ghost Cult alive

Ghost Cult is an overhaul of Scratch The Surface webzine. Staff has changed and a new blueprint was made. Can you tell us a bit about the new team?
The writing crew consists mostly of people I worked previously with Alternative Matter (now defunct) and Thisisnotascene.com, plus some people that were recommended to me. The editorial staff consists of Chris Wright (PR/content editor), David Alexandre (designer/senior editor), Pete Ringmaster (content editor) and yours truly as chief editor. We have the skills and experience to bring Ghost Cult to the next level.

The Ghost Cult tagline is “Spirit of Metal”. How do you as the Chief Editor define that?
Well, “Spirit” is obviously connected with “Ghost” and “Cult”. What the “Spirit of Metal” means differs from each person. For me it means a sense of freedom to do what you like to do without being too concerned with fitting in a certain mould or form. As much as I hate to admit it, metal in itself is in many regards a bulwark of conservatism with all types of ludicrous social conventions and rules. I want Ghost Cult to be a gathering for free spirited people who enjoy all sorts of different music and bands without any prejudice

I like that last statement. In terms of “Global Metal”, how will Ghost Cult embrace the foreign scenes?

Ghost Cult has writers from Canada, US, UK, South Africa and even Australia, so we’re not really concerned with borders, nationalities or so-called “foreign scenes”. All we care about is high quality music, so it doesn’t matter from which continent or country a band comes from.

When can we expect the first Ghost Cult issue?
When all goes well, the first issue will appear on October first. Without giving too much you can expect interviews with Enslaved, Katatonia, Kontinuum, Zatokrev, Winterfylleth and a host of others. Check http://www.ghostcultmag.com/ for updates and all!

How can contributors and artists contact Ghost Cult?

There will be a contact address on the Ghost Cult website as soon as it’s ready; in the mean time people can drop me a line at HomeNucleonics [at] gmail [dot] com
Do you have any last words?

Thank you very much for this opportunity and all join the Ghost Cult

Thank you, Ray!

THIS IS MY METAL LIFE: SABRINA RAMDOYAL

SABRINA RAMDOYAL

Photo Taken By: Michelle Murphy http://www.mootography.com/
SABRINA RAMDOYAL

Photographer, Artist and Proud Metalhead Sabrina Ramdoyal shares the highs and lows of being a a music photographer, the Slipknot moment that changed her life and Bloodstock Festival 2012!
Please [CLICK HEREto access Sabrina Ramdoyal’s portfolio.

Let me first ask you, how and why did you get into music photography?
In 2007, I completed an honours degree in Psychology & Counselling Studies. To get a job within the industry would take a further seven to ten years. So, being very distant towards my job goal, I was very fascinated with Art Therapy from my studies. I love Art and I’ve used it as a means, along with metal music, to control my hectic mind. It was one day I was with my partner, now of six years, I told him my experiences and showed my Art. I questioned if I should take up a course in Art and Design to expand on my interest. He simply said to follow my dreams and he’ll support me along the way. So, after learning the many art forms within the course for one year and gaining a Merit after completing my final major project specialising in Fine Art & Photography [I used a digital camera]. The tutors and the examining board expressed, however, I was of Distinction level and they’ve said to take my talents further as it shouldn’t go to waste. I got a job after the course and with the money I’ve saved up, I’ve got a ticket to see one of the incredible gigs of my life – Slipknot, Machine Head & Children of Bodom on 9th December 2008. It was the song “Prosthetics” of Slipknot’s set that clicked [no pun intended] “I could have captured that moment with my camera”. After the show … well, I let you fill in the blanks from there! 
How would you describe your photography style?
As a wise photographer once said to me, there are no rights and wrongs, but as long you feel it is a great picture that meets the client’s requirements, it is a job well done. Coming from a self-taught background for nearly four years, my photographic style tends to change within time by techniques I gained through many assignments I’ve done. It could be a little alteration in my editing, an interesting method from a professional photographer being put into practice or whilst being on a photo shoot. I make sure the final product is authentic to the eye, but adding my own flair. It expands on my creativity and confidence in my work. The last thing you want your work to be is the same.
Your credits range from Soundshock, Ed Stone Rockwear, Punk Star (UK) and your photo work has featured in Metal Hammer as well as Roadrunner Records (UK) – what keeps you going?
With those achievements alone, I wouldn’t have thought my work would be recognised with some of the top names. Although I have a long way to go until I know I have reached that level of success, the amount of support since starting have been nothing more than delightful.
As a freelance photographer – what are the highs and lows of the job?
As you can see, there are many great things when doing this. You gain access to some of your favourite gigs and festivals; your work is recognised by potential clients and most of all, you get to have the time of your life being involved in the music scene. You meet new people and it is your chance to shine through networking with other professionals. Recently, I had two photography students from Canada and England to interview me as part of their reports as I’m one of the reasons why they started photography. Even when I am asked to do an assignment by one of my clients is a high in itself!
But, as someone greatly put it, it is a luxury lifestyle through minimum wage. Photography is an expensive job and as technology advances, you can’t do the job without raking a fortune on the latest equipment. Unless you’re working for a major magazine or you’re contracted with a client, it doesn’t pay your bills. Sometimes, you don’t know when your next assignment will be, so you have to find your own means of work. When all the fun and games are over, you will be constantly editing, networking and promoting your recent assignments to the world. It takes a lot out of your body and mind.
Recently, you were at Bloodstock Festival – please do give us some feedback.
I’ll be honoured to! I photographed the almighty Bloodstock Festival 2012 for two clients. One is coverage for my music website This Is Not A Scene and I had two photo shoots to promote a great clothing apparel Ed Stone Rockwear. So, prioritising the many bands playing across three stages to organising times for the clients’ photo shoots was a challenge worth achieving. On the first day of shooting, I had an accident in which stopped my workflow. But the amount of support I got from the photographers on the weekend was tremendous. They made sure I was okay, if I needed help and I could use their laptops if I was struggling to transfer work. I’ve seen through the weekend that the media are a very tight community striving to give it our all to make Bloodstock Festival one of a kind. The people ranging from The Noise Cartel PR, record companies, the management, the sponsors, the security, the fans and many more have been immaculate. In the end, with the intense work, it wouldn’t be complete without the memories. The music, stints on stage, laughs, an incident involving sleeping on the job, duck pout pictures and witnessing a sourball challenge balanced the chaos. It was a great festival with like-minded people with the same passion and I would it all over again!
Your portfolio has amazing shots from Spires to Lamb of God! What has been your most memorable assignment to date?
Thank you for great words on my photography! This is a tough one as each assignment is memorable to me in some way! The one that sticks to mind was when I was asked by my editors of This Is Not A Scene to be their photographer for Sonisphere Festival 2011 across all stages. This was my first ever festival to document and as you would expect, I was as nervous as anything! As the weekend went by, I became comfortable in my own skin. The moment when it finally hit me was on that heavy raining Sunday night whilst singing to every word to the emotionally-charged Slipknot stage set dedicated to the late great bassist Paul Gray. It made me realise “Wait, I was in the photopit photographing all of The Big Four [Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica], including legends Diamond Head! I photographed the British icons Motorhead! Holy Hell, I was …” It was at that point where I have something to prove in my work. I’ve worked very hard on getting to that stage [sorry about the pun] and to work alongside the professionals. I’ve met some great people and I’ve learnt so much just from that weekend. That gave me the insight that I shouldn’t quit after this.
What do you think of the rock/metal music photography industry at the moment and where do you see it 5 years from now?
So far, I hadn’t seen any problems as there are many new photographers wanting to do this and they have the same level of passion for the music in this line of work, apart from photo releases being used to some bands’ shows. I can’t exactly provide an answer as I don’t know what will happen in the next five years. As long as everyone supports each other and don’t get ahead of themselves, and then it will be good.
Is it true that you are from the gorgeous island called Mauritius but the United Kingdom is your home?

Well, it’s my parents who are from Mauritius. I was born in London, but I have lived in Manchester since the age of two. Learning from my parents of how life in a tiny island is difficult and to see how they’ve worked from the bottom of the gutter to where they are now, I am absolutely grateful to learn not to complain of what we have in this day and age! That gives me strength to work harder.
Apart from photography, what are your hobbies and interests?
Well, I keep my ideas flowing by going to Art galleries and being constantly inspired through the many aspects of life. I make sure it is all recorded in a diary of some kind, just in case of a photo shoot! I love going to gigs, whether I photograph or just being a punter. Since doing Zumba for a couple of years, it’s becoming a nice way to release some pent-up energy and keep healthy. With all the work, spending time with your loved ones is a great way to treat the soul. You need that to keep you going and sane more than anything. Every now and again, I like to go to a comedy show. I rarely watch TV but I do watch Metalocalypse, Robot Chicken and TV series The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Spartacus, and Game Of Thrones. I need to catch a few more! Who says photographers are boring, eh?
As a metalhead, do you have any must-have albums picked out for 2012?
As a proud metalhead for over eleven years, I’ve been confronted with many recognised and new artists with their blasts of metal. This year is no exception. Recent records released from artists like Katatonia, Testament, Gojira, Kreator, Moonspell, Anathema, Ihsahn, Cannibal Corpse and Devin Townsend Project shows how great 2012 is shaping. There are new bands like Alcest, Aborted, Mark Tremonti and Storm Corrosion in line too. There are artists from the local and UK scene such as Triaxis, Saturnian, Savage Messiah, Orange Goblin and Oaf as they are fast becoming just as great as some of the major bands. My Dying Bride, Stone Sour, Cradle Of Filth and Sylosis are the last bands of this year to check out too! I am going to have a difficult time choosing my best records of 2012! I can’t wait what 2013 will bring to us in metal!
What advice would you give to up-and-coming photography journalists?
All advice is based on experience I’ve been through and seen. Beware as it is a lot to take in. Document a music scene that you are comfortable in and support it. Bands work tirelessly for great music and they need your support for exposure to the public. You won’t get any attention with potential clients without a body of work. There are social media sites to reveal your adventures. Create a website and blog for your work. It is essential to have business cards and nowadays, an iPad on the go. Expect the work to be voluntary as you don’t get into major publications that easily. Once you get an assignment to document a gig by applying to a music publication, remember the rules of the photopit – respect the people involved and do not give others a hard time. They were once like you. Be wary of crowdsurfers and drinks that may come over the barrier as you will get a few knocks.  I’ve seen professionals go underappreciated whilst “fauxtographers” get more attention. It is a tough world out there so it is very important to stand out from the crowd with your own photographic style. Never copy or steal from others as there will be consequences. You’ll get critics assessing your work and even you can be your own worst critic. Ask the professionals for advice. I ask for constructive criticism so I’m aware of what to do for improvement for future assignments. You never know the accidents you may encounter so, it is important to have financial support in order to pay for your equipment and insure them.
With all of the advice, it all comes down to two imperative points if you decide to become a music journalist. The first is practice. That’s where all of the mentioned will fall into place. And the second is being careful once you take this profession. As AC/DC famously said “It’s a long to the top if you wanna rock and roll.” Don’t take it very lightly because it will be a journey of tears, tantrums and long hours if you want to succeed.
Are there any last words that you would like to add?
Remember, as an Artist, appreciate your work, embrace your achievements and learn from your mistakes. I am sure you have made some at one point. I have had mine and I’ve learned, hence I am carrying on loving what I do. Only you need to prove that you’re worthy of this. Be fearless and show other competitors that you are the competition.
Thank You Sabrina! Please [CLICK HERE] to access Sabrina Ramdoyal’s portfolio. You can catch Sabrina on TWITTER 

SOUTH AFRICAN METAL MUSIC SCENE

(Full article here)
Naturally, the comments that follow are quite hysterical!
There is a lot of questioning about the South Africa (SA) metal scene and how it differs from the international scene. It is difficult to write about such a topic from a bias perspective (myself being proudly South African) and it is even harder to write about a topic that will inevitably be ‘compared to’. So, this is an attempt to put some perspective on the SA metal scene or rather an attempt to give an opinion.
Firstly, does SA have a metal ‘scene’? Yes. This is established as a place of activity. Durban (the third largest SA city) might be dormant in the live music area but there are still underground places frequented by metalheads.
So, how did metal in SA begin? A fairly detailed article will be printed on this question in a well-established music magazine (when the Editor decides to send it to the printers). Until then, here is a nutshell: It began in 1984/5. Four bands namely Odyssey, Ragnarok, Mind Assault and Black Rose set the pace. These bands and many more defied Apartheid, authorities of state and religion to create something only they could define. There was little in the way of recordings and even less in metal media and music education. Though the bands pushed forward, independent music labels took the challenge and the wayward souls from around SA began to appear. More bands emerged from all parts of SA, each taking inspiration from international artists and putting their own spin on it. Remember, metal was and still is not commercial in SA and recordings are limited, so everybody has a very different take on what is “metal”. It took several years, a revolution in technology and an open-mind to create what we embrace today as the “SA metal scene”.
Fast forward to 2012; let me tell you what reallygoes on. Apart from the burgeoning financial crisis that almost every band faces – South Africa has other issues to contend with. Location is one of them. Geographically, SA is huge and there is a great Diaspora of local metalheads. It is one thing to ‘Like’ a band on Facebook and offer them online support. I do it, my friends do it but very few of us can get down to the next city and windmill at that band’s gig due to location. Not many (actually zero) major metal labels look below the equator line to sign bands. Also, with articles like the one above – why even bother with SA metal? It is a known fact in South Africa that there is a lack of metal venues. Pop, Hip-Hop, Kwaito and House music are the norm and such genres have been catered for with special venues that are easily seen in every town. A large portion of bars, pubs and grills cater for alternative music and unplugged music sessions. It is very generous of them but not very practical for the bands in the long run. Promoters of the metal music scene get the bitter end of the deal too. Without established venues, quality sound engineers and lack of media interest – their job is often cursed. Some promoters come and go and some put in laborious work hoping to change the scene – it is what I call a true labour of love. The standard of dedicated metal promotion is at an all time low and SA metal bands prefer to take DIY action. The internet and spew of social media is positive in this sense but online support and physically being at a gig are two separate objectives. Metal fans like festivals and SA is no different. The largest annual popular metal festival is RAMfest. The Fourie brothers came up with a good concept and followed through. It has been a success in recent years with fair feedback. Several new and smaller scale festivals have emerged since the early millennium. Recently, there has been a question burning down my throat about these festivals – was it worth my time and money? The answer varies and I often hear Maslow in my thoughts, “Man is a perpetually wanting animal.”
Festivals are risky business. SA metal festivals are even more risky business. A recent article by MusicReview shut down the ‘wanting animals’. If you want to see a metal act that you like in SA, go out and buy the album, single, poster and T-Shirt. Those genuinely supported bands will see good market value and be prepared to play at a decent price. Though a portion of SA metal fans fail to see this logic and take up internet trolling and piracy instead. I’ll dismiss piracy in SA as downright disgusting. These laws need to be tougher, Mr. President.
Despite all that is mentioned above, there are two things that in my opinion are very unique about South African metal (take note MetalSucks). The SA metal scene has major talented artists each creating their own brand of metal. There are one or two copy and paste metal bands in SA but there are at least 100 metal bands that have twisted, warped and shaped their own music. In doing so, there is a tinge of raw and unprecedented authentic quality in their screams, lyrics and compositions. Furthermore, SA metal bands are highly dedicated. A band never gives-up easily and if they do – legitimate reasons are often announced. Perhaps, SA metal acts know that hard work pays off in the end and such motif is evident in the history of our country.
The SA metal music industry is growing; yes it is slow but from what I know it is not “terrible”!
By the way if you don’t agree with this article, please don’t be a cunt about it rather present a logical argument.
 

THIS IS MY METAL LIFE: DANIEL MARSICANO



DANIEL MARSICANO

Music critic, Daniel Marsicano shares his side of the story about heavy metal music, that first listen to “Turn The Page” and how the internet has skewed our perception of journalism.

You have been writing for several years in several formats and positions. Why did you choose music journalism?


I’ve been into journalism ever since I was in middle school, helping my technology teacher write video game reviews for the school newspaper. I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, “The Accent.” When I got to college, I continued to study journalism. I never considered writing about music in any capacity until my freshman year. I saw an opening at 411mania.com for a staff writer in their music section.
I was a big fan of the site at the time, and it seemed like an interesting opportunity to undertake. I wrote a review of Chimaira’s “Resurrection,” which was good enough to land me a position on their staff. My first published review was for Machine Head’s “The Blackening.” From there, I worked on my writing, trying to improve with each review. It’s a process that I’m continuing to learn to this day.
There’s something about sitting down and expressing my thoughts on a piece of music that draws great appeal to me. Though I’ve only been doing this since 2007, I’ve developed a vast range of knowledge on music that I’ve very proud to possess. The metal culture itself, especially the people that write about and create metal, is unlike anything else out there. It’s one of a kind, and I’ve always felt accepted in it, even when I was struggling to find my literary voice in the early days.

Reading your work, I realize that your taste in metal music is rather eccentric. When and how did you get acquainted with heavy metal?

I have to thank my mom for opening me up to heavy metal. I still remember the first time I became entranced by metal. I was 11 and driving with the family down the backroads of New Jersey in the middle of the night. My mom was a big fan of the classic rock stations, so I became familiar with bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who early on. I didn’t pay much attention to the heavier stuff, as I was more into classic rock as a young kid.
That fateful night, the radio station was playing Metallica’s cover of Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page.” It was something about the power and force behind their version of the song that mesmerized me. I knew I had to hear more like it, so I picked up the “Garage Inc.” album immediately afterwards. That was the first metal album I ever bought.
From there, I was a slave to the metal machine. I began to do research, finding out about the artists that Metallica covered on the album. Bands like Black Sabbath, Diamond Head, and Motorhead became objects of my affection. Soon enough, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer entered the fray because of the “Big 4” association. Most of my high school years were building up my CD collection with every album from the “Big 4,” along with other metal artists of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to really dig deeper into metal, past the stuff that would be considered “mainstream.” That’s how I became interested in genres like death, doom, and black metal. I got recommendations from friends, spent hours on the Internet looking up bands, and tried to soak in as much about metal as I possibly could. I love listening to new music, whatever genre it might be. There isn’t one particular genre that I’m obsessed with; I honestly enjoy them all for different reasons.

Based in New Jersey, what can you tell us about the metal scene over there that we don’t already know about?


Like every place in the world, there are bands that have hit it big (The Dillinger Escape Plan, God Forbid, Overkill) and then are the underground darlings (Evoken, Ripping Corpse). However, there are plenty of up-and-coming bands looking for any kind of spotlight. Fantastic talents like Beyond Dishonor, Windfaerer, and Grimus deserve more coverage than they may get, and that’s what I like to do as a writer. I like to give bands working their way up the opportunity to get their music out to a bigger audience, whether it’s by interviewing them or getting a review up of their latest work.

As a part of About.com, SMN news, and Metal Underground – you have come across several releases. What are your “must have” album/EP’s for 2012, so far?


Well, it’s hard just to pick a few, as 2012 has been a great year so far for metal. The album that I will probably have near the top of my “best-of-year” list has to be Woods of Ypres “Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light.” No album this year has moved me the way that this album does, and it’s really a shame that David Gold is not around to see the positive response it has obtained. CattleDecapitation’s “Monolith Of Inhumanity” is just an insane death metal record, and seeing them play almost the entire album live reinforced how incredible the album is. For those looking for the lighter side of metal, Anathema’s “Weather Systems” is top-notch. In my opinion, it’s easily their best album since they switched to a more atmosphere style of music.


On that note, what are your “must watch” movies/films for 2012, so far?


This is a tougher question for me to answer than picking the “must-have” albums/EP. I love films, but I tend to stick to less contemporary material. More often than not, watch older films from the ‘70s and before; material from directors like Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese, before they got really big. From what I’ve seen this year so far, I would have to recommend “God Bless America,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” and “Cabin In The Woods.” That list will probably get bigger once I actually stop being cheap and go to the movie theaters more than once a month.

Do tell us more about your aspiration to be a novelist/screenwriter?


My aspirations as a novelist/screenwriter have only come about in the last few years. I never saw myself as the kind of writer that could handle a massive undertaking like a novel or a screenplay until my senior year in college. I took a creative writing course that opened my eyes to the potential I had as a novelist/screenwriter. Using an idea that I’ve had since I was 15, I wrote a screenplay in late 2010/early 2011 called “The Lost Soul.” I’m very proud of it, though it is collecting dust at the moment until I figure out what to do with it next.
With all the music writing I handle, it is hard to find time to fit in a novel, but I’m doing my best with that. It’s a slow process, but I hope to get something done in the next year or two. Being able to act creatively like this allows me to flex my writing muscles, and not be confined to reviews and interviews. I enjoy those as well, but I get a different kind of joy out of sitting down and fleshing out characters and stories that have come from my twisted imagination.

The internet has skewed the perception of “journalism”. What are your pet peeves about the press?


I went to school specifically to learn about journalism, so my definition of what journalism is differs from music writers who jump into the field with no writing experience. To me, what I do is not journalism. If I was out there, reporting on hard-hitting stories and breaking news involving music, I would consider myself a fedora-wearing journalist of the classiest kind. I think of myself as a music writer or a critic, but not a journalist.
Anybody who sits and regurgitates press releases to make “news” is not a journalist either. It takes no skill to copy and paste a press release someone else spend time working on, and plopping your name on it. That’s really one of my biggest pet peeves about the so-called “metal press.” Having a blog and throwing other people’s work up there with your name in the byline doesn’t make you a journalist; it just makes you a wily Internet basement dweller.
The Internet has very few avenues for compelling metal journalism; hell, in fact, it’s hard to find it in print too nowadays. Maybe I’m being very jaded or a cynical prick, but that’s how I see things. I have no issues with people going out there and trying to make a name for themselves in metal journalism, but it takes a lot more than being on a bunch of mailing lists to call yourself a journalist.

When you are not being a writer – how do you spend your time?


Since 90% of my life revolves around writing/listening to music, I find I don’t have much free time. When I do find it, I spend it working out, playing video games, watching obscure films, and reading. I’m trying to learn how to cook too, but that’s shaky territory at this point.

I read on your Twitter profile that you like 80’s romantic comedies – are you talking about “Say Anything” or “When Harry Met Sally”?


Both actually, though I would have to say that “Say Anything” is definitely one of my favorite ‘80s movies, period. I’m a big John Cusack fan, so that helps things a bit. I enjoy all kinds of ‘80s romantic comedies, especially “Moonstruck,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “My Crazy Summer.” Like music, I have a very eccentric taste in movies. I can watch “Cannibal Holocaust” one day and “Sleepless In Seattle” the next. I enjoy watching both of those movies in different ways, as well as everything from westerners and cheesy action flicks to artsy, low-budget indie films.

Are there any last words that you would like to add?


I just want to thank you so much for letting me be a part of this. Anybody interested in keeping up with my work or wanting to learn more about me can visit me on Twitter @heavytothebone2. I’m very sarcastic and a little goofy, but that’s where you can find any articles that I write. I’m more than happy to respond to any tweets sent my way as well!

Thank you, Dan Marsicano!

THIS IS MY METAL LIFE: EDWARD BANCHS



EDWARD BANCHS
Edward Banchs tells Air Guitar about his book on African Heavy Metal, expresses his opinions on Pussy Riot and talks about his obsession with guitars!

Please give a brief introduction of yourself?

Well, I was raised in a small industrial city/town in Central Pennsylvania, Altoona. I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I was 19 just to get out of that place. I wanted to pursue music. I started a band with some like minded gentlemen called Negative Theory and we gave it hell for four and half years. Playing thoughout the region; Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, even as far west as Arkansas. We shared the stage with bands such as DRI, Sworn Enemy and Rwake. We were dirty, loud and angry. I MISS IT! I left Pennsylvania for South Florida in 2004 just to get back into college (university as you may say). At the time, it appeared that our band was not going to do much. In retrospect we just needed a break. We got back together after five years to play with a band that we are all fans of, Architect (Syracuse, NY- Metal Blade). It was great seeing those guys again, they are my best friends. And I really do miss living among the mountains and winters of Pennsylvania. Florida is flat, hot and too much of a contradiction to my personality. I live in Orlando now, which is a little better than south Florida in terms of peronality. Who knows what the future has in store, maybe some more music with my best friends, maybe some change of seasons again. Florida lacks a proper autumn.

Into the gritty, how did you get introduced to heavy metal?

Growing up, my neighbor and I were obsessed with guitars and the sound that came from them. MTV, at the time, was heavy into the glam metal, and we ate it up, I even made a guitar out of carboard with the Poison logo on it! They were the local guys who ‘made it’, so everyone was into them…as was I. So I learned about the other types of metal through a show that he and I were told about, Headbanger’s Ball. Saturday nigths at midnight. Every Saturday, we soaked every note, of every band. Needless to say, the glam was ditched as the Anthrax, Skid Row tapes came in. Once the ‘90s came it was Helmet and Biohazard and even my Korn phase. Once I got into hardcore in the late ‘90s, extreme metal got into my radar. Here I am today with the same obsession.

You are based in Florida, what can you tell us about the metal scene over there that we don’t already know about?

The local musicians complain frequently and often, like anywhere else. They think that no one here cares. Often they are oblivious to the history of metal in Florida, and rock in general. Besides the death metal that are well known, all of which still call Florida home, bands like Marylin Manson, Poison The Well, Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, Saigon Kick, Nonpoint, and even Matchbox 20 and Creed, are among the many who started out of Florida. Lynard Skynard and Tom Petty are also with Florida origins, so the complaints are ridiculous. A local Orlando band that is doing well is Trivium, they will be the first to tell the work that is involved with getting a break music. The work ethic, the dedication, all are involved. In general, American bands are thought of as being in a great spot, and yes the opportunities here are better, but the work must be put in, all of the bands I mentioned worked ridiculously hard and were extremely dedicated to their passion. Luck goes a long way, but talent goes even further.
As far as who is up and coming, I must confess I’m oblivious. I go to few gigs, and local support is rare for the national and international touring acts.

Currently, you are working on a book about heavy metal in Africa. Do give us a short synopsis of why you have chosen to write about the once ‘dark continent’?

I am an Africanist. I studied the continent academically, I was an intern for a lobbying firm in Washington D.C. working the Diplomatic Corps on issues such as development, foreign policy and aid for Africa. I LOVE Africa. I have an MA in African Studies from the University of London. I want to earn a living somehow, someway working with Africa.  Aside from metal, it is the other aspect of my personality that I consume my self with. Everyday, I check the African news sites and the metal news sites. Everyday. So it made sense for me to pursue the book. I was tired of finding nothing about metal in Africa, and I knew it existed. I fear that many judge it as a novelty, and that is a gross misrepresentation of the genre in the continent. The photos of Africans with guitars were not taken seriously, often they were mocked and the comment boards were not kind. Thus, I want to write about the dedicated and passionate thoughout Africa that defend the faith everyday. Frank Marhsall, the photographer in South Africa, did a fantastic job of capturing the passion in Botswana, yet it is getting overlooked.
The idea was in my head for years, I just went for it. I was tired of telling people that metal in Africa was real. It is about time the metal world includes Africa in their conversation.

What are the myths about Africa that you would like to dispel – in terms of music?

Everyone has the image (outside of Africa) of the percussion cirlces, the chanting, the hymns, the prayer songs. While that is respectable, the demand for Western music is incredible in Africa. Heavy metal fans are no different. The beauty of the genre is its adaptability with tradition and culture. Quite often, many do not believe that this music exists in Africa, yet they can believe that hip-hop exists because of some bogus stereotypes. It is no different, a Western genre that spead globally, much like metal. Africa has long surprised people, hopefully African metal may do the same.
The generalization of Africa in Western culture is patronizing. Too many fall into the trap of generalizing an extremely disparate and diverse continent.  Few realize that Africans have the same interests, goals and passions as anyone else in the West would. My book is called, Heavy Metal Africa; Life, Passion and Heavy Metal in the Fogotten Continent, because I feel that Africa is fogotten as a result of stereotypes and generalizations.
I fear that the stereotypes of Africans is the biggest obstacles metal musicians in Africa are going to have to face. I hope my book changes that.

What can you share with us about your book, so far?

It is ambitious, it is challenging, and it is taking on a life of its own. It will be a while more before I’m near completing it, but I look forward to sharing it with the rest of the world. I’ve met the nicest, sincerest people throughout this process. There are moments where I’m so humbled by the generosity of everyone involved, I get even more motivation to keep going. They trust me, and that means the world to me.

What are the challenges of having to publish your book?

Books about Africa and Heavy Metal have small audience. The industry is very competitive, more so than music I feel, and it is taking a hit, much like music as a result of the pirating of books. So it is difficult  getting someone to take a chance on a new author writing about a topic that many already feel is a contradiction. But I am optimistic something will happen.

I’m going to be biased here and ask you, what do you think about the metal scene in South Africa? What do you like or dislike about it?

I love it. So many talented acts. Dedicated, passionate, and most importantly, in my experience, there is a mutual respect and a fraternity. Bands are proud of the other bands’ acheivements and applaud the other bands’ efforts. I LOVE it. Overall, throughout Africa I notice the same thing. Everyone is there to support each other in the ‘game’, as we say in the US. Great respect for each other. Too many good bands that stand out for me, I cannot just name them. I love the diversity of the scene, black metal, death metal, thrash, glam/sleaze, power metal, prog, metal-core, hardcore, and blues/stoner. I LOVE IT!!!

As a BA degree holder in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University, what are your thoughts about the punk-rock group Pussy Riot?

Well, well. Russia is showing itself to be the ‘free’ country is disguise. I applaud their efforts. They struck the wrong nerve with the government by protesting in the church, that perhaps hurt them in court. But the message was clear and in many ways, they won. They showed the world what sort of country Russia really is. Still!

What are your hobbies outside of music?

I read a lot, I explore vegan cooking , and enjoy sports here and there. I write about sports for theopinionation.com as well.

Are there any last words that you would like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity, thank you South Africa for having a great metal scene and I look forward to shaking all of your hands, sharing a beer with you and talking about metal! I need to get back out there soon. I love SA. Beatiful country, great people. All the best.

Guest Blogger: MARK ANGEL BRANDT


METAL AND ME ~ by Mark Brandt

One of the most enticing things about metal is its ability to take all sorts of people under its wing. Metal is a genre rooted in emotion; in its cheerier moments it makes you feel strong, empowered and united. In its gloomier parts, it is an enveloping and strangely comforting blanket of darkness. The diversity of the genre (to anyone more acquainted than a cursory glance) is truly phenomenal, stretching across more than a hundred countries and countless styles. It was only inevitable that one teen, a logophile disillusioned with the offerings of more mainstream genres, was going to fall into the trap, and its eccentric assortment of music and people.
By way of explaining why I do what I do, I’d like to tell you a story, traveling back to 2005. A boy, aged 14, possesses a music taste ranging from rap to smatterings of rock bands, but nothing particularly offensive. An older school friend has passed him a couple of albums with intriguing artwork. He chooses at random and clicks the CD into his player. What flows through appeals to his rap/rock-oriented senses, but there is an underlying darker atmosphere than what he’s accustomed to. It feels almost metallic, punchy and full of energy. He flips the jewel case, and reads the album title. Linkin Park’s Meteora.
Admittedly, not the classiest of entries into the metal sphere, but it is tough to deny that Linkin Park provides a solid gateway to discovering metal. What followed was a yellow brick road, stopping at Disturbed and others along the way, before a final accidental stumble onto Insomnium solidified my love of melodic death metal. I was hooked, and my research of metal bands drew me in further and further. The combination of melody, vitality and poetic lyricism appealed to me as a writer, particularly focusing on lyrics. The genre became irrelevant, I grew to love all of them, although the darker side was always interesting. Soon, I found a way to merge this new-found love of metal with the current love of writing.
Although my lyric-writing days faded at the age of 18, the love of writing and words continued. Due to a lack of metal-loving people in the proximity, I soon turned to the internet and its various forums, inexperienced with the genre but eager to learn. After finding myself saturated in band recommendations, I discovered I could be pickier with my choices, what with metal being a “diamonds in the rough” genre. Still searching for new music to listen to, a more analytical side opened up. Although I was nowhere near an expert, I still noticed patterns emerging, discovered full scenes of similar bands, and the dot-to-dot game became easier. I found myself improving at recommending albums for friends to try, based on their current music taste. It wasn’t long before my own reviews emerged on a blog, in the plethora already on the internet. A series of consequential events resulted in collaborations with like-minded sites (like this one), which resulted in me becoming firmly planted in the world of music journalism, much more quickly than I envisaged.
Far from the portrayed jet-set lifestyle that of course inevitably entails (sarcasm, gentlefolk) with working in the metal industry, music journalism is far from glamorous. Much like any writing-based job, it has its downsides, its deadlines, its stress. It can be quite demanding of your time, especially if you feel like a perfectionist. But the perks compensate: meeting wonderful individuals in the business, listening to high quality music (bracing yourself for the worse releases) and this wonderful feeling that you contribute something to the genre. The emotion you get when you see people taking influence from your recommendations, being a metal tour guide of sorts, is wonderful.
For all its squabbling and infighting, metal is a fairly united and passionate scene, and one that I love dearly, stepping aside the endless trivial arguments about lineups, bands and genres. Once that is removed, what is left is an entity still finding its feet, but each decade becoming steadier than the last. As a journalist who loves his job, I feel a sense of pride to be a part of this blossoming genealogy.

– Mark Angel Brandt (InAngelsHeadphones)

Brandt is a lover of music in most genres. At the moment, he is studying Russian and German. You can visit all his music musings at InAngelsHeadphones


Catch Mark’s writing at Metal Recusants, DeathMetalBaboon, A Metal State of Mind and (140 characters) on Twitter.

Guest Blogger: MATT HINCH



Air Guitar blog has one motto that is “Sin is the subject – metal is the teacher”. Interpret that as you wish. For guest blogger, Matt Hinch, metal has taught many great things as he muses over Air Guitar Blog‘s latest feature series, Metal and Me.

METAL AND ME ~ by Matt Hinch

When I was first put to the task of writing a piece based on the theme “Metal and Me”, I will admit it felt a little daunting. I mean, metal has been such a huge part of my life for so long that deciding just where to begin was a challenge. I might as well start back in my teen years. Compared to many of my peers, I was a late addition to metaldom. I was 19 before I was labelled a metalhead. In fact, my nickname in my first year of university was Metalhead Matt. (Sometimes Marilyn Matt. I was a big Manson fan.) But we can go back a little further than that. The first CD I ever bought was Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven. I bought it before I even had a CD player. A friend bought it for the Black Sabbath cover (“Planet Caravan”) and hated the rest of it. He sold it to me and that got the ball rolling. Slowly but steadily I moved away from grunge, alternative and rock until I basically adopted Dee Snider’s mantra, “If it’s not metal, it’s CRAP!”

Between those formative years and now, my tastes in metal have changed and expanded as different sources exposed me to different genres. I’d go through phases and so on but it was all just fuel for the fire. Which brings us to the present, where that fire burns hotter than ever. When I was younger, people kept telling me I would grow out of metal. It’s for kids they said. They couldn’t have been more wrong. I love metal more and more with each passing day. It’s become an integral part of who I am, of my identity. Especially online. My Twitter handle is MetalMatt_KofN. Forum usernames, MetalMatt. Blog comments, MetalMatt. Siri calls me MetalMatt. Everything. That’s how I see myself. That’s how I choose to be identified. I don’t even put a space between the two words because that would separate them. I don’t ever want to be separated from metal.

A suitcase full of metal – Matt Hinch with his Metal belongings
Photo credit: Becky Hinch
Even in the “real world” metal follows me. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a metalhead. Perhaps that’s because I wear my passion on my sleeve. Literally. I wear a band shirt almost every day. I’m the guy with the headphones on in the grocery store. Everywhere I go, I take metal with me. As soon as I hit the bottom of the stairs every morning, I turn on the music and it stays on all day. Unless my wife asks me to turn it off. (Love you, Hunny!!) I guess that’s basically how metal defines me. It’s much easier for me to express that than it is for me to define metal itself. That is very much left to individual interpretation. I worked in a record store and before I got there they had AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Rick Derringer (!!) in the metal section! No, No, and NO! I fixed that in a hurry.

Ironically, the things that I love about metal are the polar opposite of how I see myself as a person. I love that metal is loud, but I’m quiet and soft-spoken. I love the intensity and aggression in metal, but I’m laid back and shy. I love how varied, experimental and diverse metal is but I’m a non-spontaneous creature of habit and routine. But I can relate to some of the things I love most about metal. That’s the passion and commitment and sense of family. Most metal bands have to scrape and claw for everything that they get and you can’t do that without passion and commitment. And in my opinion, metal fans are the most passionate of all. It’s that passion that binds the greater metal community together. Bands, fans, labels, promoters, writers, we can all lean on each other and support each other. Like a family. All because of a deep shared passion.

Which brings us to the question of “What do I contribute to metal?” What’s my role in this big metal family of ours? I see my contributions and my role as being very similar to my role as a father. My role as a father is to be a provider and educator, someone to turn to for advice and protection. I work hard to provide my family with everything they need (84 hours this week!). I teach them and offer all the advice I can. And I will defend them to my last dying breath. If we translate that to metal, as a fan and writer, I support the bands by buying as many records as I’m able (not nearly as many as I’d like), buying merch and always paying for shows. I try and educate the fans and offer my advice on what to spend their hard-earned money on through my writing. My actual contributions in that respect may be small but that’s why I do it. Metal has given so much to me, enriched my life, been there for me to lean on, and so on that writing is really the least I could do. I can only hope that through my writing, the bands that I enjoy can somehow benefit from my time and effort. Hopefully monetarily, because we all have to make a buck. But even just through encouragement and advice, or just by making their day.We could all use a little pick me up now and again, especially if you’ve been living in a van for three weeks, surviving on free beer and $2 burritos and “showering” with baby wipes.

So it’s because of all that makes metal what it is, the energy, the emotion, the passion, the commitment, the sense of family, that as I would my own family, I will defend metal to my last dying breath. That all might sound a little over-dramatic, and I know there are all kinds of people “more metal” than me, but that’s who I am, that’s what I do, and that’s why I do it.
– Matt Hinch

Hinch is a Father. Husband. Metal freak and blogger. Bass player and singer (sort of). Bearded. Vegetarian since Apr. ’10  Contributor at Hellbound.ca

Catch Matt’s feisty writing on Hellbound, musical musings on Twitter as well as his own blog Kingdom Of Noise.