Editorial - The End of Metal Maniacs (??!!) and Metal Media as We Know It
Metal Reviews

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Reviewed by Alex

I just got home after a family vacation, feeling all rejuvenated, only to be faced with a couple of heartrending news. First, my alma mater is considering cutting men’s hockey program. True, the team has not been performing well as of late and the arena has not been packed to the brim, but this is an unthinkable anathema in our community in general and my family in particular. This lament, of course, does not belong on these pages, so I won’t go on.

Second, and this one relates to the metal listening world directly, the renowned Metal Maniacs magazine is rumored to be closing its doors. It turns out the internet is full of this buzz, but apparently I have been the last to learn. How? Why? My mind can’t simply embrace the notion I won’t be getting my magazines in the mail, and my heart can’t possibly accept losing this fine resource of metal knowledge.

Ever since I learned about the magazine’s existence, probably somewhere around 1997, I have been a loyal subscriber, never to have missed a subscription renewal. Two huge shelves in my office are full with magazines read from end to end. Over the years not only have I learned to admire the wittiness and wordsmithing skills of Maniacs writers, I have gotten to know some of them personally, through their metal public relations firms, promoting bands I got a chance to review for Metal Reviews. What is going to happen to these people now?

The latest Maniacs editress Liz Chiavarella was doing an awesome job, trying to maintain magazine’s viability, its appeal to readers both old and new, while trying to preserve its underground independent spirit. The content was getting a bit condensed, interviews shorter, some sections were eliminated, while ads grew more numerous. And, still, the publisher pulled the plug. What is it? A sign of the times? Can we expect a small niche printed publication to survive in the times when the list of obituaries for American newspapers, which existed for generations, grows on a daily basis? Is this the world spread economic crises which is finally getting close to home? I fully realize that there are millions of people out there with bigger problems than no more college hockey on weekends and no favorite magazine to read, but it did sting. Just like the knowledge of 5 or 6 people, who I went to graduate school with or had a chance to work with, losing their jobs in the last 6-9 months.

Or, are we ourselves, as metal fans, responsible for this printed publication demise, shunning it for the quick condensed fix of metal news via internet? Subscriptions have to be renewed and dollars have to be paid, while internet is always there and it is dirt cheap or, in some cases, completely free. Could many of us have dug the grave for something those same many of us used to learn about new bands, sample reviews for new and archive releases, read interviews with metal heroes and clip out our favorite bands’ posters?

As a scientist by trade, I am always trying to promote the use of a new technology. But the fan in me revolts, pulling for something completely old-fashioned. In fact, for the longest time I meant to write an editorial on many labels trying to switch to digital downloadable promos. Promo production and mailing costs aside, countless pounds of plastic and paper saved, I still can’t stomach the idea. As if almost given up to the newer generation of fans going for downloads instead of CD/LP purchases, the labels are goading reviewers to go that way as well. I proudly buy my CDs, just like I never stopped subscribing to the printed version of Metal Maniacs never fully embracing the website format. Lots has been said about why and whether people should download or buy their music, the pages or our website notwithstanding, so I will abstain from the preaching. To each his/her own. However, as a reviewer I have given myself a solemn promise long time ago. I will always give preference to the band/label/PR firm, who went the length to get me a hadcopy promo, be it the one with or without the booklet, or even a simple CDR with a xeroxed copy of the lyrics. I appreciate the effort made to make their pitch heard, and will do all I can to reciprocate. The day all labels decide to open digital account for their reviewers will be the day I quit writing reviews. Consider it a pet peeve, if you wish.

And so I went on a tangent, combining two issues into one single editorial without reaching a conclusion or providing a homebound message. The evidence is clear, the face of music media, metal including, is changing. In a few years will I be mourning the ability to buy a CD, just like today I am delving in the sad remembrance of many an hour spent holding a fresh Metal Maniacs issue? I hope the time never comes, just like I hope Liz and Co. can find it in themselves to somehow reopen, maybe with a different publisher, or in a different guise. I will be there to support them, as usual, with my subscription check in tow.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted
Other albums by Editorial that we have reviewed:
Editorial - Eulogy for the Elder Statesman of Heavy Metal - Ronnie James Dio reviewed by Marty and quoted
Editorial - Care to Show Your Support for Metal Reviews? reviewed by Alex and quoted
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