Thursday, 25 June 2009


Here it is, then. My first blog. Actually, it’s not my first blog. I started doing this a couple of years ago and lost interest so quickly that I took my own breath away. Partly, I suspect, I simply didn’t have the time or the inclination to clutter the internet up with yet more self-absorbed ramblings…and Christ knows, that appears to be the whole point of blogs in the first place. Frankly, neither I nor 99.9% of the people that write these things are in any way interesting or witty enough to make the whole tawdry debacle remotely worthwhile. And yet here I am again, drawn back into a world where I arrogantly try to present my idle, mundane thoughts as some kind of compelling reportage on my life and the state of the world blah blah blah blah blah…and so on, ad infinitum, until we’re all staring slack-jawed and blank-eyed at our monitors, brains dribbling like opaque treacle out of our under-used ears, brains saturated with inane drivel and an overwhelming sense of futility. Kill yourself now. You might as well.

Let’s try that again.

Here it is, then. My first blog…in a while. To be truthful, when I sit and contemplate the value (or otherwise) of my opinions, whether they be on music (which I know quite a lot about) or politics (slightly less so) or anything else (virtually fuck all, but possibly more than you) , I’m always drawn to a mental image of some of the utterly vapid and pointless people that work in the media in this country. Not that I’m totally dismissive of the industry that pays my wages, obviously. Some of the finest individuals I know work at music magazines, but their qualities as people seem to have arisen in spite of their chosen profession rather than as any direct result of some supposed creative skill or zeitgeist-fondling acumen. Hearing the news this week that Conor McNicholas is following Kerrang!’s Paul Brannigan to those well-trodden “pastures new”, leaving the NME crumpled, violated and demeaned in a ditch somewhere in Hoxton, I was prompted first to emit a little cheer…not for any real reason…it’s not like I know much about Conor McNicholas other than that his ears stick out, he hasn’t got the faintest clue about rock music and he’s appeared on a few of those composite list programmes on the telly, spouting idiotic nonsense…and then I shed a metaphorical tear for the state of the magazine he leaves behind. With a heavy heart, I have to say I feel the same way about Kerrang! too. I used to read both religiously when I was a teenager (and Sounds, which died a natural death before it went downhill…probably a good thing, with hindsight) and, of course, I wrote for Kerrang! for seven years and have the mag to thank for my “career” (cue derisive laughter) as a music journalist. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take any great joy from seeing two once-great magazines being systematically destroyed by preening, careerist pricks (and I don’t mean Mr. Brannigan; a fine and decent man who probably should’ve bailed out a couple of years ago), but that’s patently the situation as it stands. As far as the NME goes, they’ve been flailing around cluelessly for years, bereft of any kind of coherent identity and rather more in love with themselves than their readers (I always imagine the NME office to be like a scene from Nathan Barley…a TV show that the magazine’s editorial team doubtless loved but completely failed to acknowledge was, in essence, about them as much as anyone), continually hedging their bets, taking mindless pot-shots at Morrissey and throwing their weight behind a succession of landfill indie twaddle and the kind of pretentious post-Doherty shite that resonates for ten minutes and then heads back to the dole queue, pockets full of smack. Kerrang! is an entirely different story. I spent years cheerfully defending that magazine, explaining to distraught metal fans that (a) there were still people fighting for metal at Kerrang!, and that (b) the proliferation of lightweight rock and indie/pop bands appearing in the mag were simply a necessary evil imposed on the editorial staff by the powers-that-be, who were drunk with power after a few freakishly successful years spent “rebranding” (try to type that without retching) and expanding into TV, radio and so on. When I left Kerrang! it wasn’t because of some haughty principle. I thought it was in decent shape at the time, albeit still not quite as enthusiastically metallic as it deserved to be. I left because I could see a great team of genuinely decent and honest people being assembled at Metal Hammer and, once a few other personal factors were thrown into the mix, I couldn’t see any reason not to join them. At the very least, and this has been borne out over time, I would get to write about music that I love and care about, rather than fighting for scraps and arguing with the aforementioned preening, careerist pricks just to be able to scrape a living and feed my family. I love it at Metal Hammer. It’s fucking awesome. The people are awesome, the magazine is awesome…even the readers are awesome, despite a worrying penchant for dressing up as pirates. They’ll grow out of it.

Ultimately, I doubt that more than a handful of people give a shit which magazines I write for, my reasons for leaving one and joining another, or what I think about the current state of two magazines that, in fairness, still sell pretty well considering the current climate. But anyone who knows me relatively well will know that the one thing I don’t lack when it comes to music is passion. I genuinely care about music, perhaps more than is strictly healthy, and as worthy and pious as it sounds, music remains sacred to me, even to the extent that I’m prepared to sabotage my own career to avoid joining the ranks of the soulless and the self-obsessed. That’s one of the reasons I don’t live in London. That’s why it makes me wince every time I pick up a copy of the NME or Kerrang! and see yet more vacuous, corporate shite being shoulder-barged into their pages in the breathless pursuit of more 14-year-old female readers. That’s why really I hate being in artificial social situations with music industry folk who don’t really care if I live or die, as long as I don’t shatter the façade of “ooh, this is all really brilliant and important!”…you know, that whole Radio 1 thing, wherein everything is “brilliant” all the time, even though it plainly isn’t to anyone with ears and a brain, and really we’re all just media whores, greedily sucking each other off in a wild and spiralling dance of death and self-loathing, as magazine sales plummet, kids’ attention spans recede and intelligence gets sneered at because it doesn’t really make anyone any money. Christ, I hate the fucking music industry.

And yet, I love it too, because it gives me the opportunity to write about some amazing music and share my passion and enthusiasm with kids who want to buy into the whole heavy metal thing that means so much to me and many of my friends. That’s the problem facing the NME and Kerrang!: do they employ new editors that actually give a toss about music and the joy of shared experience that it brings, risking lowered commercial expectations but retaining some shred of soul and intellect, or do they employ odious, jumped-up, coke-snorting careerists who think that music is simply a lifestyle choice and nothing more and who care more about the size of their salary, a quick but shallow boost to their withered self-esteem and another forward lunge into the black heart of the self-congratulatory, spunk-flecked abyss of the meeja biz? I’d like to pretend that I don’t care. But I do. Good jobs for good people with good intentions, that’s what I say. Fuck the cynics and the careerists and the pointless, flatulent wankers that think that Katy Perry and Fall Out Boy and Scouting For fucking Girls are “important” and "cutting edge", and that Slipknot and Machine Head are silly and dumb and inconsequential. Fuck them all in the eye. Hard. And then go and buy Metal Hammer. It may not be perfect, but at least we try. At least we give a shit.

Here it is, then. My first blog…maybe I should drink less coffee. Whatever. Cheers.


  1. Dom - agree with you wholeheartedly, mate. I've read Hammer every month since 1993 (my first issue was the one when Bruce left Maiden - it had Eddie and Doro Pesch on the cover) and have always loved the fact that you guys didn't go down the route of covering five-minute-wonder indy wank like Kerrang did (and still does). Even though bands like Green Day, Blink 182, Queens of the Stone Age, Prodigy or even Nirvana aren't metal - strictly speaking, neither are AC/DC or Aerosmith - they are appreciated by metal fans on a certain level and an album or gig review on these types of bands is enough. Kerrang took it too far and alienated their readership by doing that whole 'Planet Rock' and 'Music With Attitude' stuff, and trying for mainstream acceptance by going for the Radio 1 Jo Whiley bandwagon jumping crowd, who like to reference metal bands when they seek credibility (Chris Moyles with his tongue up Ozzy's arse, saying he loves Ozzy's music but couldn't name any songs or albums, or Jo Whiley being patronising when playing Slipknot, clearly not knowing anything about them or their music, etc). Quite frankly, as a metal fan who likes most things from Maiden and Priest through to Morbid Angel and Mayhem, I wasn't interested in Ash or Skunk Anansie. Kerrang changed around 1995, when they decided their readers didn't want to read about bands who weren't in the top 40. They didn't understand that the reason we read Kerrang was that it was one of the few places (along with yourselves and Terrorizer) that we could hear about the bands we like who weren't on the radio or TOTP. Anyway, I struggled on with Kerrang, purely because it was weekly so if there was any major news, I could read it while it was fairly fresh, until about eight years ago, when I just gave up. Fightstar and Avril Levigne just don't do it for me, don't give me that cutting edge FUCK YOU attitude, as much as Machine Head, Soulfly or Slayer.
    Budget retraints involved in raising a family forced me to ditch another magazine, so Terrorizer had to go as well. I liked it but when they feature 20 bands a month and I've only heard of about 5 of them, and I'm no stranger to metal, then I figured Hammer was the one to stick with, as they covered pretty much all of the bands I loved, and introduced me to a few new ones too. It's not just reading a mag either as I also love getting involved with all the other stuff you guys do (as you may have already guessed).

    Anyway, keep up the good work and keep Defending the Faith.

    See you on Twitter.

    Chris Ward

  2. Perfectly summed up. nice one Dom!

  3. Wow! that is my impression after reading your blog. I was very moved by your article and I feel like I feel encouraged after reading it. I now have a sense of hope that there are still people out there that are writing what I want to read. Keep up the excellent work and thank you. dvlshangel


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