To start with,being a metal journalist is completely different from being an ordinary music journalist. Unlike the music journalist who would review the latest Jazz album to hit stores, over coffee by the fire, the metal journalist would rather like to find themselves in a pit in Wacken or shouting out Maiden! Maiden! alongside another fifty thousand metal-heads at a Matter of Life and Death, Promo Tour gig.However being a metal journalist is harder than being just another music journalist,and here I will cover what I believe to be The ten commandments of Rock Journalism.
01. Know your music-To be a music journalist, let alone being a metal journalist,you have to know your music. This might sound a bit obvious,but I personally know quite a lot of people,who do not really know what the Locrian mode is,but will criticize the latest Cannibal Corpse album for not being melodic enough.
Yes, melodic, I said! To be honest,you can't really explain the evil element that you feel when listening to Black Sabbath's Black Sabbath, without knowing the Tritone or Diabolus in musica, can you? But, funnily enough, people try to.
02. Know your metal-Just knowing the theory behind Sabbath will not make you a metal journalist. You have to know your metal. Assume you are reviewing Drowning Pool's latest Studio Album Full Circle. You have to know and mention, how Drowning Pool has evolved throughout the years with vocalists ranging from Dave Williams to Jason Gong Jones and Ryan McCombs. The vibe you felt when listening to Full Circle, is not just enough,you have to be able to notice the difference between the vibe you felt when you first listened to Tear away and the vibe you felt listening to Full Circle.
03. Be open to all forms of metal-You may already know this, but metal is the single genre within which one can find the most number of sub-genres. I will save the list of all the metallic sub-genres for another post. So, yes, as a metal journalist you have to be equally open to all these sub-genres. One minute you'll be looking upon a wall of death at a Lamb of God concert, struggling with words as to how to put it into words to appear in your live gig review. And the next, you'll be scribbling down your album review of HIM's And love said No!. This also includes appreciation towards other forms of music too(Note:In my point of view, Timbaland does not fall under other forms of music. Add Hilary Duff to it too, if you want). For instance to appreciate(appreciate is the key word here) Nevermore's cover of Simon and Garfunkle's Sound of Silence, not only do you have to listen to both, the original and the cover, but have to be able to notice the significant difference of the sounds brought into the same song, by two different artistes.
04. It's not just the riff-Metal has a lot of elements within it. The most amateur metal band may produce a demo which can more complex than all the Christina Aguilera albums put together. So, when reviewing metal, draw focus onto every single aspect of it. It will take you from the lyrical meaning of Iron Maiden's Rain Maker to the fake spot just above Dee Snider's lips. All these elements make metal what it is. It is not Hit me baby one more time kind of music. It is extremely complex, and this what I believe to be the reason behind the stigmatization of metal. So, as a metal journalist, you should dive into every thing within it.
05. Listen/watch/read before you write-This is an essential part of metal. Maybe it is due the complexity of the genre. Whatever the reason is please know what you are going to review about. When reviewing an album please try to listen to the full discography of the band before hitting the paper. May it be a documentary, a DVD, an album or a book, have a thorough understanding of it, before you write. People need an in depth discription, it has to be innovative and factual. They don't need to read a boring article on your first time experience as a Kamelot fan, they want a sneak peek of their new album before they buy it. What it is like, have they changed the sound, all that. Know what you are going to write about.
06. Have your say-You are a metal journalist, you are supposed to be loud. And Heck!Why not?Be harsh if you want to, but please be insightful too. People don't read metal journals to learn swear words, they wouldn't mind the occassional swear word every now and then, but it's not the point. I can mention a hundred very harsh reviews I consider as constructive critism. One such is the Kerrang!review of Disturbed's Ten Thousand Fists, where the writer mentioned the slappable face of David Mad Draiman. If you have a lengthy but factual and interesting article in line but not sure about the length,don't worry.Write it as it is.Metal fans are metal fans. There's no such things as a Die-Hard metal fan,you are either a metal fan or not. So they will always read it no matter how long it is, as long as it is not boring. They can spend an extra minute or two. That's the speciality of being a metal journalist, you know your fans will always be there.
07. Be you-As obvious as it may sound, being unique is crucial. Have your inspirations, learn from them, but never imitate. Personally, I have been inspired(or maybe influenced, because music plays a major role, inspiration is not strong enough a word) by Malcolm Dome alot. But I know for a fact that I cannot be Malcolm Dome, and I don't want to fall under the list of copycat journalists. You may have a different approach, never try to change it becuase that's not how Malcolm Dome or Steve Gett writes. People don't need a Steve Gett. Jr, they know Steve Gett and expect something different from you.
08. Prepared be hammered and hammer back-This is a part of metal. The occassional hammering from whom I would like to call the third party may occur at any moment. So be prepared,and never retreat. You are metaller,you know what Dee Snider went through following Twisted Sister's induction into the Filthy Fifteen by the PMRC. But didn't that help to sculpt Twisted Sister into what it is? So, welcome hammering!It's a sign of success!!!
09. Go against the rules-That's what metal is all about. Do not stick to the traditional by the couch reviews. Reviews coming out of scribbled notes written in the pit at rock gigs have proven themselves to be the best live show reviews ever. I am not promoting alcohol or anything, but the best interviews have usually taken place over vodka and beer. Remember the Mayhem interview with Sam Dunn? Ah,now you are getting it!!!
10. Finally, Just be Metal-Yes, just be metal, stay true the sound, the vibe, the lyrics, the culture. Metallers don't care whether you are black, brown or white, they(or should I say we?) don't care whether you are from Norway, Sweden or Sri Lanka,as long as you can give the metal horns when Dio gives you the metal horns,you are in, and we are stronger than anyone. Just stay true the people. Remember what the late Dimebag Darrell said? He said: The thing about us is that we stayed on the ground level with the fans. We never rode above the fans. That's not just any guitarist, that's Dimebag Darrell friends. Never ride above the fans!!!
~We miss you,Dime!!!~