Metal-Rules.com 20th anniversary
September 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Metal-Rules.com. What started as the dream of one man and a couple of friends in an isolated region of Canada (the East coast island of Newfoundland), has become one of the largest, longest running, and most influential, Metal webzines on the internet.
Let’s set the picture. The Province of Newfoundland, due to its low population (roughly 550,666 people in 1995) and relative geographic isolation gets only a handful of Metal concerts a year, and sometimes none at all! The total number of gigging Metal bands from Newfoundland in the mid-90’s were perhaps fewer than 10! (EvilG was actually in one of the few Metal bands, Oberon, founded in 1996.) Newfoundland was about as far away from the Metal hotbeds of NYC, LA, Tampa, Helsinki, Stockholm, London, Berlin, or Tokyo as you could possibly be. So you may be surprised to learn it all started in Newfoundland, Canada and is run by volunteers. Many people think we are a European site, and have a large paid staff! If they only knew… 🙂
EvilG embraced the internet early, and realized that geographic isolation didn’t matter in the dawning of the new digital age. He founded Metal-Rules.com with its battle cry of “Supporting REAL Metal“. Like most webzines, it started with little to no money, and a small audience, as the internet as we know it was still in its infancy. Through blood, sweat and beers, recruiting friends, volunteers, and hammering away learning primitive (by today’s standards) HTML programming we had a few milestones.
Over 20 years MR became one of the few bastions of REAL METAL on the internet. Never catering to trends, our industry reputation is stellar, our productivity is endless, and our content is king. We have more book reviews, interviews, concert reviews, DVD/video reviews, and of course album reviews than virtually every other Metal webzine on the planet. Think about that. Our archives are a massive treasure trove of photos and interviews that extends back 20 years. We often have people contacting us for information on projects they are working on, documentaries, books, and academic papers. Many new bands have had their first exposure here, their first interview, their first CD review, etc. As well, it’s always a pleasure to interview and cover the titans of Metal. This is what drives us volunteers to continue to support REAL METAL for 20 years…and onwards.
Thank you, the reader, causal, loyal and the die-hard, from dozens of nations around the world, for reading each and every day. We hope you enjoy our 20th anniversary feature!
Early Staff Days
EvilG founded the site by himself 1995. He didn’t sit down with anyone with a master plan on where the site would go. According to EvilG, “I remember being at university, and accessing the internet and the brand new ‘web’. Of course, the first thing I searched for was ‘heavy metal’ – and in 1995 there was very little of that to be found so I started collecting links to the few band sites I found and made a page for that. This turned into adding some reviews, and it all blossomed from there in an organic fashion.”
In 1998-99 some of the first staff who joined EvilG in this metal madness were fellow Newfoundlanders: Rick, CelticBob, Joe, Pete, and fellow Canadians – and longtime contributors – Waspman and JP. Soon thereafter, some staff from the USA joined the team. Names like Los Muertos, Ice Maiden, El Cid, Nathan Robinson, Night of the Realm, Lord of the Wasteland, etc., joined the team in the late 90’s/early 2000. Around this time, the Metal-Rules.com team Finland joined (Arto, Marko, and Luxi). Over the decades, peoples lives changed (jobs, kids, availability, interest, etc.) and some of the staff had to either step down entirely or scale back their input. Everyone was, and IS always welcome to return of course.
- The first CD review to appear in Metal-Rules.com was Fear Factory’s DEMANUFACTURE in September 1995.
- First home video review came in August 2000 and is for Hammerfall (on VHS!) with the release The Templars Of Heavy Metal.
- First book review came in July 2000 with “Fire, Blood, Metal and Money” by Michael De Los Muertos (who later joined staff for a number of years).
- First Interviews:
- The first interview was done via email with Wiley Arnett of Sacred Reich in January 1996. Wiley himself was an early adopter of the new “world wide web”.
- The Great Kat (Mar. 3, 1997)
- James Murphy (Jan 1997)
- Brian M. – Insult II Injury (Jan. 1996)
- Some early interview were done by fax (Ian Gillan) and by snail mail (Flotsam & Jetsam) but most were done by email and phone.
- First Concert Reviews:
- Iron Maiden (Pine Knob Theater, July 1999)
- Testament / The Haunted (The Jaxx, August the 14th, 1999)
- Nevermore (July 3, 1999)
- Iced Earth, Anvil, Motley Crue….
- Death, Hammerfall, Helloween (Late ’98)
- Metallica: Live at the Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver, Sept.4, 1998)
- Slayer: PNE Forum Vancouver, August 4, 1998
- HAMMERFALL & GAMMA RAY: ATHENS, RODON CLUB Oct.13, 1997
- Manowar: Wetlands, NYC. Jan. 1997
- Machine Head: Santa Barbara, CA. April 8th 1997
- Ozzfest ’97: May 24, 1997, Virginia.
- Ozzy Osbourne: Worcester, 1/20/96
- Anthrax: Wolverhampton civic hall, England.
- First Hell’s Heart (Editorial)
- “Why Metal Rules” (Dec. 2000)
- Other early topics include:
- June 2000 – MP3’s: Good or Bad?
- May 2000 – Should metal remain underground?
- April 2000 – 80’s Metal
- March 2000 – Metal Prejudice
- First Poll: Top 5 metal vocalists (sometimes in 1996), Others followed such as The Best of 1997, etc.
Metal-Rules.com started adding news sometime in the late 1990’s – we forget exactly when. Our stored archives go back to May 2004. According the way back engine, there are some news snapshots from 1999 with stories on: S.O.D., Savatage, Gamma Ray, Dimmu Borgir, Iron Maiden, etc. Here’s a snippet of an amusing early one.
Site Designs Throughout the Years
Anyone remember this old logo from 1997-8?
Example of main page from 1999
Main Page From 2000
Through several years of hard work, learning web design, contacting labels and bands, the site started to grow. Early on, EvilG made a commitment that the site would be mostly ad-free, and in the spirit of true Metal, there would be no compromise on content to placate labels, bands or advertisers. In fact, even today, despite the enormous monetary potential of our popular site, we still decline offers as to maintain our integrity. That’s why unlike so many other Metal webzines, ours is not totally splattered with ads.
Metal-Rules.com Highlights and Milestones
10,000th CD review: Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance
(this one was specifically chosen by EvilG to commemorate the 10,000th review.
1000th interview John Ricci (Exciter) Conducted by Anders Sandvall on August 14th, 2011
1000th concert review: Iced Earth in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 16th, 2014 by Anders Sandvall
Other major milestones include:
- Metal-Rules merchandise (t-shirts)
- MR opens UK branch: 2008
- First 70,000 tons of Metal
Metal Rules Radio/Records…
We had an online radio show off and on over the years, but we gave it up in 2005 as it wasn’t worth the time we were putting into it. The Metal-Rules.com Radio Show began on Snakenet Metal Radio. The show first aired on their station on Thursday September, 21st 2000. It was hosted by EvilG and Rick from Metal-Rules.com. It lasted until 2003 until they had less and less free time available to properly continue the show. The show for Snakenet was pre-recorded and was hosted. Each 60-90min show took about 3 to 5 hours EACH to mix together. After some downtime they did a non-DJ’d daily show on the now defunct FightForRock.com radio station for much of 2004. In 2005 the show was canned.
Metal Rules Records was our attempt at starting a record label. It’s been on hiatus but it did produce two really cool gems. Firstly was the compilation, Metal-Rules.com Volume I (Mastered by Mark Briody from Jag Panzer), and secondly was the debut album from Sweden’s Viperine.
STATEMENT FROM EVILG
20 years seems unreal. Yes, it feels like I’ve been running this site for a long time, but wow. Time marches on, and seems to speed by faster as the years go by. It’s neat to reminisce about the past two decades and see how the metal side of the web has grown, how other sites have come and gone, and how some have become huge behemoths. There’s a little bit of sadness looking over old content as I miss the input, humor, and dedication from some staff that have left us…and in one case, a staffer has not only left Metal-Rules.com, but this mortal coil (R.I.P.Hanntu).
In the earlier days of this site, I got to do more writing, reviewing, and interviewing. It was all just me at the very beginning when I started the site. This was at a time when metal was not looked upon that favorably in North America (1995). Thankfully, things have changed since then, and I do believe that it’s because of the Internet and the connections we all make, and have made, though the forums, webzines, and now social media, that metal is doing well.
I still listen to just as much metal as ever, but in the past number of years most of my Metal-Rules.com time has gone into running the site (editing, managing, working on the back-end of the site, adding content, etc.). When I look back at what some highlights have been, it’s been the two things. First is the relationships forged, sometimes with staff members quite a ways away from me who I imagine I’d enjoying spending time with talking metal etc. Then there are the memories of some interviews that while special at the time, have since become something I’ll never forget. For example, speaking on the phone with legends such as Ronnie James Dio, King Diamond, Tom G. Warrior, and many others.
Overall, I’m proud of what we’ve all accomplished with little to no money, without any financial backing, and with very little advertising. I plan to keep this site running for as long as possible. Hopefully there will be many more anniversaries that we will celebrate!