Released: 2011, Bazillion Points
What a superb concept. To compile all the issues of a legendary, underground fanzine into a book is brilliant. I’m surprised no one has done it before. Back in the early to mid-80’s, Jon ‘Metalion’ Kristiansen of Norway started a little fanzine called Live Wire. It evolved into Slayer Mag and it was published periodically between 1985 and 2010 for a total of 18 issues (or 20 depends how you count) Over time it became regarded by many as one of the best Metal ’zines on the planet.
To be frank, I never read Slayer Mag. Jon’s home in Sarpsborg, Norway is pretty much the exact opposite (in terms of global positioning) from my home in Western Canada. You just couldn’t get it out here in the 80’s. Being in Western Canada it was hard to access any sort of Metal magazines let alone European fanzines and I was never a huge ‘zine guy to begin with. Besdies, I already had 3-4 Canadian ‘zines I followed. Over time I heard of Slayer Mag and knew of it’s good reputation by reading fanzine reviews in other fanzines. I ‘think’ I might have read one issue once, borrowed from a friend in Vancouver, but it’s probably my mind playing tricks on me. I can’t claim to be any sort of authority so that’s why to me this book is so special as it puts everything into one big beautiful package.
This tome is absolutely gorgeous and hideous all at the same time. It’s hard cover and weighs a ton clocking in at over 720 pages long! Every issue is included, re-printed in it’s entirety along with tons of bonus content such as a number of full-colour glossy plate photos, rare photos taken by Metalion himself. Each issue is preceded by a long introductory comment by Metalion, who provides a fascinating insight into the creative process and a peek into the twisted mind of it’s creator. I don’t think he would mind me calling him twisted or ‘strange’ as he might be the first to admit he is different. You might come to the same conclusion after reading the overview of his life-long obsession with and dedication to underground Metal. The book has no less than 7 (!) forewords from such notables as Chris Reifert (Autopsy), Fenriz (Darkthrone), publisher Ian Christe and his colleague, friend and editor, Tara G. Warrior.
As for the content of the issues themselves, it is very interesting just to see the layout, design, the artwork, logos, photos, cartoons, play-lists, editorials and more. The look of the ‘zine is a classic cut and paste all lovingly done by hand. Talk about the interviews! Nobody pulled any punches. Ever! That was (and still is) part of the appeal. There are countless first hand interviews with underground bands (primarily Thrash, Death and Black Metal bands) before anyone knew (or cared) who they were. Slayer Mag was pioneering in every sense of the word. Much of it’s underground credibility stems from unrestrained and uncensored interviews with the participants of the early Death and Black Metal scene.
It is interesting to follow the evolution of the Mag from it’s humble origins as Live Wire written in Norwegian by an enthusiastic teenager in 1983 to issue 20 released in 2010, by a jaded veteran, almost as an afterthought (six years had lapsed since #19) or perhaps the final nail in the coffin. From an academic perspective, it is also equally interesting to observe the evolution of Metal itself via the issues. Some people will focus exclusively on the extra-curricular activities of, and the relationship between, Metalion and his friends, Dead, Euronymous, Varg, and Jon from Dissection but this collection truly transcends that brief (perhaps unfortunate) moment in time. I suppose in today’s modern terms, Metalion was ‘embedded’ in that scene and he writes quite extensively about it in his introductions to the various early 90’s issues.
I hope that the publication of METALION-THE SLAYER MAG DIARIES starts a trend of other authors and publishers compiling other sets like this. Being Canadian I’d love to see a reprint compilation of Metallion Magazine, M.E.A.T Magazine or other great 'zines like Promethean Crusade or The Grimoire Of Exalted Deeds! With the hundreds of out-of-print ‘zines out there, this could be the start of a whole new metal publishing sub-industry. However until that happens, remember Metalion and Bazillion Points did it first, and have set the standard for all those yet to follow in their left hand path.