READ ALL ABOUT IT-A Very Brief And Incomplete History of Canadian Heavy Metal Magazines

READ ALL ABOUT IT

A Very Brief And Incomplete History of Canadian Heavy Metal Magazines 

(Version 1.3)

by JP


PREFACE

As we hit the 50th anniversary of Heavy Metal this year (2020), as Managing Editor of Metal-Rules.com, one of my goals is to try to add more editorial content and technical information so people can use MR not only as a source of entertainment but reliable information as well.  In our 30,000+ pages of content, we have written almost 14,000 CD reviews, 500+ book reviews, 400+ DVD reviews. Over 25 years we  have conducted over 2000 interviews, and our international staff have reviewed over 1700 concerts and festivals world-wide.

We are also celebrating our 25th year as a web-site so to add even more value for our readers I would like to add  a series of articles about various facets of Heavy Metal.   Every year, I am increasingly happy to discover more and more authors, books, on-line publications, scholars and academic studies plumbing our massive archives and citing and sharing our work.  Therefore, my modest goal is to continue to make Metal-Rules a resource and repository on a variety of (hopefully!) interesting topics and not just a shallow dumping ground of regurgitated press-releases, click-bait, pop-up ads, political posturing, countless lists and rankings of albums, and endless industry gossip.  There are plenty of good sites that already do that well and they are all enjoyable in their own way.

How these articles will manifest themselves I’m not quite sure but I will start with a look at The History of Canadian Heavy Metal magazines.  We are a Canadian web-site after all and we have always strived to maintain that magazine style format, for example publishing our reviews only once a month like an old-school print magazine where you had to be patient and wait!  It also seemed appropriate to look at how information about Metal was disseminated before the big bad internet came along and how the new and inexpensive method of digital publication caused a massive proliferation of Metal related blogs, websites (like us in 1995!) and a myriad of social media pages and metal groups.  The age of metal print publications is largely defunct so this seems like a good a milestone as any to reflect fondly at some Canadian Metal magazines.

If you have any suggestions, comments or ideas for future articles, please let me know. You can reach me at joshuawood@shaw.ca.  Thank you.


READ ALL ABOUT IT

A Very Brief And Incomplete History of Canadian Heavy Metal Magazines. (Version 1.3)

I want to make the important distinction between magazines and fanzines.  The lines can get blurred especially in the case of pro-zines, but by and large, fanzines are created by fans; from creating content, lay-out and design, to printing limited runs (often in black and white and photocopied) and localized distribution.  Magazines, generally speaking are more professional affairs, often with paid editors, advertising, multiple staff and writers, printed in colour on glossy paper, have higher print runs, broader distribution and usually have a cost associated.

This article is specifically about magazines and not meant to discredit or ignore the dozens of wonderful Canadian fanzines. Perhaps one day I will do an article on fanzines.   This visual time-line/history runs somewhat chronologically by first date of publication.  All photos are from the authors library unless otherwise noted.


METALLION  1984-1985  (11 issues) 

Back in 1976 Albertan Keith Sharp founded a magazine called Alberta Music Express.  The ‘Alberta’ was dropped as the magazine rapidly expanded across the country and into the US.   In 1984 in order to meet growing demand for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music news, a spin-off magazine was created called  Metallion.

Published by Rock Express Communications out of Toronto, Ontario, Editor Lenny Stoute under the direction of Keith Sharp, published Canada’s first professional Metal magazine.  Initially, 36 pages long (expanding to a maximum of 46 pages) with advertising and a mix of black and white and some colour, the magazine also featured centerfold posters as was the style of the time.  The magazine covered a wide range of bands from major-label mainstream bands like Twisted Sister to underground bands like Venom.  The list price for it’s entire run was $1.75.   Currently issues are hard to find and a complete set in good condition will cost a collector hundreds of dollars, with an average issue going on E-bay for about $20.00.

Timeline and assorted highlights:

-August, 1984.  Issue #1  36 pages. Cover: Scorpions.

-Oct/Nov, 1984  Issue #2  Expands to 46 pages.   Cover: Twisted Sister.  A young Drew Masters, founder of M.E.A.T. Magazine, joins as a contributor.

-Dec/Jan, 84/85  Issue #3    Cover: Infamous Iron Maiden’s Eddie as Canadian Mountie.

-Vol 2. 1985  Issue #10.   Cover: Metallica.  Allegedly this is Metallica’s first major magazine cover appearance sharing the cover with Rush and Bon Jovi! 

-Vol 2. 1985  Issue #11.  Cover: Judas Priest. Final issue.


M.E.A.T. 1989-1994 (58 issues)

Drew Masters, launches M.E.A.T magazine which initially stood for Metal Events Around Toronto.  MEAT was initially 20 pages black and white (w. colour cover) on newsprint. The early focus of the magazine was on underground, independent original acts around the Toronto bar scene. Masters did most of the work but an early notable contributor was Ray Wallace.  M.E.A.T. remained free for it’s entire lifespan and was also available as a reasonably priced subscription.  It was readily available at businesses around Toronto and eventually gaining national distribution via several music chains.

M.E.A.T. also had a production run of four compact discs, Raw M.E.A.T.  Vol. 1-4,  featuring various artists.   As M.E.A.T. came to a close Masters continued to expand his publish empire by dabbling in an Alternative music magazine called ARM (Alternative Rock Monthly) and even a short-lived country magazine!  Today back issues of M.E.A.T. sell on-line for between $5.00 and $40.00 each.

Timeline and assorted highlights:

-May, 1989  Issue #1  20 pages  Cover:  Succsexx

-March 1990  Issue #10    Cover: Killer Dwarfs and more.   MEAT gains national distribution and has a print run of 35,000 copies.

-April 1990  Issue #11    Expands to 40 pages.

-November 1990  Issue #18  RAW MEAT compilation CD released.  Future BW&BK founder Tim Henderson joins M.E.A.T.


-October 1991  Issue #27   Cover: Guns ‘n’ Roses   First glossy cover.

-June 1992 Issue #33  Available in two alternative covers: Iron Maiden (33A)  and Sebastian Bach (33B). Page count drops but print run goes to 50,000 copies per issue.

-March 1993  Issue #40  Available in two alternative covers: Dream Theater (40A)  and Poison (40B)

-Nov/Dec 1993  Issue #47 MEAT goes 100% glossy paper, drops from being monthly.   Future Unrestrained! Magazine founder Adrian Bromley joins M.E.A.T.


-Feb/March 1995 Issue #54   First issue featuring sub-title ‘Metal-Alternative’ and new logo/font and a drop in page count.

-Sept/Oct 1995.  Issue #58.  Final issue. Mix of glossy and newsprint. Featured a new look and style, new writers and a full evolution into an alternative/grunge Metal magazine.


BRAVE WORDS & BLOODY KNUCKLES (BW&BK) 1994-2009 (113 issues)

Not the first but arguably the biggest and best Canadian Metal magazine. This magazine founded by Tim Henderson and Martin Popoff of Toronto seems to over time collect many of the brightest Canadian writers. Henderson who worked in the Metal section of HMV music chain had produced some in-house flyers for distribution called ‘Tim Bits’ named after a popular mini-donut snack in Canada sold by the Tim Horton’s restaurant chain.  In 1994 Martin and Tim  made the jump to producing a magazine.  The magazine took it’s somewhat unusual name from an album by the band Agony Column.

Issue #1 sold for $1.95 and was a small size, black and white with tiny font and was a mere 12 pages.  Over the years it expanded again and gain to be one of the most respected Metal magazines in the world with international staff and offices.   With the collapse of the print industry BW&BK folded it’s hard copy run in early 2009 with the final issue being a monster 100 pages, full colour on glossy paper. Since going on-line BW&BK maintains a strong global on-line presence to this day.

Timeline and assorted highlights:

-March 1994.  Issue #1  12 pages.  200 copies printed.

-May 1994  Issue #2.   BW&BK adds writers and increases page count to 16 pages.

-Feb/Mar 1997.  Issue #16.  In each issue, BW&BK start to include a various artists CD in a slim-line jewel case called Knuckletracks. Each edition of Knuckletracks had independent or local artist provide the artwork.  Price now at $3.99

-Dec 1997.  Issue #21.   First full colour cover.  Now at 46 pages on glossy paper.

-Apr/May 1998.  Issue #   Cover: 23.  4th Anniversary issue.  Some redesign.  First cover artist:  Cradle Of Filth. Now at 50 pages.   The magazine title is now truncated to BW&BK with new flame logo and font.

-November 1998  Issue # 26    The short-lived Blood Tracks CD sampler is introduced and included with copies.

-September 2000.  Issue #43   Cover: Rob Halford.  Price increases to $6.99 where it stays until the end of the magazine.

-Jan 2003.  Issue #66.   Cover: Infamous Iron Maiden’s Eddie as Canadian Mountie.  Note: Issue #66  has the same cover art as Metallion issue #3 published 18 years prior in January of 1985.

-Sept 2003 Issue #72.  In a slightly confusing, but logical move, the Knuckletracks sampler gets renumbered to reflect the same number of the current issue of the magazine. Issue #71 of the magazine contained Knuckletracks LII (52) and the next issue #72 contained Knuckletracks LXXII (72) a jump of 20.  Don’t worry you are not missing 20 copies of Knuckletracks in your collection.

-April 2005  Issue #86  Cover: Behemoth. The Knuckletracks sampler no longer uses Roman numerals and goes to conventional numbering.

 

-Dec 2006  Issue #100.  Cover: Lemmy. Lemmy bakes a cake for BW&BK!    Includes a bonus mini replica of issue #1.

-June 2008  Issue #110.   Final production of Knuckletracks sampler CD.   There were 94 CD’s in the series.


-Jan 2009  Issue 113.  Cover: Metallica   Final issue.  100 pages.


ENRAGE 1994-?    (# of issues unknown)

Shortly after BW&BK was launched another Hard rock magazine hits the streets. This black and white was printed on newsprint but had a glossy cover.  The magazine focused predominantly on alternative and Hard Rock and was also free.  Enrage was founded by Mitch Joel and Andre Knox who were running  Arena Rock magazine in Quebec.   They reached out to Tim Henderson and Martin Popoff to take it to next level.

Timeline and assorted highlights:

June/July 1994.  Issue #1   Pages. 24  Cover:  Jim Rose


UNRESTRAINED! 1995-2008  (39 issues)

Adrian Bromley of MEAT and BW&BK fame was an early adapter of the internet and helped create one of earliest Metal web-zines, Chronicles Of Chaos.   Unrestrained! was the print, twin-sister for lack of a better term. Unrestrained! ran for 13 years and had a run of 39 issues.  It focused on the more extreme styles of Metal and had good distribution in stores across Canada.   Like BW&BK , Unrestrained! attracted many talented writers such as Chris Bruni, Laura Wiebe, and Sean Palmerston, the two later going to onto forge Hellbound the online magazine.  After the  sudden passing of Bromley due to illness the magazine went with him to the grave.   Issues currently are hard to find with an average price of $15.00 for back issues on-line.  (Please note, all images found on-line) 

Timeline and assorted highlights:  

1996  Issue #1

 

 

Eight Anniversary issue

 

April 2008.  Issue #39.   Final Issue.  Cover: Kreator  $4.99


SANG FRAIS (Fresh Blood)  1998-2005  (17 issues)

This French language magazine started life an independent black and white and eventually evolved over time to walk that fine-line between pro-zine and fully-fledged magazine.   Founded by sibling Louise and Simon, the magazine was free for it’s entire duration and featured local artists to do their cover art.  Many styles were represented with an emphasis on the Quebec Metal scene.  Located mainly in Quebec, Sang Frais did have some distribution in France and Switzerland.

Of all the magazines in this article, this one has he best on-line presence in terms of archiving it’s lifespan.  Visit www.sangfrais.comfor a full detailed history of the mag in French.   Sang Frais continues on Facebook with an on-line presence as to this day.

Timeline and assorted highlights:

-May 1998  Issue #1     16 pages. 500 copies. (Photo courtesy of Sang Frais)

-Fall 1998  Issue #2   Doubles in size to 32 pages and 2000 copies printed.


-Spring 2001  Issue #8   2000 copies 32 pages.  First colour cover. (Photo courtesy of Sang Frais)


-September 2003  Issue #12.  The magazine gets a new look and has it’s first band photos on the front cover.

(Photo courtesy of Sang Frais)

 

-February 2004    Issue #13  Begins using glossy covers.


-June 2005  Issue #17   Final issue 6000 copies  52 pages. (Photo courtesy of Sang Frais)


CHROMIUM DIOXIDE  2009-2013 (6 issues)

Considering the collapse of the Metal magazine industry it was surprising to see a young upstart magazine called Chromium Dioxide hit the streets in 2009.  Founded by Philthy Animal and Dave Slimer this magazine only lasted six issues (as of time of writing) and could be described with three words; Retro. Thrash. Humour.

Printed on decent quality paper in black and white, with a glossy colour cover, this oddly sized magazine cost $6.00.  This magazine was free of advertising and covered mostly metal but also included horror movies, wrestling and other lifestyle topics. Crude humour was a focal point as were countless drawings and illustrations making this graphic heavy publication walk the razors edge between pro-zine and magazine.  Allegedly artistic differences led to it’s demise in 2013.  The magazine maintains a Facebook page and in 2015 a post announced Issue #7 was underway with a photo of the cover. The magazine exists primarily on-line these days.

Timeline and assorted highlights:


-2008  Issue #1   34 pages.

-2011  Issue #5  Page count increases to over 40 and size increases to standard magazine size.


-2013  Issue #6  Final issue.

The missing/incomplete issue #7  (Photo from the Chromium Dioxide Facebook page) 


Honourable Mentions.

These next publications, while not specifically Metal magazines, have been more or less ‘Metal-friendly’ over the years in terms of content or even had small, dedicated Metal sections within their pages. (Listed alphabetically)

Absolute Underground
A west-Coast institution, AB has been very pro-Metal since it’s first issue way back in January of 2005. Founders Chad Persely and Ira Hunter this monthly entertainment newspaper is still going strong as of February 2020 with 92 issues over 16 years.  It is free, prints 10,000 copies per issue and has distribution all over Canada and parts of the Pacific NorthWest of the United States.

Beatroute
Based in Calgary, the monthly entertainment newspaper, BeatRoute under the leadership of Sarah Kitteringham and Christine Leonard had a Metal section called Shrapnel running for approximately 120 issues (2009 to 2019) and a heavy focus on local acts.  A change in ownership to an Eastern based media group led to an overhaul and the Shrapnel section was discontinued.

Exclaim!
Founded in Ontario in 1991, Exclaim has acted as Canada’s music and entertainment publication and de facto industry information source with formal college and university radio charts and tracking.  For many years Exclaim included a Metal section called Aggressive Tendencies but that seems to have been discontinued a few years ago.   Aggressive Tendencies existed on-line for sometime but that also seems to have been discontinued, although it does exist as a Facebook page.


*Note:  If you have any questions, comments, criticism, revisions or additions, please let me know.  I consider this article a work-in-progress and a ‘living’ document’ that hopefully will expand, improve and metalmorphosize over time.   Thank you.

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