Reviewed: February, 2021
Released: 2020, Indie
Periodically (pun fully intended) I’ll review a Metal magazine. As a rule of thumb if a new Metal magazine comes along I will review the first issue, as sort of a public service announcement to let fans know there is a new player in the game. In this case it is a new publication called Metalhead.
#1 of Metalhead came put in late 2020. Based in London, England, Metalhead is defined as a quarterly journal. It has been founded by mastermind Darren Sadler, whose name you may recognize from Ironfist, Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines. He brings along some decent talent for the ride; familiar names like Kevin Stewart Panko, J. Bennett and more.
In terms of technical presentation, Metalhead is very well done. It is about 120 pages long and printed on a mid-grade, yardstick giving it some nice weight and feel, and smell! The design is understated and the taglines are minimalistic, preferring to emphasis the content rather than the author, which is refreshing compared to some magazine where the author/interviewer seems to feel they are the focal point of the article for some reason.
It is a darker magazine, white or grey print on black or grey paper, or on a few occasions purple or yellow paper (which isn’t as bad as it sounds) and the font is simple and elegant. The overall design is clean, under-stated and simple. This is good looking publication, it is thick enough it can sit on a bookshelf with pride and you can look at the spine and see what it is.
Another fine feature is that there are very few advertisements. Some Metal magazines will advertise anything and look more like a Department store product catalogue with a few articles scattered in. Not Metalhead, content is king.
Speaking of content, it seems to me that there are ‘generally’ two kinds of magazines; contemporary and retro. Each type have their style and target audience. The vast majority of Metal mags are contemporary focusing on new bands. They are glossy, trendy, cool, hip, look good on the rack and have lots of eye-catching articles like, ‘THE TOP 100 HOTTEST CHICKS IN METAL!!!!!!” Those magazines are fun and serve their purpose.
Then you have the retro ones, like for example, like the excellent Rock Candy where the old guard sit around and talk about the good old days, discuss their favorite bands, review albums that came out 30 years ago and earnestly discuss what Kip Winger is up to these days. Those are awesome too.
Metalhead manages to straddle both worlds and take the best features and styles from both. Issue #1 is not too flash, doesn’t pander to trends, nor is it just based on selling the sizzle. They don’t just blindly worship the old stuff either. Metalhead takes a more intellectual and cerebral approach without being too academic or elitist. It is a difficult balance to maintain and based on this first issue they nailed it. The only danger being is that the diversity in content may be polarizing. The guy who wants to read about Stryper may not want to read about My Dying Bride. However for the open-minded and exploratory reader this fits the bill perfectly.
Mr. T.G. Warrior graces the cover of #1, a nice coup, although, for a mildly misanthropic old fellow he sure is not shy of an opportunity for media exposure! Issue #1 also features a wise variety of bands, old stuff (Vardis!) and new stuff like Possessor and Hellripper. All genres get equal enthusiasm from Anaal Nathrakh to Raven to Pallbearer. The choices of interviewees are good too; we get an excellent piece on Derrick Green, the ‘new guy’ (at 20+ years) in Sepultura. Green, not unlike Neil Peart of Rush, will always be ‘the new guy’ and it was nice to hear from him for a change instead of people always going on about Max and Andreas.
There are also some cool lifestyle features on collecting, tattoos, the art of the mix-tape and more. What I like is that the tone or theme of the magazine seems to be, dare I say it…maturity? That word could be the kiss of death for a Metal magazine! Metalhead is not ‘over-the-top’, those mags have their place, and it is not pretentious and judgmental, nor does Metalhead try too hard to be kvlt and necro; so grim, so true so real…it hits that sweet spot. Top-notch and world class.
If issue #1 is any indication of the future of this publication, you may well want to subscribe and get on board now. Watch for issue #2 in early 2021.