The ever shrinking world of metal and underground music has lowered the caskets of two beloved publications; Metal Maniacs and Metal Edge. Although the parent company that publishes MM and ME, Zenbu Media, has also kicked jam band staple Relix Magazine to the curb, on the whole this is a stark reality check for the current state of metal music and all of its’ subsequent cultural offspring.
From their 80s inception and birth (Metal Maniacs in ’86 and Metal Edge in ’89) both publications have been a beacon for every level of metalhead, immersing the novice in a wealth of bands and wooing the jaded with exclusive stories as well as one-of-a-kind coverage. During the late 90s both publications suffered from the emergence of formidable competitors like Revolver, but in mid 2007 things seemed to be on the up-swing when both magazines were picked up by global music classic, Zenbu Media. Both magazines revamped and relaunched, admittedly turning heads (including my own) and began to integrate multimedia content and a plethora of 21st century virtual eye candy.
Yet today, although there has been no official confirmation other than the mention of both mags taking a “hiatus,” it seems that ME and MM will become the martyrs of the dying art form that is print publication. The irony of it all is Zenbu Media was at the cutting edge of digital publication a few years ago, rolling out with a digi edition of their mags via “Zendition,” an online reader component that delivered a full edition of the magazine to your email inbox. Zendition was also licensed to other publication aching to launch digital editions and seemed to be a novel idea. Great minds always suffer a price.
The pressing issue is the decline of print, coupled with scarce ad dollars, which has minimized the success rate for any niche publication, but it doesn’t make the cultural blow any easier — the MM and ME staff over the years has been comprised of some of metal music’s most ardent supporters with true passion and love for the genre. These publications helped make and sustain the longevity of metal, they had what many other ad-money-hungry publications didn’t — heart. Magazines like Metal Maniacs and Metal Edge sold a lifestyle, a rock star vision that subscribers are dying to identify with. It is almost therapeutic; discovering new music, evaluating the newest look of your fave metal act, and stepping into the shoes of a touring metal musicians without leaving the can. I mean really, what more could a fan ask for? But as the tides of the shifting industry change, there are bound to be casualties. In an ideal world, we would never sacrifice monuments but let us not forget, these really are shifting times.
So rest in peace alongside many of your fallen brothers, we can only speculate what this will mean for a new generation of metalheads that will never know the joy of the quarterly zine, peril of running to the radio multiple times a day to record a thrash mixtape, satisfaction of running to the bookstore to pick up the new Metal Edge and Terrorizer, or the satisfaction of shocking hoards of mothers with a wardrobe that makes them declare “Weren’t you raised right?!”