My long journey with Metalunderground began nearly a decade ago. Obama wasn’t President yet, and I still had a day job. I was tired of people screaming at me on the phone over problems with their cell service that I hadn’t caused and had no ability to fix. It was time for a change, so the wife and I decided to give a big old middle finger to the daily grind and dive headfirst into freelancing online.
It wasn’t long after getting in touch with Deathbringer that I found myself in Seattle on a tour bus shaking hands with Mikael Akerfeldt and blathering like an idiot about what a big fan I was. Its an experience I’ll never forget, seeing a legend in the flesh and learning what his daily life was like while performing across the country. I was so star struck I accidentally left my audio recorder on the bus after the interview and didn’t get it back until after the show. I’ve got a good half an hour of Mikael on the phone talking to family in Sweden that I’m never going to delete.
Never in my life did I figure I’d be talking to Kyle Gass about the death of Dio and whether there might ever be a Pick Of Destiny 2, but there I was on the phone with one half of Tenacious D chatting about legalizing drugs and how mortality sucks. Phone calls with lifelong idols like Emperor’s Ihsahn and Vorph from Samael became semi-regular occurrences. I actually ended up discussing the infamous “Jesus is a cunt” t-shirt directly with Dani Filth.
The Metalunderground of those golden days feels like a completely different era now. I remember back when every Avenged Sevenfold or Slipknot thread had 150+ comments and became any given reader’s personal chat room. That time Deathbringer made a forum link on the main page as an April Fool’s joke (royally pissing off everyone who wanted a message board long before we actually had one) had me in stitches while fending off angry emails.
Looking back at those days, I think of shirtless Wilco and his creative grammar. Regulars like americanpatriot1 and Gorecunt keeping conversations going. InfernoNecrosis oversharing about bodily functions. KMADD and Korndogg trolling. The constant cry of “That’s not Rob Zombie!!” All those times I accidentally wrote “Mike Porntoy” or “Windows Of Plague” in a headline. Branded or Kali getting into massive fights with anyone about anything. Blindgreed1 coming up with ever more inventive insults to anyone who would dare besmirch the Metalunderground name or anybody who called MU home.
If you got past the hazing phase, you were a regular – you were on of us, and that meant something. Those were the days of R10 and Wolf, Natsquatch and Cozen, BrunoHockalugie and Jackrum, Terminator and BrianSD, IrishMetal and Trendkill91, PorcupineTreeFan and IrishMetal, Fuck_A_Name and Drum_Junkie (who blessedly has stayed active). Whoever thought a grown man could look back at a forum thread titled “I’d put my tongue in her butt” and feel nostalgic?
It wasn’t just the readers that made us into that powerhouse of metal though, it was also the contributors. It was Vicky bringing absurdly underground pornogrind bands to the world’s attention. It was CROMCarl’s pun-tastic reviews. It was James (Cynic), Zack (zMETALlica), Peggy (darkstar), Cody (The_Avant_Garde), Dan (heavytothebone2), Kevin (n0thinghead), Joel (bloodofheroes), Andrew (remembermetal?), Matt (Dasher10), psythe, and more turning this thing into a community. All the while there was Deathbringer keeping us together and introducing me to bands like Acid Bath.
Along the way I’ve had the distinct pleasure of running our staff voting and writing up the yearly best-of articles, chronicling an absurd number of releases and how they ranked in the metalverse. I’ll never forget those dueling articles about the merits of Opeth’s “Heritage” with Darren (if you think the comments we get now are negative, oh boy, you should see some of the shit that hit my inbox back then when I dared to state a negative opinion about the Swedish golden boys). There were the fabulous inverse Valentine’s Day articles with Ollie, as well as meeting fascinating people who have since moved on to other endeavors like Frank (Progressivity_In_All) and Mike (OverkillExposure).
This journey of a staggering 603 reviews and just shy of 62,000 news stories has included everything from spending time talking to a band absurdly named Vaginal Penetration Of An Amelus With A Musty Carrot to moments that truly defined my life.
Although most of it took place in my home office, this has been a truly global journey, like when I had the opportunity to interview dozens of both Christian and Satanic black metal bands across the world for that unblack metal article. I got a whole new perspective on humanity while talking to people who lived through different denominations of the same religion trying to bomb each other into eternity in Croatia side by side with people who believe that prayer can literally resurrect the dead. I ended up interviewing utter misanthropes who did not want to be talking to any metal sites and were openly antagonistic, as well as extremely friendly bands who were beyond grateful someone was just simply paying attention to them.
There was the monumental undertaking of putting together our Peter Steele tribute album with bands from around the world to just simply meeting up with people I never could have imagined. Shared musical connections were forged with fans and musicians from far flung locales like Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Belgium, Iceland, Argentina, Israel, Chile, Norway, Maldives, the Czech Republic and even more! If it wasn’t for Metalunderground, I’d never have interacted with any of those amazing musicians and metal fans.
Far all those people I met online in far off lands, there were also plenty closer to home, from the trio of excellent lads in Spokane instrumental group Odyssey to local Montana scene stalwart Rashid (aka Zebulon Kosted). Probably the most surprising (and humbling) moment of my life took place right here in my own town, when the teller at my local bank saw my name and recognized who I was from Metalunderground, excitedly chatting me up about metal news.
While there were changes to the site, it was really metal itself that changed over these past 10 years. There was the appearance (and ignominious end) of djent. The love/hate phenomena that is Ghost. Pirate metal. Melodic post-hardcore (aka whiny mallcore that all sounds the same). Nu-metal’s unexpected return. That God Of Atheists album that never came out (and probably never will). Watching several different bands implode in public. Hearing bands I’d adored since I was a teenager slowly turn to utter shit. Terrible fires and even terrorist shootings that took the lives of our fellow music lovers. Hilariously awesome metal covers that deserve way more attention than they ever got. Finding nobody bands from a place no one’s ever heard of who could outperform absolutely anyone on the Metal Blade or Roadrunner rosters (which was hands down my favorite part of this job).
There have been huge ups and yes, some downs. There have been times when Metalunderground sat triumphantly among the top 5 metal sites in the entire world and times when we’ve struggled to get comments and views. The fall of MySpace, subsequent great exodus to Facebook, and rising dominance of clickbait content completely changed how music sites operate. We went from a few scant thousand Facebook followers and catapaulted to more than a million. Sometimes its good and sometimes its bad, but change happens whether you want it to or not, and sadly now those changes are leading me away from the place that’s been my online home for most of my adult life.
Many of the people I’ve met through Metalunderground have legitimately become friends, whether its our contributors, readers, or even PR and label folks like Curtis Dewar, Tom George, and Ryan Feldman. Plenty of those friendships have gone way beyond “hey, we like the same bands” over the years. We’ve been there for each other through marriages, divorces, births, mental breakdowns, and even funerals (RIP DeathInEye, Godlike, and Tom Himself – the three of you will not be forgotten).
At this point, some of the people reading this post are more like family. I’ve given job recommendations over the phone for some of you. Regulars have emailed me asking what they can do to help our writers who were going through hard times and vice versa. When my wife and I lost our first child, there were probably more MU readers messaging me their support and condolences than anyone else – even people I’d openly argued and clashed with before. We’re metal heads. No one else understands us, so we fucking stick together.
It’s been my honor to serve the metal community and do my part to keep the scene thriving. I have no doubt the rest of the staff and the regular readers will keep things running smoothly. For my part, I’ll now be writing for Gameskinny, working on my next fiction release, and handling a few PR campaigns for metal bands I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know to over the years.
I may be leaving the site, but I’m not going to vanish from the metal community, so keep in touch. For everyone reading this, whether you’ve been around since those heady early days or just recently got on the MU train, please know you have my thanks.
All good things come to an end, and my time here is finally done. This is xFiruath, officially signing off. Farewell Metal Underground.