Metal History Through Fanzines

Metal-Core #2 (USA/NJ) 1987

Metal-Core #2 (USA/NJ) 1987. Editor: “Chris Forbes”

Long running fanzine out of New Jersey from Mr. Forbes, who also maintains an online version located here. This is the second issue (which he kindly scanned for me to put up alongside the interview he provided below), which was released in early 1987, so a lot of the reviews and content reflect releases and shows from 1986 – a very pivotal year for metal that saw thrash getting more and more explosive. Very centered on the underground at the time, the demo reviews include early offerings from Repulsion, Annihilator, Deathrash, Lethal Aggression and Heathen, among others. Additionally, there are cool interviews with Gene from Dark Angel, Mike from Possessed, Savage Death (NJ), Savage Thrust, New Renaissance records’ favs Dream Death (who are reunited by the way) and At War, plus Tom from Hallows Eve and some live reviews.

PDF of Metal-Core #2: Metal-Core # 2

SBMS: What drove you to start the zine and what were your first impressions of the international underground, once you found out about the tape trading and fanzine culture?

Chris Forbes: I had been into music even at a young age and around when I was 15 I was getting into rock n roll, but not your typical bands. While such bands in 1980 like The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, etc were selling millions of records, I was more into rock and metal bands like UFO, Ted Nugent, Saxon, etc. I was into reading such magazines at the time like Creem and Circus (even had a subscription) and there was a local music store, called “Listening Booth” and they started getting in a magazine from England called Kerrang. Then I started to read all about the NWOBHM thing. This store would also stock imports so in addition to reading about the bands, I was able to purchase music from these bands. Good ole cassettes (ha ha). At the time I thought Kerrang was like the ultimate bible for metal as it blew away crap that Creem and Circus and Hit Parader were writing about. Well the store also began getting other magazines in like Metal Forces. So from there, I read about, discovered and became fans of such bands as Motorhead, Raven, Venom, and Metallica etc.

I actually discovered the world of fanzines probably around 1985 or so. I was hanging out with a couple of the guys in the band Anvil Bitch and on a whim they asked if I wanted to go up to Lamour’s in NY to see the band Overkill, who I was a fan of, as well as many of the early thrash bands like Exciter, Anvil, Exodus, etc. On the way up there we decided to stop off at a store called “Rock N Roll Heaven.” When I walked in I was totally blown away. Here was this small store, but all that was stocked in the store was wall to wall underground metal. “Listening Booth” only had a small section of metal and it was nowhere near as godly as this was.

I was always a magazine junkie, so when I saw a publication called “Kick Ass Monthly” I picked it up, and from then on and there that was my introduction to fanzines and also to tape trading. Now I didn’t do a lot of tape trading back then, I did some, but at the time I was heavily involved in the underground scene, I had already started writing and was soon to be doing my own fanzine. Soon after I discovered ‘Kick Ass Monthly” I found out about the whole world of fanzines and even some punk zines such as “Maximum Rock N Roll” and “Flipside”.  Another one was Ron Quintana’s ‘Metal Mania.”

At some point in 1985 I purchased a fanzine called “Total Thrash.” This was a local fanzine put out by Scott Helig, who was based out of Philadelphia, PA. I saw he was looking for writers so I asked if I could write for him and he said yes. I think I wrote for him for 2 issues when he had said to me that I was sending him so much stuff (reviews/interviews) that he suggested I start doing my own fanzine! I looked at like a challenge and I love challenges, so I decided to start my own zine and in late 1986 the 1st issue of Metal Core came out. It was ½ size, no pictures, no logo, no nothing. Just typed words on white paper and I printed 150 copies and got rid of them all eventually by selling them at shows. It just contained some interviews, some demo reviews, show reviews and a few zine ads.

I kind of stole the name from a little mini tour that was booked up in the Northeastern part of the US. Overkill and SOD played a 7-date mini tour and called it the “metal core tour” so since I was big time into metal and hardcore I thought “metal core” would be a great name for a zine, so that is how the name came about.

The entire underground scene, with its many fanzines, bands, etc. stretching out from everywhere was insane. Once I had a couple issues out, I was getting mail from all over the world and I was having bands send me demos from not just the US, but from Europe, South America, Canada, etc. I was getting up to 10 letters a day and around 10 packages from bands every week. Then it even got crazier when labels started sending me promos to review and I started trading with every zine I could. I was a big time zine junkie. I would write to every band I saw reviewed in the zines, spending hours writing letters and sending out orders, etc.

SBMS:  What were the important venues for metal in and around your area? Were there any important record stores or radio shows in the late 80s/early 90s that were important for the local scene? Were there any memorable early shows or tours that stick out in your mind, that you can talk about?

Chris Forbes: Well I lived in NJ (still do to this day) at the time and I was based in South Jersey, right across from Philadelphia, PA. To me Philadelphia never has had a really strong metal scene at all. Even when “hair metal” was at its peak the only band to even do anything was Cinderella and for underground metal back then it was Anvil Bitch and Blacktask. There was a venue back in the day called “The Empire Rock Club” that would do all age metal shows on Sunday nights. They did occasionally have the heavier bands play. Sepultura played their 1st ever US show there and Anvil Bitch or Blacktask would open for such touring bands as Testament, Nuclear Assault, etc. There also was a club called “The Trocedero”, which is still open and they have had underground shows there over the years, they also filmed “Ultimate Revenge 2” there with Death, Dark Angel, Faith or Fear, Forbidden and Raven.  To me NJ had the way better music scene/venues back in the day. However, the ultimate venue for me was Lamour’s in Brooklyn, NY but I’ll get to that later.

South Jersey was pretty lame, we had one club called “Bonnie’s” that had shows on Sunday nights after the “Empire Rock Club” stopped doing them. The owner of the club loved all that “hair metal shit so all these “poser” metal bands would play most of the time, with the exception of Deadly Blessing who were a power metal band (this is 1988) of sorts that were on New Renaissance Records, who I was helping manage at the time. North Jersey was where it was at. You had tons of clubs (City Gardens, Obsessions, The Show Place, Satellite Lounge, and The Cricket Club) and many others that I have forgotten I am sure. You also had the bands, Whiplash, Savage Death, Bloodfeast, Blessed Death, Insaniac, Fathom Warrior, Hades, Nuclear Assault, Overkill, etc. Now as far as stores go, well after “Rock N Roll Heaven” closed I didn’t really have to buy much stuff as I was getting it all for free (ha ha). There was a cool store up in North Jersey called Vintage Vinyl that stocked a lot of metal which is still up and running and is still kicking ass. In NYC, you had Slipped Disc and Bleeker Bob’s, which I never got to visit, but wish I did back in the day.

There was no good local radio where I lived, but when I would head up to North Jersey I would also put on WSOU 89.5 which was based out of Montclair, NJ and that station is still up and running, but it is a shell of its former self. Now to me Lamour’s was easily the best club I’ve ever been too. Back in the 80s I would take the 3 hour plus drive up there, only to get home at 6am as the headlining band didn’t go on until 1:30 AM and the show would be over at 3 AM, and then time to go home!

I saw so many classic shows up there, Slayer in 85, 86, 87, 88, etc. Carnivore, Blessed Death, Savage Thrust, Possessed, Overkill, Anthrax, Megedeth, Testament, Voivod. I saw Agent Steel get booed off the stage, the crowd was just not into the singing (ha ha), Nuclear Assault. The pits at the shows were insane. When Pete Steele would say “kill each other” trust me people almost did. One night Paul Baloff was sick on tour, so Exodus came out and did an all instrumental set and the crowd sang every song. Possessed in 1986 let Slayer come out and did a 4 song mini set prior to “Reign in Blood” coming out. There are many more I am sure I am forgetting.

City Gardens was a club in Trenton, NJ and they did a mix of hardcore and metal shows. I saw bands like Agnostic Front, DRI, Leeway, Sick of it All, Black Flag, SOD, etc and at these shows in the 80’s were some of the sickest mosh pits, just 1000 people going absolutely crazy. They also began doing metal shows so I saw Slayer, Megedeth, Overkill, Venom, Death, Dark Angel and other bands there as well. I remember I sold quite a few copies of my zine at that venue in the 80s and even into the 90s. At the Slayer show in 1986, on the “Reign in Blood” tour, I dove off the stage and almost broke my fuckin neck.

G. Williker’s was another club in South Jersey, where a girl named Annie Bowman was booking shows. She booked the way underground bands like Immolation, Incantation (before both were signed), Bloodfeast, Paineater, Prime Evil, Autopsy, Nuclear Death, etc. That was another venue where I sold and traded a lot of my zines because shows with the bands mentioned above were all attended by die-hard fans and though not always crowded, the shows were great and contain a lifetime of memories. Some other early shows that still stick out in my mind…seeing Metallica/Wasp/Armored Saint in 1985, Motorhead/Exciter in 86, Vio-lence blowing me away when I saw them in ’88, all the Milwaukee Metalfests back in the day, seeing Sodom on one of them, and getting to meet a lot of the people I wrote to back then at a fest like that was amazing,  because back then that was the only fest we had [in the USA]. Lastly, I did some cool shows in 1989 with a band called The Log, which was a band that I sang in with three of the guys in Deadly Blessing. We did a demo, which sold over 3000 copies and we were a crossover band like DRI/SOD. We played around 12 shows and we did our original songs along with a few cover tunes.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s