Back in 1998 to early 2001, I was a stupid high school student who got into the underground metal scene. Back in that time, I was limited on which parties to go to and me and a friend attempting to go to a show for people ages 21 and older, but that was a failure, we got in but the guard kicked our 17 year old asses out of there.
The underground Metal network would work with many bands, zines (or Literature as I like to say now), and also disros. The last mention is short for distribution, and what happens is the person would buy 10 cassette tapes or CD’s from a band at a lower price, and/or buy 10 of the zines and practically set-up his own mail order store to make a few bucks and also help support the band on zine.
Most of the underground Metal network I knew was done mostly by snail mail. My entrance into that world was me putting out a pen pal ad in the now defunct magazine called Metal Maniacs (the store I bought it is also defunct). Me going to this Magazine was due to my displeasure of Guitar mag focusing more on the alternative bands 1997 had to offer, plus there was a focus on blues rock from a then 19-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepard and then 15-year-old Jonny Lang. They did cover Ozzy Osbourne’s re-entrance into Black Sabbath in their June 1997 issue, though.
The Metal Maniacs issue had My Dying Bride on the cover, a band I would later become a big fan of. In the end of most Metal Maniacs mags would be the pen pal ads, or otherwise called ‘shorts.’ My short was ran on their final issue on 1997 and found quite a few pen pals. However, the ones I found on Metal Maniacs lost touch with me or the other way around within a year.
One in particular, a guy named Harold (forgot if he was from Missouri or Montana) would send me ads. On his last letter, he sent me an ad to a Death Metal band called Unholy Death, what interested me was the band was in Ortonville, MI, about 60 miles north of where I was living at the time, Eastpointe, MI.
I would later buy their demo on cassette and keep a correspondence with the singer/guitarist of the band named Tim. The band would later make a full-length CD which I bought a copy of that. Like Harold, Tim would send me some ads. I would later write to a few folks, buy some tapes and CD’s and I would later do tape trades. I would later get sick of death metal altogether and move onto Doom and Gothic Metal.
Summer of 1998 and after, I got into bands such as the aforementioned My Dying Bride, Therion, Love History and Nightwish. Besides the tapes and CD’s, I would also buy some zines. Most were basically about the metal scene altogether. Comedy-based zines were a little hard to come by, one of them I have a copy of is “I Hate You Mother Fucker.”
Yes, that indeed is the title. IHYMF had interviews with unsigned Death Metal or hardcore bands, the writer very honest album or demo reviews (if he hated your demo, he’d rip it apart), some movie reviews (he gave the Lifetime movie Death of a Cheerleader a good review) and lots of articles and content that could easily be filed under NSFW.
After a while, I decided to create a zine called Wheel of Torture. My intention was to have the zine published via newsprint from a company in Florida who had asked for $600 to have 1000 copies printed. It was late 1998 when I started trying to get the content together. I began to save cash for the zine. I also began to learn HTML just in case actually publishing in newsprint would go south, therefore I could make a webzine.
With the help from Tim & another pen pal named Patrick, I was able to get the zine together before spring ended in 99. However, I lacked the funds due to me getting canned from the local Kroger. I didn’t have the $$$ for the Florida deal and I wasn’t interested in doing what the editor of IHYMF did. A letter from him before I declared Wheel of Torture Webzine, told me on how local printers in his area would not print his zine due to it being considered “too offensive.” So he had to go to Kinko’s (now known as the FedEx Office) and do it himself.
Since I knew how to make web pages (in 1999s standards) and some basic graphics, Wheel Of Torture was created and hosted on AOL. Of course, I didn’t have www.wheeloftorture.com, the url was something like: www.aol.com/hodz67890/Wot/index.html
Wheel of Torture Webzine was on the AOL world for a few months, I was later e-mailed by someone claiming to be a female Christian who wasn’t happy with my heavy metal site and threatened to report me to AOL. I e-mailed “her” back and told her to do her worst (however, my words were not nice on that reply). Sadly, she did, AOL deleted those pages and gave me a warning. AOL also gave carbon copies of my offense to all accounts in the household, including my mom.
A friend would later tell me about Geocities from Yahoo! Also, Geocities had less rules on content, the only problem they had is that you couldn’t make a porn site. I wasn’t looking to do that, but I was later asked by a couple people if they would help with that. Geocities saved the day, but I had to make new ads to go through the underground via snail-mail. Also, the W.O.T. Webzine once uploaded on Geocities had an additional page on the AOL situation. This came along with my then hatred of that company and the wish that “they go down in flames.”
Well, it’s Xmas 2016 now, my 17-year-old self kinda got his wish.
In 2000, I began to see less ads, zines becoming defunct, less snail mail. And also less people interested in our Unhappiness Compilation tapes. Volume 3 of our tape remains unfinished and at the time, we intended to make a CD-R release. What lead to me calling it quits was receiving the 9th and final issue of IHYMF where editor Chuck C. Bobuck indicated that he had it. Another thing Chuck said was with the help of the internet, the underground became “deader than a doornail.”
I have to agree.
W.O.T. Webzine ended just before the summer of 2001.
One of the things I would do from time-to-time is try to act more “business-like” and taking W.O.T. as a legit business. That is something I regret, big time. How are you going to be business-like when you look like this:
Sadly, Metal Maniacs went down in early 2009. As of Xmas 2016, the metalmaniacs.com domain is for sale on GoDaddy.