Friday, September 10, 2010


 We continue the glory, as a testament to the times that were bonded by the selfless exploits of the individuals that made up the zine contingent. We'd originally intended to run a megaton blog, but the sheer volume of material that has come to hand by our friends and colleagues has been mind blowing, so we have decided to run this as an ongoing series as something a little different which adds to the flavour of the Glorious Times.

Zine specific artwork was another feature of the talented Bob Plante from Disturbed zine. This piece from 1987 created for Ed Farshtey's  The Book of Armageddon zine . (courtesy - Bob Plante)

There's no schedule to when we'll feature flashbacks from some of the men (and hopefully the women too) who took to propagandizing the pioneers of extreme music, it'll happen when it happens. For now, please enjoy the ultra rare images and stories, and gain yet more insight into what is was to be on the front line of the glory.

ED FARSHTEY from The Book of Armageddon zine:

Issue #1 of The Book of Armageddon. (courtesy - Ed Farshtey)

I first started The Book of Armageddon back in the summer of 1985 with my good friend Mark Sokoll. We both had the same musical interests and we also wanted to be more involved in the underground.Buying records and going to shows was great, but there was more of a calling to actually become involved in this growing scene.

At that time the only way to learn about new bands was through reading the few true metal magazines like Metal Forces, Kerrang, Aardschok, Metal Hammer, World Metal Report and then there were the independent fanzines that would turn up in your local record store that really exposed the underground to the world. Some of the originators were Slayer, D.O.D., Metal Warriors, Total Thrash, Blackthorn, and of course Kick Ass Monthly. So me and Mark decided to put our ideas together and The Book of Armageddon was born.

 The logo used for The Book of Armageddon #5. (courtesy Ed Farshtey)

The name was stolen from Venom’s ‘At War with Satan’ record, since it seemed the perfect name for a fanzine. The first issue came out late spring 1986. We had both been contacting some of out favorite bands and keeping correspondence with them, so we did some interviews, through the mail of course. That’s right, back then if we wanted to interview Tom Warrior we would send him questions in the mail and wait a month or 2 or sometimes longer to get them back.

Yeah! Even featuring Papsmear! The 3rd issue of The Book of Armageddon. (courtesy - Ed Farshtey)

After the first issue me and Mark didn’t see other as often, and as he was getting involved in the growing hardcore scene, I was still rooted in the underground so he only contributed a couple items to future issues and I continued on myself. I did only 4 issues, averaged 1 a year. Each issue got bigger and bigger and I managed to get the zine around the world and I am happy to say that each issue was very well received and respected in the underground. Back when I started the zine it was simply xeroxed at a local copy store. So it didn’t cost that much really.

 Ed 2010 with GT!

The first 2 issues were straight xerox jobs and I probably made half the copies at my dad’s office on the weekends. I would make an initial 200 or so up at the copy store and then make more as the demand increased. The later issues were more expensive since I started having the pictures scanned first and actually had them printed instead of just copied. The most expensive aspect of producing the zine was of course shipping costs. But that came with the territory.

The content was all about the underground. Each issue would feature the top thrash and early death metal bands from around the world as well as exposing all sorts of up and coming bands. The first issue had interviews with Bathory, Celtic Frost, Death, Possessed and of course Dark Angel. They were always a must. I did extensive interviews with Gene Hoglan in every issue. They were the greatest thrash band ever, so why not.

Dark Angel's Gene Hoglan, at the Dark Angel Altar, which was Ed's room! (photo - courtesy Ed Farshtey)

I would review countless new albums and demos that I got, whether I bought them, traded for them or they were sent as promos. I tried to be honest and I ripped into a lot of releases and praised anything I really liked. I used to take a lot of pictures back then so I always had photos for the zine.

 Issue #2 had interviews with Kreator, Slayer, Darkness, Razor, Cryptic Slaughter and both Death and Dark Angel again. Issue #3 had Dark Angel, Voivod, Deathrow, Necrodeath, Aggression, Napalm Death, Thanatos, and more. My final issue came out in 1990, it was my 4th issue and it was certainly my biggest and best yet, with interviews with Voivod, Prime Evil, Sepultura, Armoros, Num Skull, Gargoyle, Dark Angel of course, and more, plus countless album, demo, and show reviews. It was issue #4 that really took off. By that time I had firmly embedded myself deep in the underground and had made countless contacts so I ran through I believe 1000 copies.

Issue #4 of The Book of Armageddon. The issue that blew it all wide open. (courtesy - Ed Farshtey)

I was working on issue #5 when I started working at Roadrunner Records and I just didn’t have the time to get it completed. It was gonna be a monster issue with 18 interviews done including Autopsy, Deceased, Prime Evil, Malevolent Creation, Destruction, Immolation, O.L.D., Death, Ripping Corpse, Mutilated, Exmortis and more. I even had a massive 11 page interview with Dark Angel. I had done plenty of interviews and tons of reviews but it just started getting dated and I didn’t have the time to keep updating it, so I decided to put the zine to rest.

Because I would review anything that I really liked, I would often review demos I received through tape trading. Since I had been involved with trading since 1984, I was always getting new tapes with new demos.Reviewing these random demos led to many of my most cherished friendships from the time. The most important was with the band Prime Evil. I had reviewed their debut demo in issue #3 cause I loved it and after my zine came out, bassist Mary Ciullo wrote me and I instantly built a strong relationship with the whole band that lasted for years, and is still evident today. I ended up releasing their only 7” on my label Rage Records and wrote the liner notes for their cd that King Fowley put out.

Summer 1989 in DC at a Prime Evil gig. Left to Right: Beans from Curious Goods 'zine (holding The Book of Armageddon zine), Prime Evil's roadie, Todd from Prime Evil, Unknown, Gary from Prime Evil,  Jeff Vanderrklute  from Metal Meltdown zine, Ed Farshtey and Andy from Prime Evil. (photo - courtesy Ed Farshtey)

Mary even attended my wedding. Prime Evil I loved, a band that I openly hated back then was Nun Slaughter. I would rag on their early recordings, and because of my honesty, me and Don became good friends, and still are today. Thankfully as they improved I grew to really like them, but I remember sitting in my car back at a Morbid Angel, Acheron, Revenant show in DC listening to the newest Nun Slaughter and telling him I didn’t like it and him respecting that. It’s this honest relationship we all had that kept us friends and feeding off each others opinions and criticisms.

Mark Odechuck & Bob White (Paineater) with Rob Sexton - whom made up part of the Florida based band TORSO. Seen here in 1989 with copies of Bryan Daniel's Invincible Force 'zine. (photo - Bryan Daniel)

The relationships that formed back then are still the strongest of any I’ve ever had and have transcended time and distance. We were all a part of something new and for the first time in most of our lives, we really felt like this is where we belonged. There were a bunch of us around the world that wanted to spread the music through our writings. We weren’t looking for fame or riches, just to help support the scene. That was the time of the fanzines.

 Ultimatum zine editor Kim August (far right) with Chuck Schuldiner (in back) and HenryVeggian (far left). Outside the infamous Streets, New Rochelle, NY 1988 (photo - courtesy Henry Veggian)

Some of my early counterparts included Bloodshed, Cerebral Holocaust, Chainletter, Chainsaw Abortions, Chapel of Ghouls, Codcore, Curious Goods, Death Vomit, Decapitated, Decibels Storm, Disposable Underground, Emanzipation, Eternal Darkness, F.E.T.U., Final Holocaust, Infernal Bleeding, Invincible Force, Metal Meltdown, Metal Core, Metal Curse, Metal Frontline, Metallian, Metallic Butcher, Morbid, Mortician, No Glam Fags, Out of the Underground, Peardrop, Ripping Headaches, Screams from the Gutter, Sick Thrash, Skull Session, Ultimatum, and many more. We all supported one another by printing and circulating each others ads and there was no competition between us. It was all about promoting the music and carving a little niche for ourselves in the underground.


Long before the internet or cell phones or even faxes we had to put a lot of effort into keeping up with our correspondence and finding out about the newest bands, no matter what country they came from. And fanzines were the best way to get the info to the people. We were all drawn into the underground, helped form it, and helped it grow into the monster it became The bands created the music we loved and it was up to the fanzines to help promote them and spread their name around the world.

 Morrisound Studios, Tampa Florida 1990 during the Cannibal Corpse 'Eaten Back To Life' sessions - Left to Right: Bryan Daniel (Invincible Force 'zine), Alan Moses (Buttface 'zine) and Bruce Davis (Ripping Headaches 'zine). (photo - Francis Howard from Incubus)


One of the classic zine covers, in this case, Metal Core #3 (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

Way back in early 1986 I was going to some underground shows in Phila, PA seeing bands like Blacktask and Anvil Bitch at the Empire Rock Club and I started buying and then becoming friends with Scott Helig, who was doing a zine called Total Thrash. At one point he asked and I did a few interviews and a few reviews for his zine and at one point I was giving him so much material that he suggested that I start my own zine. I took that up as some sort of challenge and because I was buying demos, zines, etc I decided what the heck I can do this and decided to start my own. I ended up printing up 150 issues of my 1st issue, and I actually printed a couple extra copies, which I still have.

 Modern day: Chris Forbes with John Verica (Decaying Visions Video 'zine)

 Most of the music I covered, at least in the old days back in the 80's was mostly thrash and early death metal.My first issue came out in December of 1986. My first couple issues I interviewed such bands as Savage Thrust, Savage Death, Black Task, Dark Angel, Possessed, Machine Dog, Anvil Bitch, Faith or Fear, At War, etc. The early issues were pretty much basic stuff like interviews, demo and album (remember no such thing as CD's yet) reviews, zine ads, etc. I did 30 issues before, in 2001, I folded the print version as it was hard getting labels to commit to ads and with the internet becoming a huge thing, print zines at this time were few and far between.

 Metal Core #5, showing the variety of bands covered, and also the glowing fire of artist Bob Plante from Disturbed 'zine, whose work was being utilized around the zine world from Australia to Norway to here at home on US soil. (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

After issue 24, I made the zine free, so from issue # 25 till # 30 the zine was free and it was on newsprint and I was printing and getting rid of 10,000 copies. So I had to at least make a certain amount of money from ads and stuff to keep printing 10,000 copies. Actually when I went to newsprint and started giving the zine away, I easily got rid of 10,000 copies. I would drop off over a 1000 at a store in NJ called Vintage Vinyl and also get rid of a bunch at shows and at the Milwaukee and NJ Deathfest's in the late 80's and in 2000 and 2001. All the issues are long gone, but I think I have like 3 extra copies of issue 30 lying around. The zine has never ended and I just do it on line now.

The first issue of Metal Core which was made available free of charge, #25! (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

I explained that above and I was having a problem with coming up with a name and in early 1986 SOD (Stormtroopers of Death) and Overkill did a short 7 date tour that they dubbed the "Metal Core" tour so I thought that would be a cool name for a zine and so I stole the name from that tour he he.

Chris and Maria Abril at NJ Metalfest 2001 (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

Zines were one of the few ways you could discover new bands! There was no internet, no My Space and no big metal mags that were covering this stuff. I mean you had Kerrang and a bit later on Metal Forces, but zines were the way you could read interviews with unsigned bands and read reviews of unsigned bands from all over the world. The best mag I ever read was the sadly missed Kick Ass Monthly. Bob the editor of the mag (rip) was simply the best. I worshipped that mag. When I first started doing the zine I would go up to Rock N Roll Heaven in Old Bridge, NJ and buy every zine I could and then I would go and write (that's right...WRITE) and bands that had demos reviewed and would start requesting them to send me a demo to review.

Chris and Jenn Matthews from Metal Mafia zine at Milwaukee Metalfest 1998. (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

Another cool thing was flooding each letter I wrote with flyers I got from various bands and other zines. Old timers will remember those days as I would write letter after letter and stuff as many flyers as I could fit in a letter and back in the day I also made tons of flyers for my zine. Another thing I did was I was and still am very honest in my reviews. if I love you I will praise you, but if I hate you, I will trash you. I do not kiss ass....

Chris Forbes (Metal Core), Tom Wren (Metal Nightmare) and Chris from Bloodstorm. Milwaukee Metalfest 1998. (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

I'll never forget the first package I got and that was from Combat Records and they sent me Possessed and Dark Angel to review. It was great going to Lamour's in Brooklyn back in the day and seeing Slayer, Overkill, Carnivore, Savage Thrust, Biohazard, and many others. All the great shows I saw at City Garden's in Trenton and at the Slayer "Reign in Blood" tour I dove off the stage during "Chemical Warfare" and everybody moved and I hit the floor and almost didn't get up.

 Full of personal highlights, Metal Core #10 still ranks high on Chris' list. (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

Interviewing Metallica for issue # 10. Having Phil Demmel from Violence telling me I was the first zine to review their demo for issue # 2. Having Combat Records invite me backstage when they were doing the Ultimate Revenge 2 taping at the Troc in Phila. All those times after shows at Lamour's, G Wilkers, City Gardens, The Empire Rock Club, Bonnie's and other clubs trying to get people to buy my zine. Seeing 10,000 copies of issue 25 when I went to newsprint and wondering how in the hell I am going to get rid of all those copies. Going to those old Milwaukee Metalfest Shows and meeting people that I had only known from writing letters back and forth. Another thing is I was getting so much mail at one point so I got a Po Box and to this day I still get a thrill going and opening up my box and seeing a cd in there that some band or label sent to me to review.

 Check out one of the longest running underground zine legends:




Seems like such a strange thing to the new breed, but this cover sums up the glory, borderless scenes where anything could happen musically - ushering in levels of creativity alien to today's plastic mainstream of cookie cutter, rehashed music resting on the shoulders of the cliques. Metal Core #2, our scene in a single drawing! (courtesy - Chris Forbes)

1 comment:

Robert Plante said...

Man, I wish I had a copy of that Metal Core issue I drew the cover for! Totally forgot about that. Keep up the great work...Hi Ed and Chris!

--Bob Plante