Ah yes, the alliterative title, my old friend, I couldn't resist employing you one last time.
Truth be told, though, the hardest thing about writing an editorial such as this one is trying to come up with an introduction that isn't just some worn out cliché, "I can't believe it's been twenty years..." or an ego stroking bunch of nonsense, "If we had known twenty years ago how massively influential CoC would become...".
I've been struggling for a few days now on how to start this piece and I realized my problem at the end of the day is trying to express how wholly and completely the existence of Chronicles of Chaos has shaped my life these past twenty years. It's only dawned on me as I write this editorial that Chronicles of Chaos today, at twenty, is older than I was when starting it at eighteen years of age.
Back then being both a metal geek and a computer geek defined me (perhaps it still does?) and CoC was the culmination of both those passions. In many ways 1995 was the dawn of the Internet. Google was still three years away from being founded. Websites were mainly viewed in text only browsers. Email mailing lists and Usenet and IRC were the only "social media" outlets where people of similar interests gathered.
I voraciously consumed every bit of metal music, news, reviews, interviews from every outlet I could find: print, television, word of mouth. And although I could find plenty of discussion and heated arguments on this nascent Internet, what was lacking was something properly organized; something full of insightful writing of professional calibre with a laser focus on the most extreme forms of metal.
It wasn't until I met Adrian Bromley (by picking him out of the crowd of people at a Slayer show in Toronto) that writing about metal for an audience seemed feasible. Adrian was one of the main writers for a free Toronto area metal mag named MEAT Magazine that I devoured every month. Once I got to running in those circles it became clear that I could bring forth a "publication" of equivalent quality in a purely electronic format.
Pitching the idea to Adrian turned his excitement dial to 11; which was always a sight to behold, as anyone who knew him can attest to. Having all of the connections in the scene that Adrian did made the difference in getting CoC off the ground and quickly grow into something that was taken seriously by bands and labels alike.
But what stands out more than anything else were the emails we received thanking us for publishing a free magazine exclusively in electronic format, making it more accessible and seemingly more personal than print magazines and even fan 'zines of the time. This was also borne out by the fact that so many of these fans reached out to us with submissions that we gladly printed when of sufficient quality, with a lot of those fans transitioning to full fledged staff members.
With the addition of Pedro after a year and a half, we'd finally grown our staff into the multi-national mosaic that it would forever become. The fact that our staff was populated with so many thoughtful, intelligent voices -- most with a high level of education -- gave lie to the stereotype of the Meathead Metalhead.
I will admit that I sometimes let the fact that I was the "editor-in-chief" of the Internet's "first and best electronic metal mag" go to my head. Paying for CDs? Pffft... that was for the plebes. Waiting in line at concerts? Only for the unwashed masses. For a time it seemed that Adrian and I owned the scene in Toronto, and it felt great even if it was just a figment of my teenage imagination.
And so it was that Chronicles of Chaos endured. Our readership grew, our staff grew, and with it the magazine became an outlet for more and different genres of extreme music and points of view.
But the one thing that kept CoC going for twenty years was the camaraderie of the staff. Everything we did, we did as a team. Many friendships that endure to this day sprang from our involvement with the mag. Life would get the better of people and it would be time to step down, but they were always considered alumni and welcome to continue playing a role in the magazine. There was always a queue of neophytes auditioning for staff spots. The constant replenishment of staff was our life-blood. It was what kept CoC fresh and exciting and constantly rejuvenated.
So what changed? Why are we closing the doors and fading to black at this moment in time? What led to this decision?
To that question I answer with another question; do metal fans in 2015 need magazines like Chronicles of Chaos to help shape, influence and guide their journey through the various sub-genres of our beloved music? Just do a search on YouTube and you'll find your answer. Today every song, every album, everything you hear talked about in all metal forums, Facebook pages or Twitter feeds are right at your fingertips for the sampling. Why waste your time reading a long and insightful review when you can type in a quick Google search and form your own opinion by listening to the album itself?
The barrier to entry is so low these days, that you don't need more than a couple of sentences from some anonymous poster on a forum to pique your interest before going and downloading an album for free. Gone are the days where you had only x amount of dollars to spend on a few CDs and you needed the kind of thoughtful, well written reviews that Chronicles of Chaos would provide.
Couple that with the fact that there are fewer and fewer metal fans both capable of and willing to write to the level of quality we demand. Most of the auditions we've had over the past several years have been laughably poor, and the fact that our newest writer Julia Semprich was the only successful audition in years only reinforces the fact that there are fewer and fewer people out there willing to put in the time and effort to produce the quality CoC has always been known for.
I have no doubt that having played things differently we could have grown Chronicles of Chaos into a huge player in metal journalism. With ad money and our pioneering status on the Internet; with paid staff and Pedro and I making CoC our full-time jobs, we could've either been the biggest voice in metal today or have crashed and burned fifteen years ago.
Either way it wouldn't have been the CoC that you know today. Since its founding, we've always held to certain principles that by definition would limit our growth: being 100% ad free and non-commercial; exclusively having unpaid staff; making decisions together as a unit instead of ruling by fiat. Truly honest opinions only come from those writers with no vested interest in the music media business and those publications not beholden to ad money lavished upon them by labels.
So here I am, writing my final editorial for those who have made it this far through my ramblings. There are many people I have to thank, not least of which is each and every staff member that has helped CoC build its massive database of material over these past twenty years. Whether you wrote one article or hundreds, the magazine was defined by each and everyone of you.
However, it goes without saying that my biggest debt of gratitude goes to Pedro Azevedo. Without Pedro, Chronicles of Chaos wouldn't have even survived to its ten year anniversary, not to mention its twentieth. It's safe to say that Pedro is the driving force behind the magazine and the keeper of its high level of quality. As most of the writers can attest to, his proof-reading and hard-nosed attention to detail were the only things that kept CoC's standards of quality at the highest echelons over our twenty year lifespan.
And then there's Adrian. My co-founder and lifelong friend. How much I wish he could have been here to see us reach this milestone and say a few words of his own. As I've mentioned above, without Adrian my life would've been a lot less interesting, my lust for metal a lot less intense and Chronicles of Chaos would never have been a twinkle in my eye, not to mention a reality. His absence has been felt by the multitudes that called him a friend and I feel it every time I listen to the great bands we saw, met, interviewed and partied together with. He'll be forever missed, and never forgotten. Rest in peace, brother.
Finally, trite as it may sound, not just me but everyone that's ever been involved with CoC is in debt to you, our readers -- from those just discovering us recently through a random Google search to those that have been with us since CoC #1 (if you're out there, I want to hear from you!!). The only reason our staff puts in the time and effort they do for zero monetary gain of their own is because they feel as passionately about this strange music of ours as you all do.
I'm sure some of you must be wondering what will become of Chronicles of Chaos' twenty year old database of articles chronicling an entire generation or two of the metal world. Well we wouldn't want to deprive the Internet of such a critical resource now, would we? Even though we're closing the chapter on CoC's life as an active publication, we're opening the chapter on its "read-only" life by keeping its archive open in perpetuity. For the moment this means that nothing changes on our website, other than the fact that new articles will no longer appear. In the next few months, however, Pedro and I are planning on implementing a whole new design to the website to make it more archive-centric and in the process updating its look to something more modern and mobile friendly.
Be sure to check out Pedro's editorial as well as Rants from many of our staff members both past and present. Their view of the scene over the past 20 years through the lens of their involvement with CoC is quite enlightening and can be found on our front page
Also we'll be leaving open one last email address by which you can contact us, for any reason, going forward. We'd love to hear from you at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Farewell everyone and thank you for an incredible ride.