The Entropy of Discourse (1995-2015)
by: Jeremy Ulrey
I missed the ground floor. Chronicles of Chaos was already a bit long in the tooth when I threw my gauntlet in the ring. I'd have to go back and look to be sure, but I want to say my tenure with CoC started around 2006-07. I must have started reading it not too awful long after it launched in 1995, as I recall often getting it confused with Corridor of Cells, a long defunct review site whose only relevant Google result returns an independently archived page from '96.

'06, '07... whatever it was, I'd been out of the game for a while at that point, hanging up my pen for several years of itinerant soul searching, a time during which pretty much all of my belongings fit in a duffle bag, and those belongings did not include a place for a laptop. And so, when I settled back in and decided to get back to work writing about metal, Chronicles of Chaos was the first site that I thought to audition for.

Pedro and Gino were gracious enough to tolerate me while I brushed the rust off. I stuck around for three years or so before finally jumping ship, not out of any animosity or burnout, but because I mistakenly thought at the time that I wanted to get more into features and news reporting. By that point around the turn of the decade, blogs and RSS feeds were already commonplace... I'd go so far as to say at the zenith of their popularity. And so, a lot of the annoying trends that have long since turned my own Feedly reader into a sort of genre-specific, low-rent TMZ were already starting to coalesce, trends which soured me pretty quickly on the "reporting" angle I'd initially hoped to get my feet wet with. "Did so-and-so call out such-and-such?" Who gives a fuck.

Here we are, another half-decade or so down the road, and those same trends have finally put the nail in the coffin of my old haunt, Chronicles of Chaos. By the time you read this, it will be one of the last articles on the site, a well-earned eulogy to an index that will be there for future generations to bone up on metal and extreme music of the past twenty years up to present, but will have nothing to say about what lurks for music festivals post-Mayhem, who Dave Mustaine pissed off this week or how you should be purchasing physical media because Spotify doesn't pay shit.

What used to be called "journalism" in the world of heavy metal has slowly succumbed to whoring outrage filter for page hits, but that's not what did CoC in. This was always a review site first and foremost, the occasional interview or editorial aside. But streaming is king now, and instead of one or two pre-release singles, it's typical these days for 2/3 of an album's tracks to have already been leaked by the record label before the street date ever comes around in the first place.

Speaking of leaks, justly paranoid PR representatives now tend to withhold promos of key titles until close to the street date to lessen the chances of the album showing up on a file-sharing network (I can tell you with all certainty but with no great joy that it's bloggers and other industry folk that -- wittingly or no -- are responsible for most torrent leaks). CoC was always a writer-friendly site, never too concerned with other sites scooping them and basically giving us ample time to live with an album for several weeks or even months before sitting down to share our thoughts. That relaxed sense of urgency doesn't fly so much in a culture where fans listen to an album on Spotify the day it comes out, simultaneously reading the reviews while the record streams, and with the seeming sole purpose of either confirming their quick hit impressions or at least giving them something to bitch about in the comments.

Oh yeah, CoC has never done comments.

There will likely be regrettably few pundits openly mourning the closing up of shop here. Aside from a handful of us starry eyed nostalgists, Chronicles of Chaos will probably go out with more of a quiet fading of the lights than a dramatic curtain drop, and that's OK. We as a scene get what we deserve, and it looks like what we deserve right now are greased palms, mutual back scratching and an audience which refuses to matriculate past 7th grade knee jerk angst... at least the ones who actually post, and posted comments are a key driver of advertising metrics these days, relevancy or pointlessness be damned.

CoC was never about any of those things, and so this final balancing of the books ultimately ends up in the credit column: far from a prolonged winding down of decreased margins and shelved ambitions, the demise of CoC represents instead a triumph of ideals and dedication to strong, unbiased writing. Those of us who spilled our blood for this site week in and week out for free knew there was never an IPO at the end of the rainbow, and we wouldn't have had it any other way. Prosit.

(article submitted 12/8/2015)


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