Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles
Issues #67, 68, 69
$7 with CD
(368 Yonge St. Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 1S5)
by Scott Hefflon
For those who don’t get out much, this is the best metal mag in North America. Monthly, glossy, colorful, fair, and well-rounded, Brave Words (or BW&BK) is 72 pages of metal fanaticism. Run by the metal-obsessed, for the metal-obsessed, BW&BK requires you already know yer ass from yer elbow metal-wise. As it should be. Let watered-down mainstream “hard rock” mags pander to the dumbfucks, if you like metal, you probably already have a friend or two who reads Brave Words, and if yer new to extreme music, well, this isn’t exactly an entry-level course, but welcome to class anyway…
Brave Words is neatly divided into news and updates, hard rock (Styx, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Foghat… you get the picture), extreme metal, and one and two-page features ranging from ’80s metal giants to underground death, black, and power metal bands. There are reviews galore – often a couple writers taking a stab at the same record – there are Top Ten picks, and a metal forecast section listing upcoming releases. Top Tens, to me, are either helpful or a delusional wank (thinking thousands of readers really give a shit what you think and follow your every run-on sentence is/was a common fantasy for ‘zines), but I think Brave Words has earned the right. It’s helpful to know their perspective before you let some fanboy advise you, ya know? Hell, I’d do the same thing in Lollipop, but most of us are into such varied stuff that it really wouldn’t guide any lost souls. But within a genre-specific mag, you can easily read the Top Tens, find a writer who likes the same stuff you do, and pay closer attention when their byline pops up.
There’s almost no nü metal here, nor is there much of any hardcore, but there are other mags and ‘zines that pander to that crowd, so while yet another Iron Maiden or Judas Priest feature may elicit a groan or a chuckle, hell, ya know where Brave Words is coming from, and you respect their passion. Metal fans are an elitist, finicky crowd, and I throw BW&BK across the room for being clueless shitheads far, far less than I do most other mags. They’re a little too polite for my tastes, and sometimes I find their grievances with a CD, ya know, kinda petty, but if you’ve ever tried to read one of those PC indie rock ‘zines (I won’t bother to name names), you realize that Brave Words writers have a deep love of the music and are affected very deeply by it, they’re not just little posers being mean to sound cool.
Features from the last few issues: Cradle of Filth, Kamelot, Strapping Young Lad, Grave, Amon Amarth, Stratovarious, Behemoth, Zakk Wylde, Voivod, The Haunted, Marduk, Over Kill, Old Man’s Child, Children of Bodom, Nevermore, Evergrey, Soilwork, Anthrax, Helloween, Katatonia, Green Carnation, and Darkthrone. Oh, and each issue comes with a CD sampler called Knuckletracks with 15-18 bands or so ranging from the bigger underground “push” bands to unsigned bands trying to get heard. A mixed bag, but there’re always a few cool bands ya never heard of that yer glad ya did. Those are the bands you namedrop around your friends to show how deeply you’re into the scene, thus proving what a big dick you have.