Issue #17 $4
(PO Box 2717 Oakland, CA 94602)
by Scott Hefflon
It’s been nearly four years since the last issue of Industrial Nation. In a very personal editorial, Editor/designer Vig Vigler tells the heart-wrenching tale of moving, packing up boxes with his live-in girlfriend Geri, and, while he was gone unloading boxes at their new apartment, his girlfriend had a bad asthma attack and died.
Issue #17 looks sharp, lemme tell you. “Back in the day,” we all were printed on shitty newsprint and had clunky layout. But technology has come a long way, and now easy and attractive hi-res layouts are available on bleached paper stock (there are some color glossy pages mixed in as well). At just under 100 pages, IN proposes to come out twice a year, and for a genre-specific magazine that looks this good and reads this thoroughly, that’s probably all ya need. There are 19 freakin’ features (Assemblage 23, Noisex, Hocico, Informatik, Male or Female, Covenant, DJ? Acucrack, Suicide Commando, Alec Empire, Conjure One, Severed Heads, Biotek, Psyche, Somatic Responses, Corvin Dalek, Aiboforcen, Kompressor, and Massiv in Mensch) ranging from two to five pages each, and as with some of the better genre-specific mags, their review section often offers multiple takes on a single release. There are a couple scene reports (split between coverage of local bands and candid shots from the clubs), brief columns on experimental, techno, and drum & bass, and some “other” reviews of books, DVDs, and such.
Industrial Nation distinguishes itself by being well-written and knowledgeable. Perhaps that shouldn’t be such a surprise, seeing as they’re obviously die-hard fans. But passionate fans, knowledgeable fans, and decent writers are three separate things, and IN is lucky enough to get the balance just right. Very few of the writers are the pretentious jerk-offs who name-drop obscure bands to show how smart they are, and very few writers ruthlessly tear into things. They don’t fawn, they don’t say something sucks without expressing why, and their reference points all seem very well-thought-out. Again, that probably shouldn’t be a surprise because the mag’s been around (more or less) since ’91, but it’s a real pleasure to read smart, passionate writing after skimming shitty, uneducated ‘zines and a box of writing samples from potential reviewers that are so clunky and wrong that it makes me squirm and need to wash immediately afterwards.
Other distinct things about IN is that there are no fashion spreads, and there’s no Goth metal. Industrial Nation proudly comes from the Goth and industrial background (more the latter than the former), so they leave the metal to the metal mags, and they cover what appeals to them. My own leanings are from a metal background, but I respect IN for drawing the line and sticking to it. Nothing stinks like pandering to a genre for increased readership or advertising revenue. IN is what it is, and they’re good at it, and you either follow what they’re writing about or you realize you have some research to do. Lots of the bands covered are European or unsigned (or on Metropolis, of course), but there’re addresses listed. No urls, which is a shame, but that’s what Google’s for.
If you have any interest whatsoever in Goth or industrial music, subscribe to IN so you don’t miss an issue. It’s cheap, it’s a reputable reference guide, and, to quote The Matrix, it shows you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.