Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of my dear friend Adrian Bromley. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already, but it’s even harder to believe that he’s gone. It was as unexpected then as it is hard to believe now. Just one of those things that you never expect to happen.
I first met Adrian back in 1995 at Molson Amphitheatre, as we were both there to interview Fear Factory. Adrian was speaking to them for either M.E.A.T. Magazine or Chronicles Of Chaos, while I was there doing a radio interview with them for CKLN’s Aggressive Rock. He struck me right away as a likable, genuine person – although truth be told I am pretty sure he thought I was hitting on his friend Kim that was with him (I wasn’t). We exchanged phone numbers, I kept reading him in his publications and he kept listening to me on the radio, but never really crossing paths too much – at least not then.
A little more than a year later, Adrian was contacting me at my new job asking me to arrange interviews with him (and asking me to book ads) for his new magazine, Unrestrained!. It was something he was starting up with Adam Waslyk as a quarterly all-metal magazine, and I was more than happy to oblige them with interviews with Brutal Truth, Mortician and Deceased. He had big plans right from the get-go for the magazine, wanting to make it into a renowned underground metal magazine from the get go. It’s something that he definitely achieved.
One of my fondest memories of Adrian – and the whole early Unrestrained! crew (Adrian, Adam, Alex Ristic and Chris Bruni) – was meeting up with them shortly after issue #2 was released at Ed Balog‘s old Black Mark Productions office in Toronto and then going out for beer and lunch at a pub just behind the BMP office on Britain Street in Toronto. It was my first time sitting down and talking metal with him for a long period of time and it really made me realize, even more than before, that this was a guy following his passion and going for it. My respect for him grew even more that day. He was so passionate and also so entusiastic that you couldn’t help but have some of his enthusiasm rub off onto you.
I kept up with Adrian after that, constantly seeing him at shows and reading what he had to say in his own Unrestrained!, as well as his freelance work in Metal Maniacs. You could always count on Adrian being close to the door at any Inertia Entertainment show in Toronto, almost as if he was part of the welcoming committee. Adrian knew everyone in the Toronto scene and everyone was always happy to see him. If the Toronto metal community was the television show Cheers, Adrian was the character Norm.
In 2005, my relationship with Adrian tightened even more when he asked me to write for him. I had always been a fan of the magazine, even offering to help them out way back in the beginning, but never followed through with it until Adrian just came out and asked me one day in the midst of one of his regular blitzkrieg phone calls. “Sean, write for Unrestrained!. I always liked your stuff and I’m not sure why I’ve never asked you. Come on, do it for metal.” And with that, I was in.
Adrian ran a tight ship with U!. He had pretty strict deadlines that he somehow managed to keep to. More than once he pushed me under the gun to get things done for him, and I always delivered because of his tenacity and passion. He did a million things at once, but always managed to get all of them done. I don’t know how, but he managed.
In 2006, shortly after we went to the New England Metal Fest together along with Kevin Stewart-Panko, Mark Coatsworth and Matt Lewis (another great weekend I’ll never forget), Adrian packed up his Toronto belongings and made the move to NYC to work for the The End Records. He started a new life down there, met a great partner in his fiancee Renee and started planning for the future. He’d ask me on the phone about what it was like to have kids, how it impacted my life in relation to metal and if I thought he could balance working at the End, doing U!, being married and having a family. I was pretty sure he could do it, as long as he stopped obsessing about owning every single piece of available metal vinyl in the Western Hemisphere, which always made him laugh when I said that to him.
I’ll never forget the day that Adrian passed away. Kevin Stewart-Panko came to pick me up to do Hellbound Radio and had a really long look on his face, which is something unusual for him. He’s always bright and happy, but not on this day so I knew something was up. When we got into his car, he said “are you seated? I have something to tell you. Bromley died this morning in his sleep.” That evening’s edition of Hellbound Radio was the worst show we have ever done and it will be the worst show we ever do. It wasn’t common knowledge yet either, so we were asked to not mention it on the air. I felt like someone had stabbed my heart out and being at that radio station was one of the hardest three hours of my life.
Unrestrained! ceased to be almost immediately after Adrian’s unfortunate (and way too fucking early!) passing, with Metal Maniacs closing down shortly afterwards. With my main two writing gigs now gone, I knew there was a whole crew of great U! writers that had one (or possibly two) less places to write for, so it is for that reason that this website was started. Hellbound.ca could never replace Unrestrained!, and I wouldn’t even try to do that, but I hope that somehow Adrian sees this and knows that it started because of his inspiration.
Adrian, I love ya buddy and I think about you all the time. Kevin and I have spent many a car ride talking about the funny things that had happened when you were around. I wish you were still here, I still look for you at every Toronto metal show, somehow hoping that you’ll be there, just inside the main doors of the Opera House with that big grin on your face. Shows just aren’t the same without you.
My condolences to Adrian’s fiancee Renee, to his brother and sister and to his mom and the rest of his family on this saddest of days. Please know that Adrian was loved by many, that he touched the hearts of all he met, and that he will never be forgotten.