Hellbound.ca turned 5 years old earlier this month and we’re ready to celebrate!
Wow, I sometimes find it hard to imagine that this little webzine that we started oh so long ago is still around, but here we are, a little more than five years later. Hellbound.ca is still here, still turning out great features and still growing into a bigger and better site.
The end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 noted a few significant events that set the stage for Hellbound.ca to begin. The death of Unrestrained! editor Adrian Bromley happened at the end of ’08. It was a shock to all of us and a huge loss to the metal community. It also signaled the end of a great run that Unrestrained! had, leaving a number of us with one less place to write for. The second event that happened was the decision by some hippies to stop publishing Metal Maniacs as a regular print magazine. Within only a few months I found myself without a home for my writing and I pondered for a little while what to do.
In early May I started asking some of my then-favourite writers if they’d be interested in contributing to a new Canadian-based metal webzine. Much to my surprise most of them said yes. I was thrilled to have great writers such as Adrien Begrand, Tate Bengston, Laura Wiebe and Kevin Stewart-Panko show enthusiasm and take the time to contribute. I also put a call out on Facebook and through a few online message boards and through that met a whole bunch of new writers. I also managed to convince some of my local pals who were huge metal fans and had never written before to contribute. We have had many more fantastic writers join us since then, but these were the people that really helped kick the zine off back in 2009.
I would have a hard time trying to pick my favourite Hellbound.ca moment, so I am not going to even try. I feel like all of the articles that have been published are worthy of praise. I am so grateful to all of the contributors past and present that took the time to write for the site and would like to thank them all. I should really thank all of them individually, and I need to actually do that one day, but for now I hope they all realize just how appreciated they are.
Extra extra special thanks to Laura Wiebe and Adam Wills for all the extra effort they have put into Hellbound.ca in the last eight or nine months. With my recent transition from my old career to my new one I find I have very little time for anything and I haven’t been able to spend much time on Hellbound. Adam single-handedly redesigned the site and Laura has been running the ship full steam ahead with almost no input from me. She’s doing a fantastic job with it and I am so delighted that she offered to help with the day to day stuff.
I don’t know if we could ever make it a go for another five years, but we surpassed my own expectations about three years ago. It’s been a fun trip so far; let’s hope it continues for many years to come.
I’ve been here for the whole ride, even if my contributions (before I took on the editorial helm) were scattered. It’s been a pleasure from the first moment and I’m proud to be working alongside such talented writers and photographers!
Having survived five years as a metal site powered entirely through the labour of love (passion for this crazy, often parodied, sometimes demonized and occasionally celebrated set of genres and subgenres), we figured we were due for a little self-congratulation. In that spirit, you will find below some highlights from Hellbound’s achievements so far. Several Hellbounders have selected a few of their favourite Hellbound moments, from their own contributions to some of the best reads from the archives. Consider it a reminder but also a chance to catch up on some of the great stuff you may have missed the first time around.
I would like to echo the thanks (which you will encounter below) to Hellbound founder, publisher and editor-in-chief Sean Palmerston and his partner (-in crime), Leanne. None of this would have happened without the Palmerstons’ dedication to and support for the music we all love, but Sean’s openness to a range of writing styles and perspectives and his willingness to let Hellbound grow and mutate organically have also been crucial for making Hellbound the special beast it is.
To those of you reading this, please feel free to barrage us in the comments section below with any of your own highlights from Hellbound’s first five years.
Happy birthday to us! (and as a p.s., thanks to the internet for the selection of metal birthday memes)
— Laura Wiebe, Associate Editor (of Doom)
Some favourite Hellbound moments:
Justin Norton’s 2011 interview with Varg Vikernes was extraordinary. Varg was taking email interview submissions from pretty much anyone willing to do it, including pretty much every print magazine, and I don’t know if he was in a good mood or Justin asked the right combination of questions, but the responses were the most candid out of any interview published that year, including Decibel‘s much-ballyhooed cover story.
Sean Palmerston’s look back at the 1985 World War III Festival, a crucial moment for Canadian heavy metal, was a valuable history lesson. The North American debuts of Celtic Frost and Destruction, along with Voivod, Possessed, and Nasty Savage, that easily ranks as one of the best metal fest lineups ever.
70000 Tons of Metal Cruise Recap: This one’s very near and dear to me. In January 2011, through an old friend, I was offered a cabin on a new metal cruise called 70,000 Tons of Metal. Little did my friend know I was a metal writer. I had barely over a week to find three friends willing to come along. You try finding three people who are able to drop everything, fly to Miami, and spend nearly a week on a cruise ship right after the holidays. It’s not easy! I reached out to my buddy Sean Palmerston, and after some scrambling, he, Kevin Stewart-Panko, and Albert Mansour were along for the ride. Going into the inaugural 70,000 Tons of Metal, nobody, not the bands, not the passengers, had any clue how this would work out, but it turned out to be an incredible trip for us all, whether it was Sean playing basketball with Gary Holt, me FINALLY seeing Voivod and Raven play live, Albert getting his Cripper CD signed, or Kevin stupefying the cruise staff by not spending a single dime on the ship.
Gruesome Greg’s Five Favourite Blog Posts
I first started writing for Hellbound five years ago, within weeks of the site’s existence. Sean had posted a general call for writers on the BraveBoard (which I still frequented at the time), and it seemed like a credible operation with a solid cast already assembled, so I threw my Weed Metal trucker hat into the ring. 😉
When Sean asked if anyone wanted to do a blog, I said “Sure, why not?” At first, I blogged sporadically (although still far more often than anyone else who’d been given blogging privileges), but eventually settled into a weekly rhythm. Not gonna lie, the reason I tried to post something every Saturday was to remind people that my radio show, Smokin’ Green, aired (a lot) later that night on CKLN. When the station went under, I got into podcasting, but kept with the blog for a while. In fact, I blog more than ever now… just not for Hellbound. Since late August 2011, the main receptacle for my random thoughts has been gruesomeviews.com—but I never would’ve started that site if I hadn’t gotten the blogging bug from Hellbound. And hey, I still write all my new music reviews for this site, so there’s that.
Anyways, here are a few of my favourite Hellbound blog posts from over the years:
“And if we made our politicians pay $425 every time they showed up for work, we’d balance the budget in no time!” – August 31, 2013: My diatribe against the Conservative government’s new tax on foreign touring musicians spawned a Hardcore Against Harper compilation album… which was also my idea. I even had a guy offer to do the artwork! OK, so it never really got off the ground. I’d still love to hear a cracking version of “Fuck Jason Kenney to Death,” though.
“Toronto is Doomed? Not anytime soon!” – May 19, 2012: In which I make the case as to why Toronto will never host a major doom-metal festival. (Still hasn’t happened yet!)
“This Is The End, My Friends…” – April 16, 2011: My eulogy to college radio. A former CKLN volunteer once told me that it was the most lucid, logical thing he had read about the end of the station, despite, he added, coming from “that stoner-rock guy.”
“Best weekend ever…” – September 19, 2010: About the time I saw Sleep and YOB in Portland, then caught the Seahawks’ first game under Pete Carroll in Seattle the next day. This was a Hellbound exclusive; unfortunately, I wasn’t bringing my camera to concerts yet.
HONOURABLE MENTION: “Farewell to the 3Tards…” – July 19, 2009: While this wasn’t the first blog post I ever wrote, it was actually the second. I even received props from John Tard himself, after he had to step in and defend his band against an overzealous Threat Signal fan. (Sadly, all the comments from the old version of the site disappeared when we upgraded.) And so, my journey began…
I don’t know what my favourite Hellbound feature is. I’ve been reading the site since it sprung into life, and I’ve read a lot of great reviews, interviews, and features. However, if I had to pick the most important feature for me, I’d have to go with Natalie Zed’s Postcards series.
Back in the day, Hellbound ran a competition to win 50 CDs, of which Natalie was the winner, and she went on to review every album. That was the first time I’d read Natalie’s writing, and as we all know, she’s gone on to write many insightful reviews and features since then. But, what Natalie’s Postcards series best represents, for me, is hope. It was reading Natalie’s words that got me wondering if maybe I could write somewhere overseas, and I’m forever grateful to Hellbound’s Sean Palmerston for being the very first editor from outside New Zealand to grant me the opportunity to do just that.
Reading Natalie’s words is not just a pleasure because she’s a great writer, it’s also a reminder that inspiration and reward can come from anywhere. I know I’m not alone in enjoying Hellbound because it’s a fighter, giving chances to writers, like me, who wanted to make a mark. Hellbound may be Canadian in origin, but from 8000-plus miles away, it encouraged me to think that a word or two from my end of the world does matter. I owe a huge debt to Sean, and the entire Hellbound crew, for that.
So, cheers, Hellbound. Cheers, Sean. And Natalie, thanks a bunch, mate.
For my Best of Hellbound So Far I’m going to get a bit selfish. Hellbound is the first site that gave me a chance to write for them other than my own blog. For that I am truly grateful. So I’d like to highlight three posts of mine that stand out for me plus a couple that have left a lasting impression from Mr. Palmerston himself and my West Coast homie Kyle Harcott.
Watching Hellbound grow and evolve over the last five years has been a thrill. I’ve made new friends (online and in three dimensions), read a lot of outstanding work, and gotten to promote some of my favourite artists along the way. Personally, the most memorable piece was the first thing I pitched to that Sean Palmerston guy—a two-part review of the Noctis III Metal Fest. In hindsight, what I’m most proud of is that it forged a connection between Hellbound and Noctis as some of us (Kyle, Sean, Sarah and Adrien) continued to cover and even participate in subsequent festivals.
Another of my favourite articles (and I hope he doesn’t mind) was Kyle Harcott’s review of Tank’s War Machine and the rage-a-thon that ensued in the comments, all of which unfortunately disappeared with the last site redesign. Trust me, it was pure entertainment, and kind of a sad example of the crap that a forthright and honest reviewer sometimes has to contend with in this era.
I began writing for Hellbound five years ago. Yes, that’s right. One of the originals and I’m proud of it. Sixteen years old, full of angst, and hopelessly, passionately, in love with metal. I hated high school and coped through eating, sleeping and breathing the stuff. I couldn’t care less about the information being chalked on the blackboard—my brain was blasting riffs from Metallica’s Ride The Lightning. As I grew older, my mental stereo pressed play on much darker, atmospheric things—Transylvanian Hunger, In The Nightside Eclipse and exotic, imported goods like Hangman’s Hymn from Japanese black metal emperors Sigh. I mean, who cared about math anyway? With an average of 40 per cent on each test, why not write about what was really on my mind?
Blame social media for my start at Hellbound. After spending some time writing for another local webzine, I discovered a group on Facebook created by Sean Palmerston to promote a new publication in the works. There was contact information and a note on recruitment of contributors. I was impressed by so many familiar names from Terrorizer, Decibel and Metal Maniacs. I copied Sean’s email, wrote a long message with insane enthusiasm and samples of published work, and hit ‘Send.’ Turns out I was what Sean regards as his “first cold call” to write for the ‘zine. [current Hellbound page on Facebook – ed.]
I’ve been here ever since and accomplished things I had never dreamed of: hanging out with Anvil in a dingy, basement dressing room, interviewing Philip H. Anselmo, covering a Metallica concert alongside one of my favourite writers (shout out to Laina Dawes), cooking recipes from bands around the world and receiving an early acceptance to my university of choice—all because my Hellbound work was submitted as a portfolio.
Now, I’m a graduate of the Journalism program at Ryerson University. All of the sounds I’ve heard over the years, the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen connect to my unwavering love for music. Despite my shared love of many genres, metal is my first, and I have been so lucky to express this in writing. Hellbound, it is with immense gratitude that you’re in my life.
To our readers: keep following this publication. We’re more than just a “premiere source.” This is metal coverage with expertise, personality and heart—at its finest.
1. Blasphemous Meals: The Blasphemy Blog is my personal writing space, which has given me the opportunity to share my love of global cuisine and cooking through the Blasphemous Meals food features. A few years ago, I was given Annick Giroux’s Hellbent For Cooking: The Heavy Metal Cookbook (published by Ian Christe’s Bazillion Points). It crushes stereotypes of metalheads eating nothing but crap, like burgers and nachos. (Hey, there are recipes for those, too, but they’re well done). Many dishes share traditional ethnic cuisine from the band’s country of origin, or are recipes passed down by grandparents. Comprised of 101 meals from bands around the world, it is the ultimate source for guttural gourmet. I am still cooking (and eating) my way through it.
3. Personal essays
4. Collaborative Top 10 Canada Day and Year-End Features
It’s amazing to me that five years has passed since Sean Palmerston and I launched Hellbound.ca. We wanted it to be a metal magazine by fans for fans. We wanted the writing to be thoughtful and intelligent, reflecting all the smart and talented lovers and makers of great music that we knew. And it is, more so than ever!
Probably one of my favourite things at Hellbound is Ola Mazzuca’s Blasphemous Meals series that has Ola cooking and reviewing recipes from Annick Giroux’s Hellbent for Cooking. Check it out and try not to drool all over the gorgeous photos of delicious meals.
— Your Fearsome Web Goddess, Leanne Palmerston
1. Postcards From Natalie Zed (Installments #1-#13) – When I started reading Hellbound.ca, just before I started writing for the site, I looked forward to reading new installments of the Postcards From Natalie Zed column. These brief album reviews were as quirky, poetic and down right beautiful as they were easy to digest. If you have the time, read all thirteen.
2. Staff Picks: Favourite Canadian Metal Song – This was a really fun article to both read and contribute to. We were asked to write a quick blurb on our favourite Canadian metal songs for a Canada Day feature. The resulting article was an illumination of what this great country has to offer the world of metal and it makes for a great, celebratory summer playlist to boot!
3. Portal/ Krallace/ Bloody Panda review by Natalie Zed with photography by Adam Wills – Natalie Zed strikes again. I read this review when it was first posted on Hellbound.ca, and at the time I had never heard of any of the bands on this lineup. But the review intrigued me, haunted me, pushed me to explore. From this article I learned that the power of metal is universal, and that how a band makes you feel is just as important as how they sound.
4. 70,000 Tons of Metal recap – Since the cruise’s inaugural departure from shore, I have longed to be on the boat. Sadly, I have never quite found the money in which to make it happen. That’s why I loved reading Adrian Begrand’s excellent recap of exactly what I was missing out on. I’ve always admired his professional honesty as a writer and I trust his opinion. Sidenote: looks like I missed out on some good times!
5. Torche/ Big Business/ Helm’s Alee review by Renee Trotier – This review is one that I was particularly proud of when it went up on the site. Plus, the day was so hot and the music was so good that it was a memorable show, and one that I’m happy to say is stuck to the pages of Hellbound.ca’s history books.