i decided i’m going to blog about back issues of HM Magazine for awhile. It’ll give me a good reason to blog every single day, which is what I’d like to do (and what I miss about that old habit, which got away from me).

First, I must ramble and add any odd things that come my way, like this statement from Ozzy and Tony Iommi:

<b>Black Sabbath statement</b>:
Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi of the legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath have amicably resolved their problems over the ownership of the Black Sabbath name and court proceedings in New York have been discontinued. Both parties are glad to put this behind them and to cooperate together for the future and would like it  to be known that the issue was never personal, it was always business.

I’d also like to comment that I repented. I changed my mind. Instead of dismissing this new worship album by John Mark McMillan (The Medicine), I am having it reviewed for this next issue. Why the change of mind? I actually played the thing this morning. Hot dog! It’s swell stuff. Like Rob Shameless replied when I told him Bianca here said it was “too ccm-y,” it’s pretty true: “What?! Are you kidding me!? It’s like the Bruce Springsteen of worship…”

Bianca didn’t say it was too ccm-y. She said it was like David Crowder, which is kind of the standard we use on whether or not to review worship albums. It’s not an exact science, but so many worship albums these days are super mellow, super slick, super formulated. If they come from left field and show super creativity then we take a much more positive approach to the idea.

This dude does have the grit and gut-level honesty of the Boss. I’m digging it. It’s on Integrity Music’s label.

I’ve been fighting a little bit lately. Not physically, though there is a threat towards me for calling a guy a dog. I have to admit I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit, but it was hard to determine if this was a “be careful” nudge or a “back off” sort of nudge. I took caution and went ahead. Wow, the anger is flying. I decided to kind of be like Paul and not hold back when I felt like someone was mishandling the truth and causing dissension among believers. He did it publically (in the Bible) and my accuser (of supporting the evil U2 and the abortion industry and “Planned Parenthood” *** by being supportive of U2’s art, etc). This could turn out bad, but who knows? I’m praying for the guy, too. Maybe if it does blow up I’ll look back on that nudge as a “Don’t do it, Doug!” kind of message.

*** I used a triple asterik to make note of one of only two legitimately good (over the test of time) songs that my little old punk band recorded – the song “Planned Parenthood.” The chorus was “Planned Parenthood, you ain’t no good.” I believe it’s playing over at the band’s myspace: myspace.com/lustcontrol (aww…I checked and it’s not there. You can certainly preview the tune on itunes, though.) It’s really one of our best tunes, along with “Mad at the Girls.”

Okay, on to the first issue of HM Magazine – Issue #55
What? The first issue of HM? Well, yeah, after the name change from Heaven’s Metal to HM. When looking back, I’m quite pleased at the progression we made and the steps we took to get there. It might have seemed well calculated, but I’ll admit it just happened.

With the July/August 1994 Issue #48, we started using the subtitle “YOUR HARD MUSIC AUTHORITY” on top of the big bar underneath the Heaven’s Metal logo. This was because “hard music” was being thrown around as a tag for metal + punk + alternative. The hard music marketing company, Concrete Marketing, coined the term and had a campaign of sorts to spread the label. So, we started using it as a sub-title, since we were covering more industrial metal (like Circle of Dust, Klank, Under Midnight, Mortal, etc) as well as alt and funk metal (DigHayZoose, Hot Pink Turtle, Precious Death) and raprock (XL & DBD). So, by the time we made the switch to the acronym “HM,” people had some options as to how to interpret the name.

54 Cover

Issue 54 was our 10-year anniversary issue. It featured a fold-out sleeve with each magazine cover image from issue #1 all the way to issue #53. It was the last official issue of Heaven’s Metal Magazine. For the next two issues (#55 and #56), which closed out the year 1995, we included a tiny little super-script tag above the new HM oval-shaped logo. In small block letters it said “HEAVEN’S METAL,” so it helped make the transition for the next two issues for people that wondered what HM was. They were being led to remember that it was Heaven’s Metal.

Issue #55 was the first issue where we did something like a “flip-cover.” Unlike the way we’ve done it the past few years, this flipping was all done on one side. There was the right-side-up version that featured Imagine This (a funk-based power pop rock band from the Houston, TX area) and the upside-down version featured a young, new pop-punk band called MxPx. I’m glad we put them on the cover. We now know which band long outlived the other.


So, this issue featured some older and newer bands:
Whitecross (older)
Crashdog (slightly older)
Crux (new)
John Elefante (real older)
Bloodshed (new)
Decision D (slightly older)
a Cornerstone ’95 festival review
a special section on Christian colleges
a Sign of the Times (the new band by Jeff Scheetz)
Morbid Angel Says (this was with a satanist sort of dude, Trey Azagthoth, who argued hard with me that chaos existed before order and thus Satan was greater than Jehovah God.

There is a full-page color ad upfront advertising the Forefront Records release, One Way: The Songs of Larry Norman. That disc had some really good covers on it.

The Letters to Ed section was two pages’ worth. We got called on the carpet for the previous issue’s Epiphone Guitar ad, which showed a girl “…with a nice butt and long legs, therefore selling sex…” as opposed to the guitar.

My little “note from the editor” this issue was pretty interesting. Check this out:

Greetings! Welcome to the new look of hm magazine! Everything changes, but some things stay the same. Here at hm magazine, our name has changed, but our commitment to the heaviest and hardest music around hasn’t changed one bit. Granted, the term “heavy metal” isn’t thrown around as much as it used to be (even though a trip to the local record chain still shows a metal section), but heavy and hard music show no signs of slowing down. We are excited here at hm, because we’re hearing so much high quality music being made by Christian artists today. Whether it’s “Spirit-filled hardcore” from Unashamed, independent death metal from Nonpoint Factor, trance rock from Starflyer 59, or heavy metal from Barren Cross, you’ll find it here in the pages of hm. And the “pages of hm” will, Lord willing, also be electronic one day (on the internet), as we progress in technology as well. Our commitment to you is to provide the best possible coverage of Christian hard music. If we slack off in that commitment, you’ll read about it right here on these two pages. We listen to you! Let us know how you like our changes.
Grace and Peace,
Doug Van Pelt

It’s funny how we used the lower-case spelling of “hm” everywhere in those days, to go along with our logo.

The opening spread in our Hard News section dealt with one of our first, rare, breaking news stories. The members of Luxury and Piltdown Man were in a vicious, flipping car wreck on the way home from the Cornerstone Festival right when we were in deadline for that issue. There was news on Guardian signing to Myrrh, the Jesus Freaks, GROMS and a long-haired promo shot of Rob Rock in his new band, Impellitteri. The new guard hated those old long-haired metalheads … and they let us know about it with their mockery. The next spread had Jeff Scheetz and his new band, with a full page ad of Michael Sweet and his second solo album, Real. Lots of hair.

But then there was a spread on MxPx. This was one of the first instances of utilizing a shortage of quotes and spreading the content around to make use of the two-page spread. We printed the lyrics to “Teenage Politics” and “Punk Rawk Show” to just fill up space, really. Our Assistant Editor (who later was promoted to “Managing Editor”), Brian McGovern got pretty much zilch from the young members of MxPx at one of their shows. Aesthetically, it kinda worked, though. It’s funny that the headline was “mxpx are huge!” and we actually used a variation on that headline with our last major MxPx feature a year or two ago – “MxPx are Huge in Japan.”

There was the Imagine This feature. They used a dreamy pop ’70s rock vibe on their Love album. The Whitecross article had the headline: “Never to be Called a Dinosaur,” which was written by a very good writer named David Mutillo. David Jenison, one of our best writers (and the guy who interviewed Bad Religion and helped me score an excellent pre-explosion Korn interview around this time), did a piece on Crux. Tooth & Nail took out a huge two-page black & white spread ad for Crux and their album, Failure To Yield.

There was a nice big feature on Crashdog: “New Vocalist … No Big Deal!” which was written by … Charlotta Van Pelt!?! I forgot she did this interview. There was a nice feature on Bloodshed by Chris Callaway, who interned for us sometime around that era. It might’ve been this issue he worked on. Tooth & Nail took out another ad – this one for Bloodshed‘s EP. At the bottom it said “$9.99CD/$7.99 Tape.” That brings back memories, huh?

Decision D talked about pain in their feature. As I mentioned earlier, the “What Morbid Angel Says” feature was kind of intense. One of the blow-up quotes from that was: “I don’t need God. I don’t need Jesus. For me to accept Jesus, that means I’m a puppet. And I’m not a puppet. I don’t need a shepherd.” We argued about the authorship of the Bible. This was a good one. If and when I get to publish “Volume 2” of the Rock Stars on God series (I have been released from my book deal with Relevant Books), I plan on including some great interviews like this (and Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Type O Negative, Ronnie James Dio and Prong).*

* If you know anyone that would like to discuss “self-publishing” this title, I’m open to that conversation. I’ve got a novel and a children’s book “in the can” that I’m trying to get published by a major book publisher, but that’s a challenging task.

The Cornerstone Festival recap spanned 5 pages and talked about The Crucified‘s last show, Phil Keaggy, Steve Taylor, Resurrection Band unplugged, Whitecross, Jerusalem, Atomic Opera, Bare Bones, Steven Patrick (ex-Holy Soldier singer, who arrived at Cstone in a limo). There was concert review coverage of Texas Rockfest, too, which featured female shredder Janna Fishback from Slamcat.

A full-page b&w ad from Rugged Records promoted new albums from Ken Tamplin, Reflescent Tide, Paul Falzone and the ill-fated (and under-appreciated) Drop album by Bride. The special advertising section on Christian Colleges features Greenville, Cedarville, Toccoa Falls and John Brown University.

The centerfold poster included a photo of the band Sign of the Times, which I took on a boat dock at Texas Rockfest, warping the perspective of the hm logo and superimposing the band’s streetsign logo. Kind of a fuzzy, low res scan, too. Gotta learn to clean that flatbed scanner, off, Doug!

Vantage gave us a nice vintage-looking Mustang-style electric guitar to giveaway, which feature a photo of our beloved mailman in the contest entry/ad. There was a nice Truth ad with a striking blonde (conservatively dressed in a long-sleeved flannel shirt and a Truth cap). They were instrumental in advertising with us and sometimes swapping out ad space for t-shirt/merch printing and designs for us. That was a good partnership.

An independent go-getter named Glenn Rowlands had a full-page b&w ad for his small label, Floppy Fish Records, which specialized in indie rock and hard rock.

One thing I hate about the layout in this issue is the tab measure on new paragraphs. If I would have learned how to customize the indent tabs to be a quarter-inch instead of the too-wide half-inch, the magazine would’ve looked and read a lot cleaner.

There was album reviews of the Buzz album by Guardian, Darrell Mansfield & Co, Starflyer’s Gold album, The Rex Carroll Sessions, (which is funny, cuz we’re reviewing a new solo album by him this next issue) and Chapter One by M Pire, which was Joshua Perhaiah’s new band, post losing Robin Kyle as his frontman (for the band Jaguar). There were reviews for Black Cherry Soda, Blenderhead’s Muchacho Vivo album and Begging at the Temple Gate Called Beautiful by Mike Stand’s band, Clash of Symbols. The Extra-Ordinary album by Johnny Q. Public was reviewed positively as well. The T&N comp, Helpless Amongst Friends, Vol. 2 was reviewed, as was Super Deluxe by Morella’s Forest (which almost made it on our Top 100 list, by the way). The Into The Unknown album by Rose was reviewed, as was the self-titled debut of a band called Third Day on the Gray Dot record label. The 3-song demo by Stavesacre was reviewed here, as was Nonpoint Factor (who later went on to become the band Nonpoint, changed a few members and has less of a connection to this Christian rock “scene” than before).

Tooth & Nail took out another huge b&w 2-page spread ad for Unashamed, which used a killer live shot of the singer surfing and singing atop the crowd indoors at the barn at Cornerstone. Great photography was one of the trademarks for T&N back in those days (which continues today). There were lots more ads, including some indie bands, labels and the Christian hip hop label, Grapetree Records. There was another couple of full-page b&w ads by Tooth & Nail – one for Overcome and one for Rob Walker‘s solo album (post Wish For Eden). There was also a color “gang” ad on the inside back cover for Plankeye, MxPx, Blenderhead, Starflyer 59, Morellas’ Forest and a sampler CD. They had a thriving mail-order business going for the label at the time.

We had a Radio & Sales Chart in the back, along with some HM “house” ads for our merch and the 1993 Hard Music Compilation we did. There was some book reviews by Michael Bloodgood, Dale Thompson and Tim Bushong. One of the books was the first big Christian medical/thriller novel (Double Helix) by Sigmund Brouwer (whose Flight of Shadows book we’re reviewing in our next issue). Jeff Scheetz had a Guitar tab column called “Licks & Tricks.”

There was a color ad for the Resurrection Band and Whitecross (RAW) Tour, with dates in ’95 and ’96. Pastor Bob and Kemper Crabb both had columns. Kemper was in a rare mode for this issue, as it wasn’t part of the Sons of Issachar series, but instead a recap about the influence of symbols.

The back page had a photo I took of a motorcycle cop and talked about the law.

Thus concludes our look back to HM Magazine circa September/October of 1995.