AMG Turns 15: C-Suite Speaks

15 years ago, on May 19, 2009, Angry Metal Guy spoke. For the very first time as AMG. And he had opinions: Very Important Opinions™. The post attracted relatively little attention at the time, but times change and, over the decade and a half since then, AMG Industries has grown into the blog you know today. Now with a staff of around 25 overrating overwriters (and an entirely non-suspicious graveyard for writers on permanent, all-expenses-paid sabbaticals), we have written more than 9,100 posts, comprising over seven million words. Over the site’s lifetime, we’ve had more than 107 million visits and now achieve well over a million hits each and every month. Through this, we’ve built up a fantastic community of readers drawn from every corner of the globe, whom we have (mostly) loved getting to know in the more than 360,000 comments posted on the site.

We have done this under the careful (if sternly authoritarian) stewardship of our eponymous leader Angry Metal Guy and his iron enforcer, Steel Druhm, while adhering to strict editorial policies and principles. We have done this by simply offering honest (and occasionally brutal) takes, and without running a single advert or taking a single cent from anyone. Ever. Mistakes have undoubtedly been made and we may be a laughing stock in the eyes of music intellectuals, socialites and critics everywhere but we are incredibly proud of what AMG Industries represents. In fact, we believe it may be the best metal blog, with the best community of readers, on the internet.

Now join us as the people responsible for making AMG a reality reflect on what the site means to them and why they would willingly work for a blog that pays in the currency of deadlines, abuse, and hobo wine. Welcome to the 15th Birthdaynalia.

Thou Shalt Have No Other Blogs!


Steel Druhm

AMG and me

I stumbled into the world of AMG Inc. by chance, one day in early 2010 and just never got around to leaving. To put a finer point on it, I’ve been slaving in the AMG salt mines so long, even the extremely sabbaticalized Happy Metal Guy thinks my mind is gone. Over time, I’ve evolved from unpaid assistant to the Founding Overlord Himself to become site overseer and brvtal enforcer of deadlines, and morale (still unpaid). The journey has been a wild one, full of moments I’ll always cherish. It’s also introduced me to a collection of loveable oddballs I care about, even though I want to murderize them most of the time (you would too if you had to deal with their outrageous bullshit daily).1

The site and the extensive work that goes into it have provided me with a satisfaction that my real job often lacks, and even helped me find my soulmate. In short, AMG means the world to me and that’s why I’ve given so much of myself to this little blog these last 14 years. Looking back, I regret nothing (except the staff’s penchant for wildly overrating complete garbage) and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Thank you to the writers past and present who helped make the site possible, and thanks to the readers who make it worth the effort, even though most of you are woefully deficient in the good taste department. Here’s to 15 more years of this burning shitshow of a trainwreck!

AMG gave to me

As I’ve been a part of AMG since the early days, it’s nearly impossible to come up with just three albums the site gave me because it’s given me so many. Instead, I’ll enumerate the biggest non-musical gifts AMG has bestowed upon me over the years.2

Madam X // Be My (Pri)Mate / Down with the Steelness – The best thing AMG gave me by far was the chance to meet my best friend, soulmate and life partner, Madam X. She had read some of my early reviews for AMG and by chance, we happened to run into each other on a now-defunct Facebook metal fan page. She reached out to discuss my reviews and get some recommendations, we started chatting, and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have her and, since she lived in South Africa and I in New York, I highly doubt we ever would have found one another were it not for AMG. For this reason alone, I’ll cherish this little blog until my rusty metal heart explodes in my hairy ape chest. Fun fact: I never had a girlfriend who liked metal, and now I have a wife who listens to stuff that’s so extreme and out there, I end up sounding like my parents and saying shit like “This isn’t music, it’s just crazy noise!” Life is funny sometimes.

The Sadistic Pleasure that Comes from Unicorning Kvlt Strangeo Bands // You Axed for It – One cold, gloomy day back in February 2015, I was reviewing a cold, gloomy release by Danish doom/death act Dwell. Their Vermin and Ashes album didn’t especially thrill me, and I was annoyed that they had opted not to include a band photo in the promo materials. Sure, I get it. They wanted to be dark and mysterious. Who doesn’t? I searched online for a suitable image of them but there were none to be found. I became quite vexed. Where the inspiration came from I cannot say but I decided to bestow upon them a bright, mega-cheesy unicorn image, in place of the non-existent band shot. As I contemplated how the vomit of rainbow colors clashed with the murky gray malaise of the album cover, it looked so wrong that it felt so right! And so a blog protocol was born. Send band photos or face extreme unicorn judgment!

The Joys of Initiating Unsuspecting n00bs into the AMG Meatgrinder // Taste the Skull Pit, Poser – When I joined AMG back in its embryonic, protoplasmic stage, there was no probationary period or brutal abuse (aside from assigning me metalcore albums). Things changed as the blog grew and we started bringing on new writers. Soon, a system of impressment, indoctrination and re-education was put in place, and ruthlessly weaponized in service of internet “fame” and “glory.” Each carefully selected wannabe writer, eyes glistening with the ghosts of their past, would serve a tumultuous probationary term, working in complete isolation under the iron thumbs of AMG management. If they somehow survived this experiment in terror, they would be cast into the general population in the Skull Pit, with a besotted cadre of jaded, glassy-eyed veteran staffers. That’s when the real initiation would begin! Imagine Lord of the Flies mixed with The Hunger Games and The Devil’s Rejects, and you get the general idea. Through ritualized humiliation, unreasonable deadlines, and confrontational teaching methods, we slowly transform these sniveling amateurs into barely functional hack reviewers. Believe in the system or be buried by it me.

I wish I had written …

White Wizzard - The Devil's CutWhite Wizzard – The Devil’s Cut Review. Yes, the infamous review that’s hung around our necks like a rotting albatross ever since it saw the light of day in 2013. Had I been tasked with doing the review, I would have given it the rating it truly deserved, which is a big, fat, greasy 3.0. Just like the album that came before, and the one that followed. Now, I have nothing against White Wizzard and I enjoy the retro 80s metal style they play, but let’s face it, nothing they ever did came anywhere near a 5.0 (whether in its “Perfect” or “Iconic” guise). My common sense, real-world review would have spared us all a great deal of embarrassment, as well as saving the effort and bleach it took to scrub the office down after the First Grand Sabbaticaling. If only…

I wish I could do over …

Amon Amarth - Surtur RisingAmon AmarthSurtur Rising Review. As a relatively new reviewer, I got the unexpected chance to weigh in on a new Amon Amarth platter, while I was at the peak of my feverish AA fanboyism. This proved a deadly combination and, before my better angels could caution restraint and moderation, I stamped this thing with a 4.5, and got the album cover tattooed on my dog. With time (and much hobo wine), I realized that I let the moment get the better of me. Despite the presence of a few killer cuts like “War of the Gods” and “Destroyer of the Universe,” Surtur Rising is far from Amon Amarth’s best work. I dutifully submitted a groveling apology in a Contrite Metal Guy piece and tried to move on with my life. 13 years on, this one still stands as my biggest rating misadventure and a source of bitter regret. I blame society (AKA: you, the reader).

I wish more people had read …

Retro-spective Review: Hall AflameGuaranteed Forever. The side project of Metal Church’s Kurdt Vanderhoof, Hall Aflame saw but one release in 1991. But what a party this thing was and still is! Adopting a style somewhere between The Cult and The Four Horsemen, Hall Aflame roar through a collection of wildly catchy, burly rockers, making for a highly replay-able album, with only occasional reminders it’s made by the brain behind Metal Church. Cuts like “Shake the Pain,” Child of Medicine,” and “Money” are absolute monsters, and “Another Heartbeat” is one of my favorite songs of all time across all genres. The hugely ass-kicking vocals by completely unknown (then and now) frontman Ron Lowd alone are worth the effort it will take to track down this rare gem. The world continues to sleep on this killer, as evidenced by my retro-spective review scoring exactly ZERO comments. Don’t let this injustice continue. You need to hear this thing, especially with the recent news that Vanderhoof is releasing the long-awaited (by me at least) follow-up in May. You have my word as a Viking ape that satisfaction is Guaranteed Forever.

AMG is Now a Good Capitalist! In this gap-filler post from 2015, I posited the concept of AMG building a merch empire based upon goods of questionable quality (see our branded Uni-Friend and Sabbatical Sausage Maker pictured above). It got reads but, since I found the concept amusing, I wanted MOAR clicks. I credit this piece with motivating me to finally get a batch of actual AMG t-shirts printed up for the undeserving staff. If you see someone wearing one of these rare treasures and kill them, you take their place in the Skull Pit forevermore. It’s just like The Santa Clause, but much, much worse.


Dr. A.N. Grier

AMG and me

Back in the day, we’d be lucky to get two reviews a day at AMG. This led to me refreshing the site every few hours hoping for a bonus review for the day.3 I was obsessed with the writing and these gems I would never have found otherwise. Before I began writing here, I would do that regularly from 2010-2011. One morning I left the lab of my failing start-up and walked into my office to do some work. The post that morning wasn’t a review. Instead, it was instructions on how to apply to be an AMG writer. Without thinking—because I’d been up for roughly 40 straight hours—I submitted a review of 1349’s lackluster Demonoir. Weeks later, I was a n00b in these decrepit halls. And I’m still here regretting that decision, almost ten years to the day since I submitted my first review. It’s funny, now that I’ve gathered everything for this piece, that I found those early days the fondest of times. Those days when I still loved the writers, the readers, writing about metal, and well… music. Now I’m a broken soul, stalking the halls as a sex-depraved ghost,4 avoiding eye contact with Steel because his ape eyes make my pants tight.

But, in all seriousness, it’s been a wild ride and it’s odd to be one of the lucky few who have contributed to two-thirds of AMG’s existence. I’m proud to have kept the output so rounded, delivering correct scores and takes, and providing X-rated content for the younger generations. So, join me in celebrating AMG’s birthday, as I travel back to those early years when I became part of the family and discovered records that shaped the man known, for today at least, as Dr. All. Nostalgic. Grier.

AMG gave to me …

Mors Principium Est - Dawn of the 5th EraMors Principium Est // Dawn of the 5th Era – As a n00b, Angry Metal Guy‘s review of Mors Principium Est’s Dawn of the 5th Era made me realize two things: I needed this band in my life and never release an album in December. Thankfully, AMG caught it (while everyone else was busting their asses to write their year-end lists) because it’s a stunning achievement. From that point on, I consider myself one of MPE’s biggest fans. That continuation of the At the Gates sound results in incredible performances and riff after massive riff. Not a single song on this album goes stale and I’ve been listening to it regularly for ten fucking years. I can never seem to find a melodeath group whose entire catalog I march through from beginning to end.5 But MPE is one of them. And, because you might be wondering, … And Death Said Live is their best album.

Voices // London – Back in 2014, I ranked an album I never reviewed. Weird, right? Not only was it a great album, but it was one of my favorite reviews from the illustrious Jean-Luc Ricard, who opened his thoughts with: “If you’re anything like me, you’re super awesome.” Still makes me laugh my ass off. Beyond that, Ricard conveyed the absolute nightmare that you experience when you listen to London. Though Akercocke has since reunited, Voices was an incredible substitute, which takes you through a journey that, somehow, Ricard was able to describe; because I sure as hell can’t. I was doing an oil change on my truck the first time I span it. Never have I taken so long to do that work but I constantly found myself staring off into space, literally frightened by the sounds erupting in my ears. The band has never been able to top London, but that’s OK. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of music—it’s permanent and will be there forever when you need it.

Trials // This Ruined World – When I joined AMG and worked side-by-side with Dr. Fisting, we hit it off. I love the guy and consider him a close friend (though he might not feel the same). When I found out that he started a band called Trials, I had to check it out. With two decent albums under his belt, 2014 saw the release of Trials’ best—and final—album, This Ruined World. I was hooked. And to imagine that without knowing about this band or this person, I might never have experienced his work in Bear Mace and the (to me, at least) incredible Black Sites. Though I don’t return to Trials often, mostly because I can’t pull myself away from Fisting‘s current work, I have a special place in my heart for This Ruined World. It introduced me to a fantastic musician and a good friend.

I wish I had written …

OriginOmnipresent Review. When you join the crew, the hope is that you get to write that review for a big band. Those bands you grew up with, that released something at that point in your life, or which have such popularity that every other site overrates them. But, at AMG, you kinda have to earn that. Unless it’s, somehow, a popular dungeon synth group; you can just have that. So, when my most-anticipated album of 2014 dropped, I wanted it. But, there wasn’t a chance in hell I would get my hands on Origin’s Omnipresent. I bet you didn’t know I liked tech death, much less Origin. But, I do. I just know there are other, more qualified writers to cover that material. Thankfully, our wise and wonderful Kronos scored it correctly and wrote a fantastic review that describes it perfectly. Since then, I haven’t been as enamored with their material (mostly because this place has turned me into a hateful prick), but that album holds up and still gets many a spin.

I wish I could do over …

ResumedAlienation Review. I remember when the review for Resumed’s Alienations was published. It was Thanksgiving 2014 and I was already six sheets to the wind when I realized what I was reading: the first double review in AMG history. It wasn’t a record that merited a double but Steel fucked up and double-booked it, thereby unintentionally beginning a trend. Though I couldn’t believe I wasted my time on this thing6 and subjected myself to uncalled-for ridicule, it started one of our most popular segments. Hell, it even led to our Unsigned Band Rodeö pieces. So, for better or worse (and by worse, I mean that year’s burned turkey), we can thank this worthless piece for contributing to AMG lore.

I wish more people had read …

ThineThe Dead City Blueprint [Things You Might Have Missed 2014]. In the process of writing the review for The Deathtrip’s stellar 2014 release, Deep Drone Master, Metal Archives led me to a release we never received. In walks Thine, a progressive rock outfit led by the same person who convinced Aldrahn to come back from retirement to front Deep Drone Master, not to mention drummer Dan Mullins, who returned for My Dying Bride’s newest release. Representing my first ever Things You Might Have Missed piece, I continue to return to this band’s swansong release: it’s beautiful and engaging, and is everything I ever wanted from an album of this caliber. My unpopularity as a n00b, combined with the new year beginning and everyone moving on to January releases, meant no one seemed to care. But I cared. I care so much, in fact, that I’m dropping Thine’s name again, in the hope that Bandcamp credits will be put to good use. You’re welcome.


Dr. Fisting

AMG and me

As a reader of the site’s earliest incarnation, the first thing that stood out to me was that AMG’s writers were clearly educated. Even back then, the reviews were extremely well-written. I don’t mean just in terms of spelling and grammar, but being able to express ideas coherently. If you’ve ever visited any other metal-related sites, you know that these qualities are rare. More importantly, AMG was clearly an independent operation, with no reliance on ad revenue or cozy relationships with record labels. This meant the site was free to post brutally honest reviews, which occasionally resulted in battles against the metal media’s narrative and even the fans themselves. I always enjoyed when some huge band would put out a half-assed album that got rave reviews everywhere else, and then the AMG writeup would take a well-deserved shit on it.

When I started writing for the site a couple of years later, I did my best to uphold those standards. Eventually, as my life and priorities changed, I chose to step back from reviewing to focus on other things. But it was an honor to ride with these guys for as long as I did. I got to review some fantastic records, talk shit about some terrible ones, and make some friends that I am still in contact with to this day.

AMG gave to me …

Pain of Salvation - Road Salt 1 - IvoryPain of Salvation // Road Salt Pt. 1 – I don’t remember if I discovered this record from reading the site or from The Angry One Himself sending it to me (“here, you’ll like this”), but Road Salt Pt. 1 was a complete game-changer. At a time when I was completely bored of “modern metal” and its trappings, I related strongly to PoS’s new direction, in which chug riffs and rapping were replaced by analog ’70s tones and memorable songs. This record was in heavy rotation in the Fisting household, and became a significant influence on my own music.

Satan // Life Sentence – Having missed out on Satan’s original run, I was unaware of their comeback album until the AMG review heaped praise upon it. Lucky for me it did because Life Sentence is full of intelligent lyrics, clever riffs, and memorable hooks. The band has since made three more records, all of which have been varying degrees of excellent. More importantly, discovering Life Sentence sent me on a path to revisit the band’s earlier works, including the highly influential Court in the Act.

 

Anacrusis // Screams and Whispers – Anacrusis is another band I was completely oblivious to during their lifespan, but discovered much later via Grymm‘s excellent retrospective writeup. This album is incredibly ambitious for its time (1993), pushing thrash metal into new and more introspective territory. There are hints of industrial influence, occasional goth-y keyboards, and some very angular guitar work, even by 1990s standards. This is a classic record from metal’s lost years, and more people should hear it.

I wish I had written …

King’s XThree Sides of One Review. Not to suggest that Huck didn’t do a fantastic job on the review, because he absolutely nailed it, but King’s X has held a special place in my cold black heart for many years. I should’ve been there for this. There is no good reason why I didn’t do this review (or the related Angry Metal Primer) other than my own laziness and poor time management. Life gets in the way sometimes. I wish I could do over … I regret nothing.

I wish more people had read …

Various reviews of Voivod and Failure albums. As several readers noticed, I made it a personal mission to preach the virtues of Voivod and Failure. I consider both bands to be absolutely brilliant and worthy of greater attention (particularly Failure, whom I suspect most AMG readers are unfamiliar with). I don’t know how many people read those reviews, but whatever that number is, it needed to be more.

Show 6 footnotes

  1. I mean, he’s actually got a point. It’s a fucking shit show back here. – Carcharodon
  2. I’ll allow this flagrant breach of style guide I painstakingly laid out because you’ll brvtally murderize me if I don’t and because I’m a salty softy at heart. But you should know that these are the only reasons. – Carcharodon
  3. Loser. – Carcharodon
  4. Displaying previously unknown levels of self-awareness too, Doc. – Carcharodon
  5. Hypocrisy is the other one off the top of my head. I know it’s not all melodeath for them. Shut up.
  6. You 3.5ed it, you fucking poser! The other guy thought it was a waste of space. – Carcharodon
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