As far as metal subculture goes, fanzines are a taste that many have yet to acquire. Once a vital source of information, these underground amateur magazines have since turned into a niche. Still, there are a lot of vital publications out there that let you look at your favorite music in new, unique ways. However, it may be difficult to understand their value when you don’t know what’s on offer. So, to help you find your way in this underground librarinth, I’d like to take this week’s #tbt to introduce you to Edition #6 of Witchcraft magazine.
Witchcraft is a publication by Stefan Loens from Germany. So far, it has appeared sporadically across a period spanning well over two decades. This sixth edition appeared in 2013 and is the ideal introduction to metal fanzines for several reasons. First and foremost, it contains a comprehensive list of (almost) all the other fanzines out there, with basic information on what country each publication is from, how many issues there have been, whether it is still active and where to order. Obviously, with Witchcraft #6 itself being two years old already, this list is no longer complete and up-to-date. But given that fanzines usually limit themselves to one issue per year, this compendium will still give you a good overview of the rags that are out there.
Apart from its encyclopedic qualities, Witchcraft also exemplifies how “amateur” design can easily rival the slick look of professional publications these days. The whole magazine has a clean look that makes for excellent eye candy while not marring the reading experience. And, unlike in professional print zines, the pages of Witchcraft are not soiled by obnoxious adverts that take you out of your flow every other page. The disclaimer on this edition’s first page reassures us that this won’t be the case with subsequent issues: “No stinkin’ copyrights, no advertising. No sponsoring either.” This zine ain’t for sale.
In addition to the zine compendium and a catalogue of all Nuclear War Now! releases up until the date of publication, most of the remaining space is taken up by interviews. With guests such as Hellbringer and Hatespawn, you might not get the big names, but in underground zines, it’s the quality of the questions that counts more than the fame of the interviewees. Unfortunately, the interviews in Witchcraft stick to a basic method of inquisition, with most questions pertaining to biographical info and updates.
You’ll have to dig into some other publications to see this, but obscure print magazines can provide you with some of the best reviews and interviews out there — and Witchcraft #6 puts you in pole position to seek out those gems that cater exactly to your needs. Furthermore, its design is a spectacle in and of itself, and should the seventh issue of Witchcraft offer an updated zine compendium alongside more profound interviews, it’ll be unbeatable.
Click here to download Loens’s distro list (PDF), which includes Witchcraft #6, as well as many other magazines. And stay tuned for more zine recommendations in my upcoming monthly column!