BIT Chronicles is nothing but a way for me to process what we’ve done so far, and what we’ll do from here. See it as a mission statement, an ode to the past, or self-centered rants. In any case, a lot has been said about Black Ivory Tower over these past years, but I never really took the time to clarify myself on what motivates our writings and what it is we’re trying to achieve. BIT Chronicles will do away with some misunderstandings while also giving you, the reader, an idea of what you might expect from us in the future. It is by no means essential reading, but it might serve you some food for thought.
The magazine ends with the words “truth, justice, kindness and love” for a reason, you know.
Writers are abundant. You could even say there are just too damn many of them. Because for every capable writer in this already oversaturated market, there are at least 10 who fling worthless shit into the world, unhindered by a lack of skills or knowledge. This makes writing one of the least marketable skills. And it’s not like being exceptionally good necessarily means you will make it big. With the popularity of websites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy, you rather get the idea that, like in a well, the biggest shit floats to the top.
Another effect of writers being so numerous is that your writing style will at one point inevitably be compared to that of others. The intention of such comparisons can vary from compliments to accusations of plagiarism. In some cases, though, it can be difficult to decide whether to take a comparison to a certain author as a compliment or an insult.
Though I would by no means consider myself a prolific writer, it appears that I have produced a sufficient amount of material to inspire multiple individuals to compare my work to that of Maddox on different occasions. Maddox is famous for his Best Page in the Universe, and subsequent books, which are now commonly categorised as ‘fratire‘. He has a razorsharp pen and I have been following his work since at least the year 2000, so being compared to him should normally be the biggest compliment a fairly insignificant music reviewer such as myself could be blessed with.
Despite my endless appreciation for Maddox’s work, being compared to him is a double-edged sword. Not because of Maddox himself, but because of the people who are normally compared to him. Being one of the first successful internet satirists, Maddox helped popularise the ever-fashionable concept of being pissed off at stuff and ranting about it over the internet. He inspired, both directly and indirectly, countless imitators, disciples and adepts who took the cynical outlook of The Best Page in the Universe and applied it to more specific topics such as video games, music genres and films.
As with many things, however, there is nothing quite like the original. While the wannabes largely failed to escape the mould of ‘being angry for comedy’s sake’, Maddox quickly turned out to have more potential than just being a furious, cynical blogger avant-la-lettre. Over the years, he transformed into a down-to-earth cultural critic of sorts, pointing out simple flaws in complex issues and tackling more serious topics than just hating old people. The modern Maddox makes valuable contributions to otherwise silly debates and calls out media outlets on their bullshit. He’s still complaining, he’s still angry, and he still employs cynicism and profanity. But they are means to an end.
The reason why being compared to Maddox might not be such a compliment is because pretty much everyone who has a similar approach gets stuck in the perpetual exasperation routine. It is exactly this attitude that inspires the least exciting type of writing you can encounter on the internet. In the context of music, such endeavours manifest themselves in the form of ‘angry metal dudes’ and people on websites with ironic titles who have found a market in mocking metalcore and posting Varg Vikernes memes like a bunch of 14-year-olds. All this does is directing disproportional amounts of attention to the negative. Even in the few instances such publications are positive about a band, they limit themselves to the kind of ironic appreciation that has made marketing ploys such as Babymetal so deplorably successful.
Much of the presence of internet cynics can be traced back to it being an easy and banal form of entertainment to just run shit into the ground. Such wailing is no more than literary hedonism, a Happy Meal for internet scribes, and I would hope that I have prevented Black Ivory Tower from walking into that trap. While I certainly think some of the more serious metal publications out there could use a sense of humour, people who try to be funny by always acting pissed off get boring quick. The same applies to internet personae who never manage to get past their suburban angst and actually start offering some solutions.
You are free to judge the success of this webzine’s approach by yourself, but I always aim to be constructive. Even on those occasions where I do take pleasure in throwing a few punches, such diversions ultimately serve to point out a problem that I would prefer being solved. It is ridicule with a purpose; it is hate brought forth by love. If I can eventually come close to Maddox’s success in doing that, I’ll die a happy man. But if I just come across as a whiney bitch, let me close down this site lest I am forced to rename it ‘Furious Metal Reviewz’.
“A stone near the road, crystal water,
Cosmos, cold and pitch-black,
The boundless secret Universe, unlimited
Main page image via EnglishRussia.