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SNAKEPIT # 16
SNAKEPIT # 16
(112 pages, A4, printed, in English)

Founded may years ago by none other than VFTD's Frank Stöver, SNAKEPIT MAGAZINE is still flourishing in 2008 thanks to Laurent Ramadier. With this massive undertaking, Laurent has truly proven himself to be a Metal historian. With Issue # 16, Laurent has bestowed upon us yet another volume in this encyclopedic series. Few in the underground can rival the immense depth of Metal knowledge that he possesses. Only through true passion for and a ceaseless devotion to the craft of Metal can one ever attain the status that Laurent occupies. Most of us will never come close (honestly, I am generally only familiar with about 2/3 of the bands Laurent selects to be featured in SNAKEPIT). This magazine, compiled and assembled by Laurent and printed and distributed by NWN! Productions, is easily one of the most comprehensive zines devoted to underground Metal in existence. More particularly, SNAKEPIT is predominantly dedicated to Heavy Metal, Thrash, and Death Metal from the 1980s and early 1990s; however, there are features on newer bands that embody those same traditions. In each interview, Laurent not draws out surface level information for those unfamiliar with the band, but also dwells under the surface to uncover obscure facts to appease the fanatics. His attention to detail with the bands he interviews is incomparable and in his interviews he frequently calls up aspects of the band's history that even they, themselves, had long forgotten or overlooked. Obvious highlights of this 112 page issue include interviews (which I am told are usually done over the phone or in person rather than by email) with legendary Doom masters, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, obscure and evil NWOBHM band, HELL, and Canadian Thrash demons, INFERNÄL MÄJESTY - all of which are long and in-depth interviews such as you will find in no other zine. As if those interviews weren't enough to fill a killer table of contents, other classic bands such as AGGRESSION, CYNIC, MASTER, RAZOR and AGENT STEEL are also featured in the pages of this issue. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the focus on many bands that were so short-lived as to have barely existed (and which most of us have probably never heard). Despite the limited scope of the history of these bands, Laurent finds a way to draw the reader into their story and place the band in the context of the time and place they once occupied. It becomes clear when reading SNAKEPIT, just how many exceptional bands from this time period were simply lost due to the inability to keep their band together or record label greed or any other number of contributing factors. Not every band could get signed and put out records and as a result, many demos, now regarded as classics, were relegated to the garbage bin (this is in stark contrast to today's scene in which there are very nearly as many labels as there are bands and the most mediocre of releases get heralded as brilliant). Take, for instance, Laurent's interview with the U.S. Speed Metal outfit, VERMIN. In the introduction to the interview, Laurent articulates how his long time effort to track down this band was initiated when he read their name in the thanks list on "Haunting The Chapel." The band released only one demo before its untimely demise (though members of VERMIN later played in L.S.N.). Laurent says that, upon learning of the band's existence, he spent 22 years trying to track them down so he could discuss with them their legacy. Interviews and tales of Heavy Metal hunting such as this are the substance of which SNAKEPIT is composed and the reason why it never becomes dull or tiresome. The only complaint I could even consider leveling at Laurent is his willingness to supportively indulge some older bands in their more recent endeavors. But perhaps even this trait is a testament to his intense devotion to this music. Following the collection of comprehensive interviews is 11 pages of reviews. It is also worth mentioning that accompanying all future issues of SNAKEPIT will be an exclusive 7" EP pressed by NWN! Associated with this issue of SNAKEPIT is an excellent EP called "Strange Cuts" by Canadian Heavy Metal band, DEATH DEALER. Anyone familiar with the more widely known DEAF DEALER knows what to expect as this was the name they adopted before releasing their first album. These two early tracks of aggressive, proto Thrash Heavy Metal from 1984 are themselves worth the price of this issue of SNAKEPIT even if you aren't interested in the magazine itself. In fact, if you don't like reading you should probably avoid SNAKEPIT. The truth is that SNAKEPIT does not offer all that much visually. While there is certainly an abundance of photos, they are often small and placed amongst an ocean of text. Certainly, the vast majority of zines in existence today offer little or nothing in the way of information; this is absolutely not true in the case of SNAKEPIT, however. Opening an issue of SNAKEPIT may be initially intimidating, but one first has to realize the true value of this resource before it can be fully appreciated. Indeed, I have not yet read an entire issue from cover-to-cover. Instead, I find myself continually going back to the issues I have as a source of reference or to uncover new music I have yet to discover. These are magazines that you retain and return to repeatedly as your knowledge of this music grows. Hopefully someday maybe 10 or 15 years in the future, I will pick up this issue # 16 and realize that I am already familiar with all of the bands and history that is covered within its pages. Of course, by that time, Laurent will probably have descended into even more obscure regions to excavate still more metal information to which I am oblivious, but which I will attempt to absorb. www.truemetal.org/snakepit, www.nwnprod.com

Jason Campbell

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