Monday, August 1, 2016

interview: The Sentinel metal music zine (Seattle)

The Sentinel is a paper-only metal music zine from the state of Washington, U.S. Thanks to H.S. from The Sentinel for answering these questions!
Greetings from Metal Bulletin! Thanks for sending in copies of The Sentinel. When did you start your zine and what type(s) of metal do you cover? In your opinion, what is the metal music that is appropriate for your zine and why?
Hail, Metal Bulletin! Glad you enjoyed the copies and thanks for your interest and support of The Sentinel. The zine began in the summer of 2014 I believe, at the time I was just getting into music journalism and the metal scene in Seattle, and wanted to create a printed form of promotion for underground bands in the area. We formed with the intention of focusing only on Seattle bands, but in time that focus changed to the entire Cascadian region. Not only is this area rife with talent, but the natural landscape possesses a certain particular energy that manifests itself within the music produced here. I was actually inspired by another fantastic local zine, the SEATTLE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE (check it out if you have not!), and wanted to create my own version that focused on darker and more extreme music.
In terms of what kinds of metal are most appropriate for us, we have stayed true to our original intentions and only interviewed Pacific Northwest bands, from Washington, Oregon, or British Columbia. Genre does not matter much to me, we seek to promote projects from across the punk and metal spectrum, though in effort to stay underground we keep our distance from more commercial forms of music, and anything ending in -core.
Your zine is definitely in the tradition of the old school. It is a printed zine and you are not much online. What are your reasons for avoiding the internet? Is it the gossipy nature of things like Facebook and everyone giving a like to everything and everyone telling each other: “You’re awesome!”?
Haha! It's true that Facebook and similar things do not ultimately bear much significance, and perhaps hold too much clout in our society. I much prefer to create a physical product, one that can be kept, revisited, held in one's hands. On top of this, I simply enjoy putting together a work with ink on paper much more than putting together one on a screen. It's a matter of personal preference, really. Print zines are few and far between today, and I wish to maintain the old ways with my work as much as possible. We have a pretty poorly-maintained website to put some simple information out there, but the Sentinel does not, and will not exist absent printed product.
Are you in Seattle? Do you go to shows in Seattle? What are some bands that you personally like in that city at the moment? What is your opinion in general about metal in Seattle in 2016?
Our writers come from all over really, but I myself live in Seattle currently and go to shows as frequently as my schedule allows. There are too many bands to name, but the ones in the zine are a great starting place, haha! Seattle has and always will have a strong metal scene, but at least in 2016 there are many who attempt to censor content and "black-list" certain artists they find undesirable... Luckily, there are plenty who remain true to the underground despite gossip and misinformed "popular" opinion on the internet, but for every one of these wolves there is a sheep following the bidding of a scene control-freak, and often venues and promoters are too timid to stand against the keyboard warriors and witch-hunters. Those who live in Seattle and pay attention to the Facebook events for local shows will know what I am talking about. NOTHING is more negative for art than censorship, especially the misplaced and misinformed variety. Fascist systems must be crushed in all their forms, even those built by the supposed anti-fascists who have, to quote Nietzsche, fought monsters until they have become monsters themselves.
It is a sad state of things when those who speak out against the unfair status quo are shunned for doing so. If you don't like a band, don't support them, plain and simple. If you take your anger farther and attempt to crush someone's creative endeavors over something as insignificant as a political or personal disagreement, and further, if you spread unfounded gossip about someone as a result, you have NO PLACE in the underground.
Do you cover in the zine only bands that you like or do you cover bands that you do not like?
We formed with the intention of bringing people into the scene, showcasing different styles so as to pique different interests. I, of course, like including bands that I personally enjoy, but I see it as more important to promote a wide variety of styles and subgenres, regardless of whether or not they are really my cup of tea.
How did you start with metal music? Do you remember what albums or bands impressed you early on? Is it bands from the 90s like Pantera or Sepultura? Is it older bands like Kiss, Priest, Maiden and Van Halen and those older classic bands?
I think myself and most of my generation may have missed the boat, for better or for worse, on classic metal bands. When I was young I was deeply interested in alternative rock and nu-metal type bands like DISTURBED and GREEN DAY. Perhaps not the most "cult" of selections, but one has to start somewhere, haha! I always loved BLACK SABBATH as well and from that starting place I began to listen to more extreme bands like ARCH ENEMY, ARSIS, AMON AMARTH, and CHILDREN OF BODOM. I cycled through death metal, industrial, metalcore, thrash, doom, and prog, endlessly searching for something darker and heavier than what I knew of, and in underground black metal I found a bleakness and dark energy that I'd never before experienced. When I saw that bands were playing all these styles locally I started my own zine, began to explore the local community, and discovered how deep the underground truly was and I've kept digging deeper since then.
At the moment, sludge, post-metal, stoner and other forms of slow music passing off as “metal” are popular and there seem to be new bands every week. What is your opinion about this trend?
I think a great deal of bands do the stoner/psych/post-rock, whatever, thing very well, but it's not something I can personally get into very often. Metal to me, and punk for that matter, is more than just a distorted guitar and I think that fact is one that is too frequently forgotten.
What are some of the best albums that you have heard in the last year and why? Have you written about them in your zine?
I have trouble keeping up to date with current albums, but here are a few from recent years I have been enjoying:
SLUTVOMIT - Swarming Darkness
INFERNUS - Grinding Christian Flesh
HERMITS - Lo-Fi / Wi-Fi Demo
Some of these bands are no longer active, but while those of them that are have not yet been included, they would most certainly be welcome, haha!
Do you have advertisers in your zine? Has that been difficult to find? Are you breaking even on your zine? Where do you get your zine printed? How often do you a new issue out?
We have actually been blessed with a fair amount of advertising interest from the start, and I am infinitely in debt to those individuals who choose to assist us in that way. It's worth thanking our few donors as well, I am extremely humbled by all contributions people have given us! If they are reading this, THANK YOU, you have made a huge impact upon me and upon this zine! Despite the help, I do not often break even on the releases, but this is not all that important to me, putting out a physical product is reward enough. We release new issues basically as soon as we can finish them, the goal was to keep releases quarterly, but this has proven difficult.
How can people get copies of your zine? Can you give us the information to get your zine?
Absolutely. Current issues can be found in record stores around Cascadia, or can be acquired via snail mail. There is supposed to be a webstore, but it is currently on the fritz - so your best bet is to get in touch with me at and I will be more than happy to send you a package. We charge for back issues and to cover shipping, but it's not much and all the packages come with free extras.
Is there anything else that you would like to mention that I have not asked about?
I would like to thank again all those who have interviewed, answered, advertised, donated funds, donated time, helped to distribute, edited, contributed art, and helped out to make The Sentinel what it is in any other way. I am forever grateful.

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