The New Noise: An Oral History of Decibel Magazine (Readers)

By Steven Ward

Do you hear from readers who are not necessarily hardcore extreme metal fans? I'm curious because I think Decibel is probably the best American music magazine out there right now. I've never heard of more than half of the bands mentioned in Decibel every month. But I love reading about these bands and discovering them. I came to Decibel, for instance, because I heard good things about it and I'm a metal fan. The most extreme things I liked before reading Decibel was maybe some Napalm Death, Opeth, and Celtic Frost.

Albert Mudrian: Yeah, we get a fair number of, "You’re the only metal magazine I read" or "I don't really like metal, but I love reading Decibel" kinds of comments, which is awesome. At times, I feel like we’ve unwittingly crossed over into the mainstream, getting props from the New York Times, LA Weekly, and the Village Voice. And I know for a fact that Steve Albini likes us, which makes me afraid to even think about sucking. Our goal is to keep producing a magazine that our core audience absolutely loves, but we’re also committed to simply making a great magazine and not just a magazine that’s great for a metal magazine.

Nick Terry: I would say it's a little bit the other way around. Maybe Decibel, like Terrorizer, exposes hardcore metal fans to music beyond the underground. On the other hand, I'm sure becasue of the boom in extreme metal thanks to "Headbangers Ball," there are casual readers who discover the mag and are exposed to more underground music.

Anthony Bartkewicz: On the Decibel forum, there seems to be a pretty even mix of people who are into the more accessible side of extreme metal and people who would love it if we covered nothing but black metal, grindcore, and the most extreme doom metal. I would hope that Decibel readers who are into some of the bigger and more accessible bands would explore a little deeper, and I think the magazine can be a great guide for them. For the people who are into more extreme bands, they're in there, and even when we cover some bands that I'm not personally a fan of, I think the writing is good enough that I'll end up reading everything. Andrew Parks, in particular, has a knack for making bands I totally don't care about seem interesting.

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