Feb 17, 2017

Digging Up the Corpse of Black Market Magazine

Skulls, voodoo, punk rock, with no condom: we dig up the corpse of Black Market magazine

By Robert Dean

Back in the pre-internet age, the underground music scene was ran from zines. Yes, there are still zines, but they’re not as plentiful as they were a long time ago, Mr. Know It All, Comment on Everything Hipster.

Zines were how you discovered new bands, heard about social causes, or found out weird, subversive art. Most were handcrafted, collectives of multiculturalism, or just filled with a lot of weird shit. Some enterprising folks with a vision put a lot of effort and idealism into crafting zine culture and just about all underground scenes benefitted. Because no one in bands like The Cramps or KMFDM were getting on MTV aside from the occasional bone from Headbangers Ball or 120 Minutes, indie labels or even in some cases, the majors, relied on the local music programs, or zines to help spread the gospel of new bands.

As a young buck, I worshiped the record store. I saved up all of my money to continually buy cd’s, band shirts, music magazines, and zines. I gobbled up Maximum Rocknroll, scoured the racks for NME, and even had subscriptions to Circus and Metal Edge. But, there was zine I’d read and was after it like the Holy Grail: Black Market Magazine.

Black Market existed from mid-1980’s and up until 1995, and in those years, Black Market offered the world that was fucking mind blowing to a 14-year-old kid with a Nirvana shirt on, and with Misfits and Sepultura stickers on his skateboard.  The art was subversive. It took risks, both societal and cultural: they challenged what was allowed, even in the underground community. Everything from race, to religion, and gay rights were all on display long before they became the everyday topics in our age. The magazine was just as much about the art as it was about the music. The two mediums together gave Black Market magazine a potent cocktail for all of us acolytes to swallow. We got style, attitude, a lot of knowledge out of these pages.

They allowed artists a platform for dark art and darker opinions. Nothing in the realm of Black Market was taboo.

 The music, though – that was what was mind-blowing. The Rollins Band, Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains – every cool band from the era found its name plastered between the covers of Black Market. What’s interesting seeing the magazines these years later, Black Market was not only a pioneer in their artistic nuance, but they did interviews before the modern culture molded certain figures to a particular light. The journalism, the questions were sharp, and in a way, the style precluded the VICE styled music journalism we see today with Noisey.

The magazine also featured icons of culture like Famous Monsters’ Forrest Ackerman, as well as members of the Manson family. The interviews are candid, but also truthful in that they’re biting, and honest.

Being out of print for so long, re-reading the issues doesn’t feel dated. If anything, the magazines hold up now better than ever. They’re time capsules into an era when dying your hair meant you were a freak, and visible tattoos meant you were a scumbag.  Bands like Type O Negative or Samhain were frightening, and indeed a big, detailed picture about priests engaged in questionable acts as a social statement weren’t exactly en vogue. You had to embrace and earn culture like this. Black Market shoveled all of the best things about goth, industrial, punk, hardcore, and metal into one oozing corpse and made us all love it in return.


  1. Beautifully stated. Couldn't have said it better.



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