In less than four years Albert Mudrian has taken the unseemly subgenre of heavy metal and given it a place to flourish in the pages of his magazine Decibel, a nationally distributed monthly headquartered here in Philly. Decibel prides itself on exposing the public to metal subgenres like black metal, grindcore and death metal.
Mudrian grew up in Wilkes-Barre. His high school experience was typical of most heavy-metal-obsessed teenagers. "You knew every kid in your school who liked this music, and everyone else thought you were fucking insane," Mudrian says. "They couldn't grasp why you would want to listen to this music."
"If there was a band that was like a gateway band for me, that was Sepultura," remembers Mudrian, sitting in the dimly lit Fergie's Pub munching a veggie burger and sipping a pint of Lager. "At that time they were so fucking heavy. From there I got into Obituary and Carcass and Napalm Death and other weird bands like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost."
After attending Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, Mudrian took a job at a local music chain called the Gallery of Sound, regularly flipping through the store's in-house publication Gallery of Sound Gazette.
It pissed him off.
"They would [give a negative review] to a Carcass or My Dying Bride record, and I would get really bent out of shape by it because I was super into this metal stuff and really passionate about it."
He complained, and was given the opportunity to write his own reviews. They struck a chord with readers and the chain owner. He was introduced to the magazine's publisher and editor in chief Alex Mulcahy, got more Gazette reviews under his belt, and began thinking about writing a book.
"I felt like I'd been covering music as a journalist now for a few years and I was like, 'Why does this music not get recognized? Why is there no real document of the origins of this music?'" he says.
Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore was released in 2004. Terrorizer magazine called it "far and away the most informed and comprehensive document on death metal and grind that you will ever see." Alternative Press called Mudrian "the rare underground metal author who can approach the scene with the kind of critical sharpness it needs to keep evolving."
Around the time of the book's release, Mudrian decided to move to Philly and start Decibel. Mulcahy is the magazine's publisher.
Since then he and Mulcahy have built a full editorial staff, and have sponsored concert tours around the country. Decibel distributes 50,000 magazines a month to national retailers and subscribers, and bands like Neurosis, Behemoth and the Black Dahlia Murder have appeared on its cover. It can be found on bookstore shelves throughout the city.
Time for a big Bang breakthrough?