By K. Ann Sulaiman
More than 40 years have passed since Birmingham’s Black Sabbath entered the world of music with their eponymous first album, but the legacy of Heavy Metal they helped pioneer is still strong today. Birmingham’s Home of Metal project has been celebrating the city’s history with the genre for years. Birmingham Review caught up with Alexander Milas, editor of Metal Hammer – the UK’s biggest Metal magazine, at the campaign’s recent Heavy Metal & Place conference.
“Birmingham probably has one of the deepest music histories throughout the UK, and for metal it’s absolutely essential,” commented Milas, “It all has a deep sense of heritage about itself, which is surprising that Home of Metal has taken this long to come into existence despite such deep history”. But why has the cited ‘birthplace of Metal’ been so slow to document its heritage?
“I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that Heavy Metal is still stigmatised; it’s not really viewed as worthy of preservation, though it can be argued that it’s one of the biggest exports out of the UK,” continued Milas, whose came from America to head the UK based publication, “the music now exists in every timezone and every country, not to mention that it influences millions of people.”
Though Birmingham’s Metal scene is more fragmented than in cities like London, where Metal Hammer’s UK office is based, Milas believes it’s spirit is just as strong.
“There are a lot of factors that influence this, but there’s no doubt that there is a Metal Scene here… the band Manowar played their first show in the UK after 17 years, and it was in Birmingham, where tickets were all sold out at the O2 Academy.”
And as for the future of Heavy Metal in the city that spawned Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin and Judas Priest? “[Birmingham] is really the spiritual homeland of the music that we hold dear,” concluded Milas, “and it’s always inspiring to come back to see where Metal has come from.”