Martin Popoff

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Martin Popoff (born 1963) [1] is a Canadian music journalist, critic and author. He is mainly known for writing about the genre of heavy metal music. The senior editor and co-founder of Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles , he has additionally written over twenty books that both critically evaluate heavy metal and document its history. He has been called "heavy metal's most widely recognized journalist" by his publisher. [2] Popoff presently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Music journalism journalism genre

Music journalism is media criticism and reporting about music topics, including popular music, classical music and traditional music. Journalists began writing about music in the eighteenth century, providing commentary on what is now regarded as classical music. In the 1960s, music journalism began more prominently covering popular music like rock and pop after the breakthrough of The Beatles. With the rise of the internet in the 2000s, music criticism developed an increasingly large online presence with music bloggers, aspiring music critics, and established critics supplementing print media online. Music journalism today includes reviews of songs, albums and live concerts, profiles of recording artists, and reporting of artist news and music events.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

<i>Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles</i>

Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles is a Canadian heavy metal magazine. Although based in Canada, BW&BK features writers from the USA, Germany and the UK, allowing the magazine to represent metal music from an international prospective. Covering many facets of extreme music, BW&BK features a reviews section which reports on current records circulating through the underground metal world, a Metal Forecast section which tracks the release date of upcoming recordings, and a website which reports current metal news. Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles was founded by former M.E.A.T. magazine staffer Tim Henderson and author Martin Popoff in 1994.



Born in Castlegar, British Columbia, Popoff's interest in heavy metal began as a youth in Trail, British Columbia, in the early 1970s, when bands such as Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly were in the collections of the older brothers and cousins of Popoff and his friends. Black Sabbath played even heavier music, and became the group his circle of friends thought of as "our band, not the domain of our elders". [3] Other heavy rock albums of the era, such as Nazareth's Razamanaz and Kiss' Hotter Than Hell , further shaped his emerging musical tastes. Angel City and April Wine were among Popoff's favourite bands as a teenager. [4]

Castlegar, British Columbia City in British Columbia, Canada

Castlegar is the second largest community in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada.

Trail, British Columbia City in British Columbia, Canada

Trail is a city in the West Kootenay region of the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It was named after the Dewdney Trail, which passed through the area.

Led Zeppelin English rock band

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band's heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of influences, including blues, psychedelia, and folk music.

Of popular music magazines around at the time, Popoff recalls being a regular reader of Circus , Hit Parader , and later, Kerrang! blew our minds." Popoff does not identify any specific writers as being particularly influential on his own writing style, saying "it never registered who wrote what." [4]

Circus was a monthly American magazine devoted to rock music. It was published from 1966 to 2006. In its heyday the magazine had a full-time editorial staff that included some of the biggest names in rock journalism, such as Paul Nelson, Judy Wieder, David Fricke, and Kurt Loder, and rivaled Rolling Stone in sales and surpassed Creem. In 1974, a sister publication was launched, titled Circus Raves, but by 1977 that venture had been abandoned.

Hit Parader was an American music magazine that operated between 1942 and 2008. A monthly publication, it was a general popular music title until the 1980s, when its focus turned to the genres of hard rock and heavy metal. The magazine reached its peak during the 1980s as heavy metal music achieved high levels of popularity and commercial success.

<i>Kerrang!</i> British magazine about rock and metal music

Kerrang! is a British weekly magazine devoted to rock music and heavy metal music, currently published by Wasted Talent. It was first published on 6 June 1981 as a one-off supplement in the Sounds newspaper. Named after the onomatopoeic word that derives from the sound made when playing a power chord on a distorted electric guitar, Kerrang! was initially devoted to the new wave of British heavy metal and the rise of hard rock acts. In the early 2000s it became the best-selling British music weekly.

Popoff received a B.A in English from the University of Victoria in 1984 and an MBA in marketing at McMaster University in 1987, working for Xerox before co-owning a print brokering company. [1] For a while in the 1980s he also played drums in a bar band called Torque. In 1993 he released his first book, the independently published Riff Kills Man!: 25 Years Of Recorded Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, a collection of 1,942 critical reviews of heavy metal records. Shortly after its publication he co-founded Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles , which released its first issue in 1994. He soon returned to his reviews book, releasing a revised and expanded version in 1997 titled The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal, which almost doubled the original book's number of reviews to 3,700. In the book he identifies three major stages in the early development of heavy metal. The first stage, "invention", took place in 1970 with the release of Deep Purple in Rock coinciding with debut albums from Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep. Stage two, "re-invention", occurred in 1976 with Judas Priest's Sad Wings of Destiny . The third stage, "re-intensification", happened in 1984 with the release of Metallica's Ride the Lightning . [5]

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

English studies is an academic discipline taught in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education in English-speaking countries; it is not to be confused with English taught as a foreign language, which is a distinct discipline. English includes: the study of literature written in the English language, the majority of which comes from Britain, the United States, and Ireland ; English composition, including writing essays, short stories, and poetry; English language arts, including the study of grammar, usage, and style; and English sociolinguistics, including discourse analysis of written and spoken texts in the English language, the history of the English language, English language learning and teaching, and the study of World Englishes. English linguistics is usually treated as a distinct discipline, taught in a department of linguistics.

University of Victoria university in Victoria, British Columbia

The University of Victoria (UVic) is a major public research university located in the Greater Victoria municipalities of Oak Bay and Saanich, British Columbia, Canada. The University of Victoria is the oldest post-secondary institution in British Columbia, tracing its roots back to Victoria College which was founded in 1903, under the sponsorship of McGill University. The university has approximately 22,000 students, including many post-graduate and doctoral candidates. The university operates nine academic faculties and schools; the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, and the Faculties of Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Human & Social Development, Humanities, Law, Science, and Social Sciences.

In the 2000s Popoff revised and expanded his Collector's Guide one more time, splitting it up by decade into three separate volumes comprising a total of 6,763 albums spanning three decades of heavy metal. [6] Volume 3: The Nineties was published in 2007.

Popoff has stated that he considers the greatest record of all time to be Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti , followed by Black Sabbath's Sabotage . [7] He has also named Queen's self-titled debut as his personal favourite record of all time, [8] and often regards Max Webster as his all-time favourite band. [9] Newer groups that Popoff has spoken highly of include Mastodon, Opeth, Lamb of God and Dark Tranquillity. [10] [11] His Collector's Guide became rather notorious in some circles of rock fans for a particularly scathing review of Def Leppard's worldwide smash hit glam metal album Hysteria , to which he awarded a score of zero (out of ten). Popoff continues to defend his opinion of it years later, citing "just awful production, lyrics, singing, clichés of every musical and lyrical sort." [12]

<i>Physical Graffiti</i> 1975 studio album by Led Zeppelin

Physical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released as a double album on 24 February 1975 by the group's new record label, Swan Song Records.

<i>Sabotage</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1975 studio album by Black Sabbath

Sabotage is the sixth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in July 1975. It was recorded in the midst of litigation with their former manager Patrick Meehan and the stress that resulted from the band's ongoing legal woes infiltrated the recording process, inspiring the album's title. It was co-produced by guitarist Tony Iommi and Mike Butcher.

Queen (band) British rock band

Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Their earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock.

A number of Popoff's other books are biographies of notable metal bands, including Black Sabbath in Doom Let Loose and Dio in Light Beyond The Black. While the biographies are usually not officially authorized, a large amount of research consists of interviews between Popoff and members of each band. Popoff has said of his relationship with his subjects: "I censor myself because I don't want to write something to hurt people. You write a book on Sabbath and you don’t want to write something to hurt (their) families - I love those guys." [13] A Judas Priest biography, Heavy Metal Painkillers, was published in 2007.

In 2014 Popoff stated that he is working on a new book, entitled Who Invented Heavy Metal? [14] On March 6, 2015 Popoff told Metal Shock Finland's Chief Editor, Mohsen Fayyazi that he had finished writing the book and it will be published in approximately a month's time. [15]

Partial bibliography

Collector's Guide series

Ye Olde Metal series

Rock biographies


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  1. 1 2 Popoff, Martin (1997). The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal. Burlington: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 538.
  2. "Martin Popoff". Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  3. Popoff, Martin (2006). Black Sabbath : Doom Let Loose : An Illustrated History. Toronto: ECW Press. p. ix.
  4. 1 2 Popoff, Martin (July 2000). "Martin Popoff... On heavy metal, rock criticism, and carpal tunnel syndrome". (An E-Mail Interview). Steven Ward. Archived from the original on September 7, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  5. Popoff, Martin (1997). The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal. Burlington: Collector's Guide Publishing. pp. 280–281.
  6. "Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal - Vol.2". Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  7. Popoff, Martin (2006). Black Sabbath : Doom Let Loose : An Illustrated History. Toronto: ECW Press. p. 114.
  8. Popoff, Martin (2003). The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal Volume I: The Seventies. Toronto: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 221.
  9. Popoff, Martin (2014). Live Magnetic Air: The Unlikely Saga of the Superlative Max Webster. Toronto: Power Chord Press. p. 13.
  10. "Maximum Metal Interview Results". Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  11. "GET READY TO ROLL!". Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  12. "Popoff Defends Some Of His Reviews". Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  13. "Rock Eyez - Martin Popoff (Bravewords & Bloody Knuckles) Interview". Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  14. "Future Plans". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  15. "Martin Popoff: "Who Invented Heavy Metal"; The Answer Will Come Soon". Metal Shock Finland. March 6, 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015.