“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
Earlier this year we took quite a random side-step away from our usual music-focused content and released a zine exploring the worlds of FromSoftware’s Soulsborne series. It was a niche passion project and we went into it knowing that there was every chance it would be a flop, but the response ended up surpassing anything we could have hoped for. That this labour of love could attract such attention opened our eyes to the fact that, no matter the topic, we’re at our best when writing about the things we’re passionate about.
As a DIY publication that we all work on around our lives and day jobs, we’re not beholden to the music industry to the extent a bigger publication might be, and the freedom to explore the areas we want to is something we really value. Thus, though music will always be our primary focus, A5 zines such as The Soulsborne Issue are becoming a way for us to hone in on a specific subject we’re interested in, and trust us when we say we have a ton of ideas in the works for future issues.
One of the first things we thought of when discussing future zine ideas was something looking at the works of Tolkien, a topic that is so engrained in the realm of heavy metal (and has been pretty much since its inception). With the Soulsborne zine, we went in with the aim to explore the series from a unique perspective, one looking at the series’ recent influence on music and that approached the games from a leftist perspective. Comparatively, Tolkien’s legendarium and The Lord of the Rings in particular have been written about to death, and finding a unique angle is perhaps a much tougher task.
We’ve undoubtedly walked some familiar ground over the course of this zine, but we’ve strived to approach it with some original ideas and some interesting perspectives on both Tolkien’s writings and their subsequent adaptations by the likes of Ralph Bakshi and Peter Jackson. Most of all, though, this is quite simply a collaborative effort from a team of writers and artists with a passion for these works, which we’ve examined from the perspective of music fans and those who see both the valid criticisms of Tolkien’s work and their potential as symbols of hope.
Physical copies are available now at the link above, and the digital edition will be available upon release on 30th July. Today we’re also releasing a special mystery print that can be purchased as part of a bundle with the zine here. Copies are very limited so act fast! (If you’ve already ordered the zine and want to receive the mystery print, DM us on Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Inside the zine
Inside you’ll find a variety of content. The zine is headed up by a thinkpiece from Feminazgûl‘s Margaret Killjoy, which touches on the (hopefully unconscious) racism to be found in Tolkien’s work but mainly explores The Lord of the Rings as an allegory for power – the ring of power cannot be wielded, it can only be destroyed. There’s also an interview with Feminazgûl exploring how their reinterpretation of the Nazgûl works in a feminist context.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a piece looking at the deep conceptual ties between metal and Tolkien, as well as a deeper dive into black metal in particular, and the way that it shares a fondness for antiquity found within Tolkien’s writings. This section also includes a piece exploring an alternative perspective on Aragorn, which sidesteps the monarchist and religious themes found in his journey to instead look at the times he turns away from power. Later on, another feature explores The Shire as an example of anarchism in practise – an almost utopian ideal compared to the increasingly dystopian real world.
For movie fans, there’s a piece exploring composter Howard Shore’s breathtaking use of leitmotif in Peter Jackson’s landmark trilogy, and another that takes a nostalgic look at Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation. For a more lighthearted approach to the material, we also interviewed parody band Gimli, Son of Glóin, whose dizzying extreme metal uses samples from John-Rhys Davies’ Gimli, and we also spoke to Goblinsmoker and Gandalf The Green for a feature exploring LOTR’s impact on weed culture and stoner metal.
One of the zine’s longer features is an in-depth interview with The Tolkien Professor himself, Corey Olsen, who is able to bring an academic perspective to Tolkien’s expansive works. Finally, the zine is rounded out by a feature focused on the bittersweet ending of The Lord of the Rings, and the way that Tolkien had a unique understanding for how happy endings are not always wholly joyful – they bring change, and with change comes some form of loss.
Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!