When I was a wee metal lad, I never really bought metal magazines. At the very least, I didn't buy metal magazines to find out about new music. That's what zines were for.
Somewhere in 1995, I came across Chronicles of Chaos. How that occurred is lost in the sands of time. A printed version of the zine came into my hands from some unknown source, to whom I am eternally grateful.
Founded by Gino Filicetti and the late Adrian Bromley, Chronicles of Chaos was of a new generation of zines. No hand-scrawled artwork would grace these pages - COC #1 was sent out via e-mail. Any kid with an AOL account could get their hands on it, and that's what I did. Filled with reviews of albums from bands I'd never heard of, the zine was a revelation. Thanks to it's digital birth, all the original issues are available here.
That first issue featured a review of Suffocation's Pierced From Within, which I then went out and bought sight unseen. I guess all you had to say was "amazing lead riffs in the vein of Carcass's 'Heartwork'" and I was sold. Needless to say, it had a pretty big impact on my musical tastes.
Chronicles of Chaos was compiled and sent out to eager lovers of metal for years, without fail. With reviews by its founders, along with Brian Meloon and later Pedro Azevedo, COC was my metal bible for a long time. With a few notable exceptions, I almost always agreed with these guys about metal. I trusted their opinions.
In the true spirit of the zine, COC had no advertising and made no money for its writers. They did it for the love of metal. The writing was always top notch, and there was never any need to question their journalistic integrity. When I went to college and started writing album reviews for the newspaper there, I purposely wrote in the style of Chronicles of Chaos.
In 2003, Chronicles of Chaos took fully to the web, and eventually foresook the monthly e-mail format. The site persists to this day, with some different writers but the same quality. I still discover a gem of an album there once in a while that they praise and no one else does. COC has remained steadfastly un-hipster throughout. I love decibel, but I can't trust an album review there as far as I could throw it.
Chronicles of Chaos also has some excellent retrospective pieces. I always find myself referring back to their excellent essays on the history of doom and black metal. When it comes time for end of the year lists, I always agree with theirs the most.
These days, metal websites and blogs abound. But no one seems to mention Chronicles of Chaos anymore. At least I don't see it. So anyway, do yourself a favor and check out their site. Chronicles of Chaos always was and will be the place to find out about the good metal.