Written by: George Washburn
I started Rock Music Critic, as it is known now, in February of 2003 under the original moniker of HeavyMetalReviews.com. I didn’t have high expectations for the site as I really had no experience as a writer; it just seemed like an interesting way to supplement my music collection and keep up with my web design skills. I tried a lot of different designs, writing styles and rating systems but was never really happy with the site. It never felt “real.”
After the first few years I lost interest and got sidetracked by other things and the site went dormant. It stayed that way for a couple years. Eventually the bug bit me again and I decided it was time to revive the site, only this time I wanted to have the option to write about whatever I wanted, not just heavy metal. I listen to all kinds of “rock” music – classic 60s rock like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, punk rock from the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, and even 80s pop rock stuff like Men At Work and Huey Lewis. I thought the site might be more viable if I could be free to write about whatever I happened to be listening to, heavy metal or not. That’s right; this is when I decided it would be a good idea to sell out. Actually, I kind of liked the idea of putting reviews of obscure black metal bands on the page next to the latest Bruce Springsteen.
The idea seemed like a good one at the time and that is when, in 2008, I changed the site to become Rock Music Critic. After switching everything over I basked in my new-found freedom by writing about what I wanted to write about…which turned out to be more heavy metal. You see, while I enjoy all kinds of rock music, most of what I enjoy has already been released for years. In my opinion, the state of new rock music today is pretty grim. I don’t recognize much but older songs on the radio, because most new rock music just kind of sucks. There are some exceptions, but not enough for me to bother writing about here. Heavy metal, on the other hand, just keeps mutating. And while it goes through periods of stagnation it keeps finding a way to be relevant again to the fans of the genre.
I still own HeavyMetalReviews.com, I could have switched back. But I decided I liked the sound of Rock Music Critic better, and who knows, maybe eventually I’ll find I can branch out again. The only real problem I have with the name is that people will send music to the site without really knowing anything about RMC and I end up with music that I’m not going to post. I feel kind of bad about that, but hey, do your homework and check the site out before submitting something. If all the posts are metal bands maybe that says something. I remember the first time I picked up Maximum RockNRoll I thought it sure was full of punk music. If they can do it with a broad-ranging name, so can I.
Another change I made to the site was throwing out the rating system completely. Rating an album from one to ten or any other system is such an arbitrary way of reviewing music. It always kept me second guessing myself because I didn’t want to accidentally rate a great album lower than a mediocre album that I had reviewed a year ago. I know when I read a review (be it music, movies or a product on Amazon) I don’t care what number you give it or how many stars, I just want to know what you think; is it worth my time and money? So rather than giving a rating to an album I just tell you what I like, what I don’t like and let you figure out based on that whether you want to take the next step. I’m much more comfortable with this system and to me the site finally feels “real.”
Rock Music Critic is a labor of love (I’ve never made a dime off the site) and I expect it always will be. I get a lot of satisfaction hearing back from bands that enjoyed the review I gave them. I’d like to hear from readers more to get their opinion, but I don’t hear from readers very often. The numbers tell me you are out there, let me hear your voice. Drop me an email and tell me what you like about the site, what you don’t like.
So what makes me think I’m qualified to review music?
To paraphrase a Clint Eastwood movie (I think it might be “The Dead Pool”) – “Assholes are like opinions, everybody has one.” I can’t put it more simply than that. We’ve all got opinions about things and they frequently don’t agree. But I’ve been listening to heavy metal and going to shows for about thirty years now and I figure even without trying I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. I’ll spout out to you my so-called wisdom as an elder in the metal community and you can take it or leave it, the choice is yours. I don’t consider myself an expert, just someone who has seen and heard a lot of metal over the years. Some people find that interesting.