Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles is a Canadian heavy metal magazine.
Founded by former M.E.A.T. magazine staffer "Metal" Tim Henderson and author Martin Popoff in 1994, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles (BW&BK) has become a globally respected metal publication. Though based in Canada, BW&BK also features writers from the USA, Germany and the UK, allowing the magazine to represent metal's international appeal.
Covering many facets of extreme music, BW&BK is renowned for its emphasis on news and interviews, rather than pin-ups or excessive visuals. The reviews section takes on current records circulating through the underground metal world, and a section called Metal Forecast tracks the release date of upcoming recordings. BW&BK is complemented by its internet presence BraveWords.com, whose main focus is up-to-the-minute metal news.
BW&BK’s direct precursor can be traced to Tim Henderson and the HMV Superstore in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Publishing a newsletter called Metal Tim Bits (the title a play on the Tim Bit donut served at the popular Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons), Henderson was eager to begin a post-M.E.A.T. metal venture. After several photocopied issues of Metal Tim Bits surfaced, Henderson encountered Popoff in the Toronto HMV’s metal section and Popoff began discussing his first metal book, Riff Kills Man. The two subsequently plotted a magazine creation based on Metal Tim Bits, and Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles was born. Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles’ moniker was inspired by Agony Column’s 1990 album of the same name (which, incidentally, received a perfect 10 rating in Popoff’s Collector’s Guide To Heavy Metal.)
200 copies of BW&BK #1 were originally printed, and its cover price was $1.95. HMV embraced the magazine and other record stores followed suit. Issue #1 was 16 pages on grey stock paper, and featured interviews with Pantera, Entombed, Gwar, Cannibal Corpse and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath. No ads appeared in the inaugural issue.
BW&BK continued to grow, reaching 48 pages by October 1997. In the interim, the magazine had spoken to such luminaries as Slayer, Alex Lifeson of Rush (an interview conducted in Lifeson's living room), Metallica's Jason Newsted and Lars Ulrich, Megadeth, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Fear Factory, Cradle of Filth, Venom, Annihilator and many others. By this time, current writers Carl Begai, Chris Bruni, Mark Gromen, Allan Grusie and Aaron Small had joined the team.
BW&BK #21 was the first issue of the magazine to feature a colour cover. Inside the issue, interviews with Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC were featured, while Metallica's ReLoad was chastised in BW&BK’s Cross-Fire review section.
With the introduction of new layout team Hugues Laflamme and Angie Aue, BW&BK was brought to what Popoff described as “world class levels.” Notable moments in this period include interviews with Slayer, Sepultura, Gene Simmons of KISS, Death, Morbid Angel, Emperor, In Flames (in celebration of Gothenburg, Sweden’s then-rising scene), Rhapsody, Hypocrisy, Witchery and a unique chat with Janie Hendrix (administrator of the Jimi Hendrix vaults).
A large piece focusing on Canadian metal bands was also printed, a reflection of BW&BK’s Canadian roots. A Top Metal Albums of the ‘80s feature also surfaced around this time.
Chronicling the rise of power metal, BW&BK printed interviews with Rob Halford, Demons & Wizards, Stratovarius and Eidolon, amongst others. Entombed’s comeback album, Uprising, put the band on the cover of issue #39. AC/DC was once again featured in the magazine, while Iron Maiden, In Flames, Rob Halford, Hypocrisy, Nevermore, The Haunted, Dimmu Borgir, Annihilator and Dimebag Darrell all featured on the magazine cover throughout the year. Current writers David Perri and Greg Pratt also joined the fold.
BW&BK’s distribution now totaled 23 countries and the publication became available wherever metal magazines are sold. BW&BK experimented with a wider range of cover features, including Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Rush alongside mainstays Opeth, Dimmu Borgir and Slayer.
BW&BK debuted the Brave Picks soundcheck in its reviews section. In doing so, BW&BK became one of the first North American metal magazines to use the soundcheck system, which had thus far only being done in European magazines. Soundcheck asks individual writers to rate the month’s most relevant albums, and then average scores based on all the writers’ grades are computed to determine the ranking of each album in the soundcheck.
In 2004, BW&BK celebrated its tenth anniversary. The covers over this annum included first-time appearances from Megadeth, Children of Bodom (one of BW&BK's top-selling issues), Fear Factory, Behemoth, Soulfly, Kataklysm, Candlemass and Gene Simmons of KISS. Classic strongholds Judas Priest and Black Sabbath were also given the main page.
In 2005, BW&BK once again spotlighted Canadian metal, this time creating an incomplete A-Z list of all active, signed Canadian metal bands. Current writer Dom Lawson began contributing to BW&BK.
Most notable about 2006 was BW&BK’s 100th issue, released in October. Filled with personal reflections from Henderson and the rest of the magazine’s staff, issue #100 also included a large quantity of congratulatory autographs from some of metal’s biggest names (all autographs were requested in person by BW&BK staff members, with BW&BK business manager Jacki Short handling the lion’s share of the work). In addition, issue #100 showcased a re-print of BW&BK #1, a nod to the magazine’s roots. Issue #100’s cover notably featured Motörhead legend Lemmy cutting a BW&BK birthday cake.
In conjunction with BW&BK #100, the magazine held a birthday party at Montreal’s Les Foufounes Électriques concert venue/nightclub and also produced the fourth installment of its annual 6-Pack metal festival.
Prior to issue #100, 2006 saw unique activity in the BW&BK camp with Voivod, Sepultura and Satyricon's maiden appearances on the cover, while Lamb of God and Trivium’s faces closed out 2006.
2007 began with a major piece on Heaven & Hell and commercial black metallists Dimmu Borgir gracing BW&BK's cover once again.
BW&BK organized and put on the BW&BK 6 Pack Festival in Cleveland, USA in the spring of 2003, 2004 and 2005. The festival featured, over the years, Falconer, Katatonia, Candlemass, Trouble, Soilwork, Kataklysm, Shadowkeep and other metal luminaries.
2006's incarnation of the 6 Pack Festival was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on October 14 at Le Medley. The line-up included Testament, Brutal Truth, Dismember, Grave, Camilla Rhodes and Torn Within. The pre-show party was also held in Montreal on October 13 at Foufounes Electriques (Canada's equivalent of New York City's famous CBGB), and the Foufounes event also celebrated BW&BK's 100th issue.