Oh fucking yes!
What am I supposed to say? Graaah! Hail Satan! I was waiting for this book for so long. As soon as I found out about it I had it on order, and it was months away, and when it was finally published, I was already in Bologna. Which meant my first trip of the year to St George’s had this utterly fucking fantastic book waiting for me.
The cover! I am so happy I will have that cover between my fingers for the next weeks, and that when I fly to Zürich on the weekend whoever sits next to me will see it. It’s a big book too, big, heavy, nearly 500 pages, stacks of images, colour plates in the middle! And not just a couple, 64 pages of colour! Venom! Bathory! Celtic Frost! Mayhem! (that little Nazi Burzum also.) Gorgoroth! Gaahl! Attila Csihar! And that’s just the old stuff!
I’m not even a hundred pages in and already I’ve learned so much about the history of black metal, putting bands and connections in place and together, influences, who was where when and with whom, who came from where. I read Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground (also from Feral House) a long time ago, a friend had it and for whatever its real worth, it’s essential introductory reading. Dayal Patterson’s Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult is much better. Of course the subject matter isn’t identical, it covers a greater timespan, from the early ’80s (late ’70s even) following bands and people up till today; also a wider geographic spread, from Brazil and Canada to Greece as well as the more usual black metal Scandinavian countries. It’s the book you read if you want thirty years of black metal in all its forms without the church-burning sensationalism.
What’s missing? Well, an index would be good. Chapters for the most part are one per band, occasionally one per genre, location, or timespan, but being able to look up everywhere Gaahl turns up would be very useful (for example). Or a bibliography or chronology of recordings cited — and there are a lot. If I was to be especially avaricious, this book should come with all that music, one or two tracks from every important recording, it would be fucking diabolical.
I forget how much this cost; it doesn’t matter it’s worth it. It’s worth it for seeing so clearly documented the crossover between early black metal, punk, and hardcore. Also for – especially with the European people – a clear political or moral philosophy, almost as if those who were more of an overt political philosophy went toward punk while those who considered a moral philosophy went toward metal, but both were part of the same sphere.
Yes, so, Black Metal. The goats are happy. It needs its own bookshelf.