Swedish Death Metal – Book
In the early to mid 1980s, a bunch of hardcore punk bands started changing their sound and incorporating more metal elements into it as they learned to play their instruments better. This “crossover” sound spawned a whole new genre of music called thrash metal which was made famous by bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus and others. This also resulted in the spawning of grindcore and of course, death metal. Over on the other side of the globe in the country of Sweden, the kids went crazy for thrash metal, and then they practically invented death metal over there. In fact the two main birthplaces of death metal were Florida and Sweden, with some further conceiving happening over in the UK as well. Death metal is a genre that is still alive and kicking today and bigger than ever so it was about time someone wrote a document on its origins, or at least its origins in one of the biggest regions at the time of its heyday.
Swedish native Daniel Ekeroth, a death metal musician and of course a huge metal fan, was the man up to the daunting task of doing tons of research, doing a bunch of interviews, and sitting down and compiling it all into this book, simply titled Swedish Death Metal. He attempts to chronicle a scene 20 years after the fact, a scene that often revolved around heavy drinking and partying so people’s memories in many cases were a little foggy and Daniel had to search through the fog to find the hidden or lost details.
The book starts off telling the history of how thrash metal spawned from hardcore punk and then how the bigger bands formed. The story is similar to that of old punks like myself where a small number of outcasts discovered this great underground music and started a little scene of like minded people who shared similar interests in extreme music which resulted in people picking up instruments and starting their own bands, or starting fanzines, or record labels and stores. From there it goes into each little scene that sprouted up in Sweden and gives great detail on the major players of each scene and the bands that they started. There is a great amount of depth in each story and the stories are told clearly and they segue nicely into each other.
The book covers the heyday of Swedish death metal throughout a number of chapters that divide the book into sections either by locale, time peroid, or band. The stories are pretty fascinating with lots of quotes from various interviews with the people involved at the time. You really learn a lot from this book and if you weren’t there at the time, by the time you finish this thing you will at least have a really good understanding what it was like to have been.
The book weighs in at a whopping 447 pages. There’s lots of photos of old demos, records, and the bands covered along with some rather small print so it will take you a bit of time to get through the whole thing The first 276 pages tells the history and the rest of the book is a mammoth “Deathography” (ie: discography) that gives a great listing of each band and their releases. After reading the book, it gave me a bunch of things I now want to seek out for my own collection which is going to probably end up costing me a small pile of cash! The book is in black and white which is totally fitting for the subject matter and the cover art was illustrated by Swedish death metal founder Nicke Andersson (of Entombed fame, among others).
While not a hardcore fan of death metal but more of a mild one, I can tell you that reading this book opened my eyes to a much bigger world that I missed out on and now at the very least want to go back and explore the musical output from. The book was a fun and educational read from start to finish and well worth checking out for anyone with even a small interest in the death metal genre.