From Publishers Weekly
Mainstream rock fans may not be familiar with Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death or Carcass, but over the past 20 years these groups' blend of punk and heavy metal—their grisly lyrics, mile-a-minute rhythms and macabre album art—have found an enthusiastic, loyal fan base of mostly young, almost exclusively male listeners. Mudrian, editor-in-chief of Decibel magazine, condenses painstaking and lengthy interviews to create this informative history of death metal, covering the genre's origin in small clubs and basements on two continents; its spike in popularity and major-label interest circa 1992 ("Godflesh could be the next Nine Inch Nails"); the relative obscurity that followed; and the music's rebirth in recent years. What's astonishing is how normal so many of the featured players seem: behind the facade of Satan-worshipping, gore-flinging aggression, they're mostly a bunch of hardworking dudes who love the music and the outlet it provides for pent-up anger and energy. Mudrian aims largely at fans, and his exhaustive research may tire readers who bring nothing but curiosity to the book. New death metal fans, conversely, will read with an eye to expanding their collections, while older listeners will undoubtedly enjoy the memories and the gossip, along with the fanzine-quality band photos that complement text throughout. John Peel, one of Great Britain's most respected and influential DJs, offers an entertaining introduction.
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Mudrian details two of the more esoteric subgenres of heavy metal in appropriate fashion, that is, with photos of the bands, but not definitions of and distinctions between, say, death metal and black metal, abounding. By and large, Mudrian treats grindcore and death metal as interrelated approaches to the verbally gloomy, power-chording world of heavy metal that are leavened by a stiff dose of the punk do-it-yourself ethos and created by musicians who "grew up on traditional heavy metal, thrash and speed metal, punk, industrial and hardcore." Taxonomic considerations aside, Mudrian provides conversational histories of such bands as Cannibal Corpse, Darkthrone, and Sepultra and highlights of interviews with leading subgenre movers and shakers. Altogether, the book is similar to the three Decline of Western Civilization documentaries of outsider music, minus those films' endearing footage of substance abuse and other suicidal behaviors. An excellent shelf mate to Moynihan and Soderlind's Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground (1998)--not as scary for fans' parents but just as insightful and comprehensive. Mike Tribby
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