From Black Dog Publishing comes a new tome on one of metal’s most sensational genres. Black Metal. Refreshingly so, Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness takes a look at some of the less dramatic and convoluted aspects of the genre. In fact some of the writers and bands interviewed even scoff at the mythic tales of black metal’s sordid past. Oh, you know the ones. While I fully believe they are important to black metal as a whole it’s nice to see them put in their proper place and viewed without a nod to any of the hype. This book is far from the Lords Of Chaos take on things. This makes it not only a good standalone read, but also a fine companion to that other legendary book on this dark and mysterious music.
Just looking at the cover I got the feeling this book would truly be in tune with the heart of black metal. That feeling was not wrong. I was more and more impressed with each turn of the page with how well put together and thought out it really is. The only downside is that with multiple contributing writers covering so many different subjects a few parts aren’t very cohesive with others. The book takes off with a look from Nathan Birk on the often overlooked part of black metal’s history, Greek and Italian black metal. Seeing as some may not be as familiar with this it’s a great start. Though a small scene, this section details its roots how important it was to black metal.
One of the odder sections is the piece from Liturgy’s Hunter Hunt-Hendrix(the Triple H of black metal?!) on transcendental black metal. It almost reads like an essay on how great he thinks his band is. I do like Liturgy, and I believe there are some interesting ideas contained in his theory, but many kvlt disciples will surely be slamming their books down in disgust as they shout, “HE’S A FALSE!”
Complete with vintage photos(mostly black and white of course) throughout and bleak nature photos separating chapters Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness takes you a little off the beaten path of the genre. I learned of many new zines and distros to check out. All of them are worthwhile, by the way. I even discovered a black metal tape only distro called Teutonic Satan that is located in my very town! At the same time, I was also treading familiar territory with a warm sense of nostalgia leading to the newer icy climes I enjoyed getting familiar with.
There’s even a large section on U.S. black metal. It’s nice to see a serious tone taken towards this third wave of black metal that is usually thought of as a joke or not legitimate to many in the scene. It delves directly into things with an oral history from the bands themselves. The U.S. musicians make some pretty incendiary, albeit funny, comments regarding the genres past and its wild Norwegian folklore. Their brazen honesty is definitely a highlight of the entire book.
One of the greatest aspects of Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness is the view of black metal as a true art form. Black metal is outcast and rarely taken seriously by the mainstream. Parts of this book take a deeper look and attempt to help remedy that. Subjects range from the genre’s influence on art and writing to the aesthetics of the genre itself. Album cover art is discussed at length as well as the style and dress of bands. This is so important because traditionally these are key components of black metal. They help create its greatest asset: atmosphere.
Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness is a book for people who who truly appreciate and understand black metal written by people who have that same respect and understanding. It belongs on your bookshelf in between Swedish Death Metal and Lords Of Chaos. It’s perfect to get completely lost in with a dark brew at hand late at night and the very bands being discussed blasting from your headphones. This is a must have for any black metal fan.