Released: 2018, Svart Publishing
Reviewed: February 2018
Reviewer: Oliver Manso
Released in November last year by Svart Publishing, “The Devil’s Cradle: The Story of Finnish Black Metal” at first appears to be one more book about black metal. Indeed, there have been many books regarding that subject in the past 15 years and only a few of them are really worth reading. Fortunately, this one achieves that and is worth checking out.
Containing more than 550 pages, “The Devil’s Cradle” is almost an encyclopedia of the Finnish black metal scene. Except a few notable bands, that haven’t been mentioned for some reason, that book brilliantly tells the story and impact of black metal in Finland. The author, Tero Ikäheimonen, (who works as a journalist) did an impressive job and we can clearly notice he writes with a lot of passion. He had the great idea to focus exclusively on bands from his homeland rather than doing something generalist (like most of his counterparts). I think he made the right choice as some people are getting tired to hear about the famous Norwegian scene over and over. Furthermore, Finland spawned some cult and excellent black metal acts since the end of the 80s. Anyway, that scene deserved its own book soon or later!
First of all, “The Devil’s Cradle” talks about the Finnish black metal pioneers, including Beherit, Impaled Nazarene, Archgoat and Barathrum. The interviews are very informative and interesting. They provide a lot of details about the records and the musicians’ career as well. It was also good to know some anecdotes about the war between the Finnish and Norwegian scenes during the early 90s.
Then, Tero Ikäheimonen focuses on many different bands, the most well-known ones being Satanic Warmaster, Horna, Behexen, Goatmoon, Thy Serpent, …and Oceans, Azazel and Alghazanth for example. Once again, the interviews are very extensive and provide interesting stories and a lot of details not only about music but also ideology (Satanism, Anti-Christianity, National Socialism, etc.).
In addition to bands, the author talks about tape-trading, Ahti Kortelainen (a sound engineer well-known for having worked with the biggest Finnish black metal acts) and provides a detailed list of satanic crimes linked with the local scene.
“The Devil’s Cradle” is a very good black metal book in general, and as I said previously, there is plenty of interesting information about that scene. However, it’s still far from being perfect and has some defects unfortunately.
Firstly, I’m very surprised and disappointed that Tero Ikäheimonen didn’t even mention Catamenia in his book. That’s quite shocking as they were one of the most well-known and talented Finnish black metal acts from the end of the 90s to the middle of the 2000s. They used to play Symphonic black metal at that time and have always been part of Massacre Records’ roster, one of the biggest German metal labels! An interview with that band was absolutely mandatory for such a book.
Then, he didn’t mention some great acts like Gloomy Grim and Ajattara, which is disappointing once again. For instance, I remember Gloomy Grim had a good fanbase in France during that same period since French label Holy Records (well-known for launching Septicflesh and Orphaned Land’s careers) did a great promotion job for them.
Moreover, there are some interviews that are completely useless, especially the ones with Ride for Revenge, Anal Blasphemy, IC Rex, Charnel Winds and Cosmic Church. The author should have talked with more significant, talented acts such as Catamenia, Gloomy Grim, Ajattara, Uhrilehto, Shade Empire and Ancestors Blood instead.
Throughout “The Devil’s Cradle”, we can clearly see that Tero Ikäheimonen is a big fan of underground, raw and radical black metal. Even though Thy Serpent, Alghazanth and …and Oceans are featured on it, I’ve still got the feeling that Melodic/Symphonic black metal is not his cup of tea. He simply preferred to focus on bands he likes (same case for UK journalist Dayal Patterson).
To conclude, I would say that any black metal fan should get “The Devil’s Cradle”. Despite the absence of Catamenia and a few other notable bands, this book contains so much interesting information that you can’t ignore it in the end!