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Encyclopedia of Svensk Dodsmetall (Book Review)
Released: 2008, Edizoni del Noce
I have always had an affinity for the golden age of Swedish Death Metal. I bought lots of albums and consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the scene for a guy from Western Canada. However as soon as you think you know something, there is always someone around the corner who knows way more than you ever will. Nicola Constantini is one of those guys. He has taken his passion for Swedish Death Metal to a whole new level and has written a book about it.
Constantini started as a fan in Italy and his tape trading became an obsession leading to the creation of a fanzine and a global network of contacts. In 2008 he put that mass of knowledge together and published his first book, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SVENSK DODSMETALL. The book is oversized black and white soft cover with a thicker glossy cover with some cool art. The back cover folds out to reveal a map of Sweden that is a useful reference tool. My copy is hand numbered (#515 to be exact) and it is 216 pages long. The whole book is made to look like a fanzine on purpose, so the typesetting and layout looks like a classic Metal zine. The book has the usual features, table of contents, index and an introduction where Constatini explains his obsession with tape trading led to the creation the book.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SVENSK DODSMETALL isn’t really an encyclopedia in the traditional sense is part reference guide and part compilation of interviews. The main purpose of the book is to catalogue the golden era of Swedish Death Metal cassettes namely from 1988-1992. Accordingly to Constantini there are so many bootlegs and countless replications it is difficult for even the most experienced collector to determine what is real..because as we all know…only death is real! He provides a system of accurately describing the format and characteristics of the tapes so collectors can assess their own collection. As a cassette collector myself, I found this fascinating but perhaps for someone not as interested, it might be dull to read about the very subtle differences in printing of various generations of the demos and EP’s. He focuses virtually exclusively on demos but does mention some vinyl and a few of the main releases, which any Swedish Death Metal fan should own.
There are many interviews and combinations of his short essays as he follows the development of the scene starting with Bathory (and a great interview with Quorthon) and onto early bands with bands like Morbid, Merciless and Mefisto. Running chronologically there are interviews, facts, figures, demo stats for about 80 bands. There are many pictures of bands (all black and white) and pictures of demo cassettes. Some of his English is a little rough but it is very serviceable and his writing is enthusiastic.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SVENSK DODSMETALL may be restricted to a few select die-hard fans of that scene and era but for the few of us who do like it, this is an utterly amazing, mandatory book.
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