Moses, Alan & Pattison, Brian
Glorious Times: A Pictorial of the Death Metal Scene (1984-1991) (Book Review)
Released: 2009, Independent
GLORIOUS TIMES is quite an interesting and unique project. This book is an independent publication made for the pure love of metal and times gone by. Alan Moses and Brian Pattison (nope, I’ve never heard of them either) have compiled a living history, an in-depth first hand portrait of the Death Metal Scene.
As mentioned on the back cover of this 150+ page book, this is not a dry anthropological study nor an academic analysis. This is a collection of vivid first hand accounts of the metal soldiers who were in the trenches from 1984-1991. The book itself is a nice, oversized paperback with nice glossy paper that makes you high when you sniff the ink on the pages. There is a lengthy and somewhat rambling introduction by Laurent Ramadier of SnakePit.org who discusses in a highly opinionated style (most of which I agree with) the differences between the original Death Metal scene and the current scene. As a book it is a budget production and the layout and design could use some refinement but it is an excellent effort.
The book is laid out by band alphabetical order with a few pages dedicated to 48 different bands from that era. There are bands from all over the world, many of the names you would expect, Death, Deicide, Deceased and so on and some names that maybe never quite got the recognition of the others; bands like Groovy Aardvark, Hideous Mangleus and Where’s The Pope.
Each band entry has a number of candid photos, virtually all of them snapshots of the bands live, fooling around, partying etc. I can’t believe how young everyone looks! It is interesting to note that with the exception of the live photos, where the musicians are concentrating, almost all of the photos everyone is smiling and having a good time! Who said Death Metal was morbid?
Each band has a write up, mostly from members of those bands who share some intimate memories and recollections from ‘the good ol’ days’. This is not a mere recounting of common knowledge of tours and albums, this is an in-depth personal recounting of the era. It is really fascinating. I didn’t know that Pat from Hellwitch had almost cut his finger off in a bizarre gardening accident in 1986! There is enough trivia here to satisfy any Death Metal fan. There is a ton of rare material that has been captured here.
The only slightly negative I could mention is that looking at these stories and tales is the slight feeling of disconnect. As a guy, the same age as most of the people in these bands, reading GLORIOUS TIMES was akin looking at someone else’s photo album. Growing up in Western Canada these bands never, ever came up here. It is very cool but it’s like listening to (or reading about) someone’s else fond memories. If you were not actually there (and not a part of that circle or group of friends) you will always be an outsider looking in. Eg. “Remember that time that Fred got so drunk he puked on Barney’s cat? Ha! ha! That was hilarious!” Unless you were there that night or personally know Barney or Fred, it probably isn’t all that hilarious. It would be the same in reverse. If I was to compile all my personal stories of good times, parties and drunkenness, and publish it no one would care, except me and a few friends who were there. However, because these people (the Death Metal dudes) went on to become internationally famous and respected musicians there is enough here to compel the reader to identify with what it was like, even if you weren’t there.
If you happened to be involved with one of the bands or part of the tape-trading scene or ‘zine scene, then this will be the best scrapbook you could ever compile. That is what GLORIOUS TIMES really is, the ultimate Death Metal scrap-book from hell. It is raw, uncensored and authentic. A more pure history you will never find. If you are not a heavy-duty Death Metal fan, maybe you can crank this rating back a notch or two. However I am a heavy duty Death Metal fan so I really enjoyed it and you will too.