Released: 2015, Decibel Books
Exactly 10 years ago (June, 2005) I wrote a review of Albert Mudrian’s excellent book, CHOOSING DEATH. It has stood for years as a milestone work in Metal literature and despite a mildly critical tone of the review, I still thought it was essential reading for Metal fans. Now 10 years later CHOOSING DEATH is back from the dead in a newly revised edition. My review will be a bit shorter, so consider this a bit if a public service announcement and a companion to my earlier review.
The improvements are immediately noticeable. CHOOSING DEATH has now been published by Decibel Books, a division of the Decibel magazine of which Mudrian founded. It is kind of nice to keep it in house. The book is now a hardcover book and I always think is a little nicer. The paper quality is a bit better too. The cover art was done by Dan Seagrave a name synonymous with the early wave of Death Metal album covers. On a side note I met Mr. Seagrave at the Noctis Metal fest and you couldn’t meet a nicer fellow. I’m glad his career has had a parallel resurgence with the resurgence of Death Metal.
One of my main complaints of the first version were the blurry photos. I understand the shots were an attempt to make it look like a b&w underground fanzine, all off-kilter and photo-copied 10 times over, but a lousy photo is still a lousy photo. All that has been fixed, the layout, design, quality and quantity of photos has been improved, making the book just look way better. Maybe the 20th anniversary version will be printed in colour! Overall the book just looks and feels way better. The original version was good, but this is superior.
One thing I noticed is that there seemed to be a bit of a sentiment from the author and people interviewed that Death Metal suffered some sort of decline. I can logically grasp that concept but in reality there is more Death Metal than ever before. More labels, more shows, more videos, more bands, more albums. In terms of QUANTITY the genre has kept growing. In terms of QUALITY, well… that is strictly subjective. Some simple on-line research shows us there that every single year since 1985 there have been more Death Metal albums released than the previous year. So any decline is strictly in the mind of the individual because the figures do not support the evidence. Be that as it may, I know many people who are enjoying the perceived resurgence of the original classic bands and Mudrian makes several interesting, insightful points about the current state of the art today.
The one thing I liked about this version is that is was more than just a single chapter added on the end. Many publishers will do that when they print a bands biography, just reprint the same book 10 years on with a chapter covering the recent years. MUDRIAN added way more value to CHOOSING DEATH. He has gone back and fixed things up and added bits and pieces of information and according to the author fixed some mistakes. I didn’t really notice any glaring errors last time but it was nice to note the attention to detail. The last two chapters cover the last decade and have some salient and intelligent remarks about the resurgence of bands like At The Gates, Carcass and a handful of other bands who have reformed and are experiencing as much (or more) success than they ever did in the first wave.
If you did not choose CHOOSING DEATH the first time around, now is the perfect time to get this even better version. Long Live Death!