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Moynihan, Michael and Soderlin, Didrik
Lords Of Chaos: The Bloody Rise Of The Satanic Metal Underground (Book Review)
November 2001
Released: 1998, Feral House
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

I had to do at least one book review this month about a metal book that doesn’t suck! (See this months reviews of Stairway To Hell and The Virgin Encyclopedia of Heavy Rock).

I cannot say enough good things about this book! They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover..well… in this case, you probably could. The title is cool and attention grabbing and the picture is a beautiful photo of a church spire going up in flames framed against a stormy dusk sky. It’s not beautiful in the sense of I enjoy seeing ANY shrine, temple church, etc, being destroyed but it is a gorgeous visual representation of something most of us will hopefully never see, and it is extremely well done from a photography point of view. This is the part where I curse not having a scanner to show you the cover.

This is without a doubt the finest and most in depth, academic study of the phenomena of Black Metal. It is a truly fascinating read. The authors do extremely well not to praise or condemn but merely to accurately document the history of Black Metal. They have succeeded. Starting with a look at a history of occult imagery in rock music as far back as the 60’s the book follows a linear history of Satanism, occultism and paganism in rock and metal all the way up to the to late 90’s.

The book is extremely well researched and very, very thorough. The authors conduct many interviews with people like Samoth, Ihsahn, Bard Eithun, and numerous members of the Scandanavian Black Metal Scene. The highlight I felt was the incredible blow by blow (literally) detailed analysis about the murder of Oystein Aarseth (Aka Euronymous of Mayhem) by Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grisnachk of Burzum) A shocking and compelling chapter. The authors provided insightful analysis as to why perhaps, but without getting preachy. Chapter 6 simply entitled “Ashes” describes the wave upon wave of church burnings in Norway by members of the Black Metal scene. Other points include several interviews with members of bands (in and out of jail), about their views on race, religion mankind, heathenism, arson and murder.

There are dozens and dozens of excellent pictures, new clippings, drawings and a good appendix of key essays and news stories from Norway add to the academic credibility of such a study. At over 340 pages it was a pretty intense read. Fascinating, gruesome, horrifying and oddly compelling at the same time. It is a dark book and there are many descriptive graphic elements about murder and arson that may offend. Black Metal place in the history of music is secured by the acts of what amounts to a few dozen individuals that took a philosophy and lifestyle a bit too far bring fame and notoriety to what was once the smallest-sub-genre of all metal. This book is not only for Black Metal fans, but for all serious students of musical sub-culture, metal or otherwise.
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