Released: 2014, Verlag Weises Licht
Many people look to Chuck Schuldiner to be the founder of Death Metal, and while it would be hard to argue against that, I’ve always felt that Paul Speckmann does not get nearly enough credit in his role in the creation of Death Metal. I read years ago that a journalist called Speckmann the ‘Grand-daddy’ of Death (being four years older than Chuck) and that always stuck with me and I’ve always had a soft spot for Master. I doubt that Speckmann would really care about these types of labels, accolades and bragging rights, but I for one an extremely glad he has decided to publish his autobiography, of sorts.
His new autobiography is titled, SPECKMANN:UNDERGROUND SURVIVOR-THE PICTORIAL and it is important to take note of the full title, especially ‘The Pictorial’. This book is not your conventional text/script based autobiography with a few glossy plates of photos in the middle, this is more like a mega-monster, coffee table art book. At 190 pages this hardbound book is beautiful. The cover is some sort of embossed sliver alligator or snakeskin design that instantly catches your eye. I’ve seem some nice jacket designs before but this is amazing the silver and black contrast, the simple but elegant design…you might think it is almost TOO good for Death Metal!
This book is loaded with art and photos from across Speckmann’s career, some professional, some candid, some family, some live shots, some working shots and everything in between. There is a short amount of narrative laced through the book, touching on key highlights from his long career from his earliest bands in 1980 to today. In fact, some die-hard Speckmann fans might consider the book to be a bit thin on actual written content (Trivia, facts, dates etc) but thankfully this is one of a two-part project where there will be a more text-based autobiography to accompany this illustrated history.
The pictures are big and bold on glossy paper, I think I got a contact high just sniffing the ink on the pages! This is the kind of book you have to own a real copy not just a digital version on a tablet. It even includes the little bookmark tassel things in the middle to keep your page! The pictures and art range from across the ages and across the world and across his career. It is divided into seven chapters in chronological order. There are shots of his early bands (Warcry & Haymaker) playing, as well as shots of Krabathor in Japan, Master in Mexico and Abomination In America. The design and layout are all very visually striking.
One highlight for the collector is a massive discography called, ‘Opera Collectaneum: Complete Works’. Instead of just a list, there is a picture of each release, over 50 of them, including all the regional licenses and reissues; it’s incredibly comprehensive. It was brave of him to also include a section called ‘Private Life’ including some wedding photos, pictures of his home and family. It is very rare for a ‘rock star’ to do this so it was nice to have an intimate glimpse into his life offstage.
SPECKMANN UNDERGROUND SURVIVOR in my mind serves several purposes. It’s helps give a glimpse into the life of Paul Speckmann, serve as his life story as well as perhaps educate and enlighten people how important he has been in the extreme Metal world. It achieves all these goals and as well as being enormously entertaining, the presentation, graphics, layout and design are all of extremely high quality. I can’t wait to read his next autobiography but until that time, I would easily recommend this to any extreme Metal fan and essential for all fans of Paul Speckmann and his distinguished career as an underground survivor.