Released: 2011, Knight Romance Publishing
I’ve always maintained that Broken Hope always had some of the best Death Metal lyrics. While Cannibal Corpse gained more notoriety from album covers and song titles, I always felt that Broken Hope’s lyrics were a step above. From songs like ‘Pitbull Grin’, ‘Erotic Zoophilism’, ‘Bag Full Of Parts’, and the timeless classic, ‘Hobo Stew’, the wordplay was always interesting and innovative in the depiction of horror and gore, than those lyrics of a standard shock-value Death Metal band. This was largely in part to the writing of Jeremy Wagner, the bands primary lyricist. After the unfortunate demise of Broken Hope, Wagner turned his efforts to writing horror fiction and quickly gained a strong reputation in the underground horror community. He has just released his debut book, THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD.
THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD, I believe is only the second piece of ‘Metal fiction’ to be written and published, following Michael De Los Muertos’s novel from 2000, FIRE, METAL, BLOOD AND MONEY. I’m calling it ‘Metal fiction’ because the entire framework for the novel is set in the modern world of Heavy Metal. Whereas FIRE, METAL, BLOOD AND MONEY was a straight-up murder mystery, THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD bends horror and Metal into one excellent blend. It’s not quite Sci-Fi or Fantasy in the traditional sense but it does have horror fiction components, which have been the hallmark of Metal lyrics since the dawn of time, namely Feb 13th, 1970. TAC is a good looking book, nice big font making it’s 254 pages look longer than it actually is. It’s easy and fun to read and comes with an oversized Armageddon Chord pick, which after reading the book I was afraid to use.
The story is simple but engaging, a tale of a rockstar who is tricked into committing evil acts and is eventually given the choice to become redeemed or enslaved. I’m not going to get into an extensive plot analysis; evil corporations, hired goons, corrupt managers, missing (and presumed dead) rockstars, mysterious strangers giving warnings, ancient Egyptian entities and more. There is plenty of violence, horror and a smattering of sex to keep it spicy.
The key to this books success is the clever and accurate depiction of the Metal lifestyle. Wagner should know, he has lived the Metal dream while in Broken Hope. Experienced (ie. older) Metal fans will recognize that many of the characters are hybrids of real people. For example, the ruthless, greedy, corrupt but efficient manager, Rod Yaggerwood is clearly a blend of Don Arden, Doc McGhee and of course Rod Smallwood. The main character, Kirk Vaisto seems to be a Steve Vai kinda guy, with alien-like guitar powers…get it, Vai…Vaisto? Only Metal fans would get it. The book is loaded with insider stuff like that.
Wagner references many real people and places like Yngwie Malmsteen and the Rainbow Bar & Grill, giving his story more credibility and realism. Much of it is firmly rooted in reality making the story all the more engaging. With the actual fictional components, Wagner has some fun and his clever and witty writing shines through dropping band names like Cardinal Slynn, Plowing Suzy, Armoured Darlings and Snothole! Who says all the good band names in the real world are taken?
THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD horror themes really get fired up near the climax, and Wagner’s vivid depictions of death, horror and gore are among the finest. This book should be made into a feature length movie, the finale alone would be worth the price of admission. It would be a hell of a lot better than the movie ‘Metal God’…I mean ‘Rockstar’.
The first time I found out about this book, I read a really negative, condescending (almost mean-spirited) review of THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD in the local, indie hipster newspaper and I figured to myself, “If those guys hate it, I’ll love it and most Metal fans will too”. I’m glad I trusted my instincts and read this book, because it’s a great story. Finally some fiction written by a Metal fan, for Metal fans.