The ultimate guide to Swedish Death Metal. Meticulous, and well researched. Sets the standard for any regional/genre histories to come.
After hearing the skull-crushingly good Interment album INTO THE CRYPTS OF BLASPHEMY, which I reviewed last month, (November, 2010) I felt it was high time I wrote a review of Daniel Ekeroth’s triumphant book, SWEDISH DEATH METAL. Originally released in 2006 and updated and upgraded for 2008 this is one of the early releases for the now mighty Bazillion Points Metal Publishing empire. It was a wise choice to pick up this title and reissue it to a wider audience.
Like it’s namesake, this is a monster book at a whopping 440+ pages. It is visually interesting as well with hundreds of photos flyers, and album covers. The photos range from intimate to live shots to publicity stills as well. There is a 35-page appendix of black and white flyers as well. Despite the lack of colour it is quite a thing of beauty to behold.
Another fantastic feature is the 118-page A-Z Encyclopedia of Swedish Death Metal bands with a ‘deathography’ and a brief personal comment on each band from the author. On top of that there is a bibliography of Swedish Death Metal fanzines with art! This book is incredibly well researched and amazingly comprehensive. Last of all but not least there is a ‘where are they now’ feature that briefly documents the current activities of the 60 or so key players in the development of the scene. These three features are enough to purchase the book and I haven’t even commented on the main section yet!
The book starts with the usual preface, intro and a nice forward by Chris Reifert. He seems an odd choice to write the forward but his enthusiasm is infectious. Into the book proper we get a very brief history of Death Metal and then into a brief explanation of Swedish Metal up to that point. Followed is a succinct explanation of the punk influence on the area and scene, before really getting into the meat of the topic. I had no idea of the breadth of the Swedish punk scene having always associated Metal’s own in-bred cousin with UK and Southern California skate culture.
The next five chapters and couple hundred pages chronicle the development of Swedish Death Metal in incredible detail with many, many quotes and first hand accounts all laced with photos. Ekeroth also discusses the industry, retail environment, studios, gigs and of course the bands. Chapter 9 talks about black Metal and it’s impact on the scene and Chapter 10 summarizes the current state of affairs. The bulk of the book concentrates on the classic era from the early/mid eighties to about 1993. Reading this book makes you realize how large the scene was for just a few short years with hundreds of bands emerging from a relatively small area.
Metal sub-genres or movements have oddly enough developed in fairly regionalized, insular scenes (the NWOBHM, Norwegian Black Metal etc) before growing internationally. I would not be surprised that if, in the near future, there are many more very specific regionalized Heavy Metal histories. I can see them now, a book on the Florida Death Metal scene, a book about the Gothenburg scene, a book on the Italian Symphonic Metal scene and so on. There is a lot of room to explore. Ekeroth’s book is and likely will remain the definitive guide and history of Swedish Death Metal.