Beste, Peter- Defenders Of The Faith (Book Review)

Spread the metal:

November 2019

Released: 2019

Publisher: Sacred Bones Books

Rating:  4/5

Reviewer:  JP

This month I reviewed a photographic visual history of Black Metal demo cassettes called ANALOGUE BLACK TERROR.  In that review I said it had to be one of the least colorful books about Metal in my library.  By stark contrast, this book, DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH has to the MOST colourful book about Metal in my library!

You may be familiar with Peter Beste, the photographer who presented us with  TRUE NORWEIGAN BLACK METAL, a collection of photos back in 2008. Feel free to read my review of that fine book as well.   Also look for my interview with Peter this month as well.

Beste worked on books in other genres and he has returned home to Metal with his latest book.This monster embossed hard cover is a generous 285 pages and features a foreword by Biff Byford of Saxon and an endorsement by the mighty Thor! It doesn’t get any more Metal than that!  Have you heard the term ‘battle vests’?    Even if you haven’t, if you have attended a Metal concert in the last 40 years you have seen one.  These are vests, mostly denim with patches sewn on them.  As simple as it sounds, there is a while world and style of these metallic battle vests.  They are more than just clothes.  They are a call to arms, a signifier, an identity, a statement of membership in a tribe called Metal.

Beste attended any number of Metal concerts and festivals and took pictures of these amazing works of art.  Earlier I alluded to colour.  The colour on these vests are simply incredible.  It’s like a rainbow barfed on a Metal festival. Outsiders say Metal is dark and grim; they have never been to a big European summer festival which are an explosion of colour.

Beste spent a considerable amount of time deciding on the format and sequence of events.  From the very first photo, the unmistakable presence of Fenriz, to the pages putting the spotlight on a certain band, to the amusing last shot, each tells a story.  Speaking of Fenriz, there are more than a few familiar faces scattered through the book as the musicians and band members themselves get featured, themselves, wearing exactly the same things as their fans…because they are fans.   The only minor complaint is that I would have liked a bit more of detailed analysis of the history and development of the battle vest, but there is a brief statement that touches on that.

As trite as it sounds, you don’t have to be a Metal fan to look at and appreciate this art book.  I showed it to a couple of my non-Metal friends (I do have one or two) and they seemed quite impressed by the scale and magnificence of it.  If you are a Metalhead, DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH will resonate even more deeply with you.