There are thousands of publications about Metal but the regional/genre category is one of the most specialized and the most rare. In the last 40 years you can list books about a regional genre on two hands. There are three books on Swedish Death Metal, a book on Finnish Death Metal, a book about Finnish Black Metal, a couple of books about the NWOBHM and a handful more but that it is it. Accordingly, there is an enormous amount of room for expansion and I fully expect to see more books like this enter the market. One of the latest examples is TODESSEHNSUCHT:LONGING FOR DEATH.
German Death Metal is the topic of this massive book and I do mean massive at over 400 pages long! The sub-title is ‘When Death Metal Conquered Germany’ and it is written by extreme Metal veteran and fan, Andreas Hertkorn. You may recognize him not only as the former vocalist of Cartilage but as the author of several other fine tomes about extreme Metal.
Hertkorn is also the founder of the Seven Metal Inches empire; publisher and record label and this is his fourth book. It was published last year in German and now it is available in English. The quality is always good and TODESSEHNSUCHT is no exception. The cover art is an original piece created by Axel Hermann, the artist known for many classic Death Metal album covers such Grave, Asphyx, Entombed and Morgoth. He came out of retirement and created this unique piece in the classic style just for the book. Old Death Metal fans will recognize the title from the Atrocity album, an early example of German Death Metal.
The book is a coffee-table sized book, soft-cover printed on glossy paper. It also comes with a book mark and some stickers which is always a nice extra bonus. In his introduction Hertkorn says that the fine book EXTREMITY RETAINED by Jason Netherton was an inspiration point for him. Feel free to read my review of Netherton’s book on this site as well. The one distinct advantage that TODESSEHNSUCHT has is that it is full colour. It is glorious. It is far more of a visual history than many of it’s contemporaries. Certainly many of the old Death Metal demos, flyers and so on were in black and white but as time went on, it was all in colour and this book captures many fantastic images.
I’ve chatted a lot about the book itself but what about the actual content? Well that too is magnificent. Hertkorn provides a long and insightful introduction into the method behind his madness. The book is divided into nine chapters broad topics such as the origins of the scene, media, the record labels, concerts and then it dives into great detail in each. There are countless interviews with the people who were there, musicians, fans, industry people, the media and more. The book is logically divided into geographic sections and each area gets a full and in-depth examination about which bands, clubs, rehearsal spaces, and media exist(ed) in that area. We also keep in mind in the early days of the scene the nation was not yet unified! The amount of detail is astonishing! TODESSEHNSUCHT is full immersion into that scene.
Oddly enough German Death Metal, internationally, is not that well-regarded in comparison to Swedish or American Death Metal. Hertkorn recognizes this and fully admits it. How many iconic German Death Metal bands are there? A handful to be sure but despite Germany being a touring stronghold, home to many great labels, (Century Media and Nuclear Blast, Noise) and even the nation that can legitimately lay claim to first using the term ‘Death Metal’, (Noise Records, NR 006, 1984), the number of lasting legacy bands from Germany was relatively small. TODESSEHNSUCHT recognizes this and strives to uncover all the great unsung bands that never quite made it. This is a masterwork on all levels. This sets the standard and all other future nation specific publications can look to LONGING FOR DEATH as an example of how to do the job well.