Blod, Eld, Död: En Svensk Metalhistoria (Blood, Fire, Death: A Swedish Metalhistory)

Blod, Eld, Död: En Svensk Metalhistoria (Blood, Fire, Death: A Swedish Metalhistory)

Writer: Ika Johannessen, Jon Jeffersson Klingberg, 2011
Publisher: Alfabeta Bokförlag / Pocketförlaget
Price: 286SEK (€30 / $35)

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Ok, this book has been out for more than three years already but that’s one of the finest things with History books; they never become out of date. Sure, the more recent part of history can be missing but they’re still often well worth the effort reading anyway. Anyone at least slightly interested in Brutal music should immediately draw the connecting line between one of the best Metal albums ever released and the title of this book. Sure, it is taken from BATHORY’s epic “Blood Fire Death” album, which can seem cheap but the book deserves the title.

The book picks the raisins out of Nordic Metal History, traveling down the left hand path turning towards the more brutal part of Metal History. It handles many different aspects of the genre, developing from Heavy Metal through Thrash to Death Metal, describing the scene with tape-trading, all major and minor fanzines existing at the time, then onwards towards the Black Metal age, that part of course is mainly focused on the western neighbor of Sweden, Norway and on the influential bands as MAYHEM, BURZUM and more. The book is divided into chapters addressing one part of the era, in time or style and everything is coming directly from the source. The stories from the ones who were in when the church-burnings and Black Metal murders started happening are from the ones present at the time. There is, for example Nicke Andersson talking about tape-trading and how the Stockholm Death Metal scene was born. Also, close friends and family of Pelle “Dead” Ohlin is telling the story of his life and death. That same story raises speculations of what really happened and what type of guy Oysten “Euronymous” Aarseth really was, a manipulative business driven preacher really, taking advantages of Pelle’s destiny. It is kind of sick when you think about it, but the scene was extreme and this was just one event.

The section of BATHORY is one of the most interesting in this book, doubtless. The band was mysterious when active and how the whole thing was managed is great. It was years and years after their first release it was clear that Börje “Boss” Forsberg actually was Quorthon’s (Ace Forsberg) dad. On all occasions the relation described has always been record company and band. Also the part about DISSECION, the interviews with Jon Nödtveidt about the band history and also his philosophy is one of the best parts of the book. Knowing what happened after the interviews and his implications stated in the “Blod, Eld, Död” book makes it like a true horror movie. It’s always fascinating to read about people with extreme interest and extreme habits. And that is the red thread through this book, the bands that set the standard some 20 odd years ago. What the standards were and what was right, how to classify into the group. Common for all is that they have a very good way of expressing their lifestyle and philosophy and that it’s almost impossible to get these guys off balance. The stories are very fascinating, and seeing people as devoted as described in the book to the gore and art connected with some bands (like WATAIN, NIFELHEIM, DISSECTION and more) I can’t help but being captivated by it.

Also, it is clear that this book is written by real journalists (Ika Johannesson and Jon Jefferson Klingberg), the storyline is good and so is the language. The thing that can annoy me a bit on occasion is small explanations about a certain band, event or genre etc. which for me feels so redundant. But ok, I’ve been into this music, listening and reading about it for decades. Perhaps not all are in the same situation and then of course, these instructional parts are a necessity. But apart from this the book is great. I’m not sure it’s available in other languages than Swedish as of now though, if not someone should take it on to translate it because it is very fascinating reading. Translating the thoughtful words from the interviewees can’t be the easiest thing to do though.

+Pros Information directly from the source and great in-depth interviews with people in the scene when it happened.

-Cons The annoying little instructions that explain certain details in the book