Only Death Is Real

Only Death Is Real

Writers: Tom Gabriel Fischer, Martin Eric Ain, 2010
Publisher: Bazillion Points
List Price: n/a (the second edition is currently under print)

There are many biographies out there, presenting a band’s or a musician’s adventures towards success. Usually these stories are filled with all kinds of shenanigans full of drugs and ridiculous amounts of alcohol. Sometimes while reading these narrations, I got the impression that is good to drink this or inject that and have a story of survival to tell. But what about music? I mean, there is usually little information about how a band’s music character was forged being focused only on these adventures. And there are books like “Only Death Is Real” where everything is presented as it is without sugar-coating or bragging about how one survived… Tom Gabriel Fischer and his HELLHAMMER wingman Martin Eric Ain opened their hearts out - especially Tom - presenting their path of self-exploration and music experimentation.

The story starts in Zurich with Tom struggling through his childhood (no, there are no drugs included or girl stories) trying to solidify his character and way of thinking almost self-taught. Before sinking your teeth into this story, you have to keep always in mind that everything happened during the ‘80s. And this means no internet! Try to put yourself in such a position that nothing is available in a click-distance. Yeah, there was no downloading, or I’ll check their website or what ever fast-food way we follow nowadays to get our music. So, in the outskirts of Zurich a couple of teenagers discovered music and embraced it as a way to get out of the disturbing norms, express themselves and follow the path of bands from the NWOBHM and, of course, VENOM. The storyline is chronologically set presented in black-colored background and awesome glossy paper. There are many photos inside but almost all of them are not professionally done and that’s the beauty of it. You’ll get the chance to see GRAVE HILL in rehearsal and fell the dedication and passion of Tom to become equal to his heroes. What I found shocking is the degree of honesty in Tom’s writing and having the chance to meet him in person two years ago, I guarantee that this is the real thing.

HELLHAMMER as a band knew nothing about the impact in the music scene and how the metalheads have connected their name with VENOM. Mentioning the legendary British band, I have to mention how Tom confronted the band during a conference. I won’t describe this here but take my word on this; it’s a great story. There are also contributions from other members of HELLHAMMER increasing the level of how real and down-to-earth this feels. The black color dominates the pages, representing in the best way the struggle but also the determination of these youngsters as the fanzines were killing them in every album review.

I really don’t want to spoil the joy of reading these black-colored pages and getting a glimpse behind the curtain that often hides different stories than those we hear nowadays. Don’t get me wrong but I think the Rock star­ stories often get revised and in some occasions rewritten. But there is no such thing in “Only Death Is Real” and you will get the real thing reading this lines. The only problem I had as the CELTIC FROST was unfolding is the sudden ending, even though there is a decent number of pages after that. I hope this sudden ending implies another book, but still it comes rather abrupt. On the other side, the following pages are full of pics, press releases and logo artwork by Tom. It’s great watching the legendary CELTIC FROST logo being shaped.

I think the first pressing is out of print but you can wait a little for a second one that will hit the stores soon. This is one of the best band biographies I have come across with an awesome black-soaked format, able to grace your book collection (don’t think of getting this in a digital form).


+Pros Great writing, great photo collection and honest narration that is so rare to find.

-Cons Sudden ending that leaves the reader searching for more.