I love black metal in all its aspects. It has not ceased to amaze me this far. Extreme metal in itself is a rich outlet, with art, image and philosophy always intertwined with the art itself. No one documents that better than Cult Never Dies in a stunning series of books and merchandise.
Recently the organization moved in new directions, to make products that don’t directly fall in the original line of books about black metal that they’ve been releasing. Since I normally write about the books I read in particular book blogs (here, here, here and here) (and here too). I felt that these new releases deserved to have their own little bit on Stranger Aeons, so here’s to the latest writings of Cult Never Dies/Dayal Patterson.
Dayal Patterson – Owls, Trolls & Dead King’s Skulls: The Art Of David Thiérrée
This book is an art book with a biography of a remarkable artist. David Thiérré is a craftsman, who works with a sense of reality and almost tangible eye for detail. His works are very well known and respected in the extreme metal world, but to just place him under that banner does little justice to his creativity. Thiérré seems to breathe life into nature, the way folklore and old tales do. It’s only logical that by 2017 his work appeared in a book form, presented to those who love and embrace the otherworldly quality of his work.
Cult Never Dies is well known for the metal-related productions, but this is a new venture and a daring one at that. Not only is the metal community a niche in itself, when you add the filter of art to the mix, you’re bringing something that might not find the broad appeal you’d hope. But that’s exactly what Cult Never Dies has been doing, capturing a scene that defies definition and putting it to paper, boldly presenting it to the world. The work of David Thiérré has a similar mythical quality and to capture it, without choking the life out of the gentle pencil strokes and layered washes of paint shows mastery on the publishing end as well.
The book contains the story of the artist. It’s not full of drama, but it gives in insight into the connective tissue that binds Thiérré to his art. A feeling of what meaning and love go into it. This book should not be missing from your book shelves
Sven Erik ‘Maniac’ Kristiansen – Ultra Damaged: Damage Inc. Zine Anthology 1987-2017
Before Maniac became one of the most feared and insane live frontmen the world has ever seen, he was mainly a massive music geek. Yeah, sure… back then we didn’t call it that, but this production clearly shows his massive love and passion for extreme music displayed for the world to see. Probably a bit surprising to many people actually, but the man knows his Japanese hardcore, underground black and death and much more. Only two editions of his Ultra Damaged zine came out back in the eighties, but specially for this release they have become available once more. Maniac is also starting his zine anew, with a love for the physical product and the handwork that goes into it.
In Cult Never Dies it seems that old zine makers have found a company that can put this together as a cool product, relevant in todays age of internet fluidity. Reading this zine, you become aware of the peculiar beginnings of black metal. The music is not known as such yet it seems, by the choice of words by Maniac. He talks about music that is evil, brutal and insane, with an uncanny passion. The interviews are not overly polished, the language is often riddled with mistakes, but the pure passion behind it is tangible. What I like most is how you really trace the development of something new and exciting through the words of Maniac and their ever subtle shift from zine 1 to zine 2. These zines are not high literature, but pure chunks or original black metal passion and history.
Exciting news, there’s two new titles available. A combination of zines, titled Ultimate Darkness and the amazing Doom Metal Lexicanium by AlekseyEvdokimov.
These things don’t just happen, they take a lot of work and investment. If you’re excited about this (as I am), make sure to grab some of these titles or maybe a cool new t-shirt (great quality, trust me). Keep the cult alive!
So, another series of books devoured, this time Bernie Sanders, Matt Taibbi, John Scalzi and Dayal Patterson’s work was in my sights.
Bernie Sanders – Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In
I became aware of Bernie Sanders quite late during the campaign, but something about this Vermont senator struck me quite soon. It’s that unabashed honesty, hard-working mentality and no crap attitude of the man that truly humbles anyone who follows what he does. Bernie is not for sale and Bernie genuinely worries about the people he represents. This book is therefor not some hollow rhetoric by an establishment politician. I would even argue that Bernie might nog have even put his face on the cover if he could avoid it. Sanders wanted to talk about issues, about change and about a grassroots movement that was looking for something new. This is something rather close to my own politics and I felt strong affinity to the Sanders campaign after reading this.
The book is part diary, where Sanders really describes his own experiences and life in a rather sober manner, the way the man is when asked about himself. Sanders focusses on his politics, even when its persona and that makes him such a specific specimen. He rarely pats himself on the shoulder and when he does, he always includes others. It’s a pleasant read of a straight talk politician. The other half is his politicas and vision, so a more manifesto like article. In this part Sanders also takes all the time to really explain those views in detail. I’ve had bad hopes for the future, but the succes of Bernie’s campaign, the grassroots movement and these good ideas make me feel that we can sort it all out. A great book for those interested in finding out more about what is happening in the United States among real people. Worth your time for sure.
John Scalzi – Redshirts
Imagine that you are living your life the way you feel it should go, only to realise that all of it was leading up to the inevitable and horrible death of you in a situation that screams irrationality. Imagine that you realise that going on a mission with the officers of your star ship leads to an almost certain death. Well, that’s pretty much the world that the characters of Redshirts live in. It is surprising that when officers come in looking for members to go on a ‘away team’, a lot of the crew disappears. That is not even the weirdest stuff that happens, There’s even a box that goes ping and solves complex, scientific mysteries. It only works in the nick of time though, as if to provide Dramatic effect. A very peculiar situation indeed.
This is an interesting and highly entertaining read by Scalzi. A group of redshirts realise that they are… redshirts. It creates a strange series of stories, where reality becomes the most trivial part. Real or not real, people are dying because of bad script writing. That is the main theme of the book, but the way Scalzi takes that and runs with it is just amazing. The characters really become real and every cliché is present in a hilarious journey. What I liked best about this book is actually the added parts, where characters from the story reiterate their experiences from their perspectives. It leads to philosophical, but also very human passages, that show science fiction is more than just fun and still holds interesting aspects for our reality. This is by far one of the most fun books I’ve read in a while, so this is indeed highly recommended.
Dayal Patterson – Cult Never Dies: The Mega Zine
I was a bit puzzled by this choice to do a Mega Zine, for a bunch of reasons. First of, the word magazine always makes something more contemporary, more fleeting and less urgent, where I like that Patterson works on a continuous series of works on documenting extreme metal. Secondly, it results in a cover that looks less fitting in my collection. Now, after having read it I also have to say that it really downplays the fact that is is very close related to the previous titles. Actually it’s a great addition with bands that simply don’t fit the regular categories you imagine with the black metal genre. In this book Patterson interviews some of the most peculiar groups from the grand and intriguing black metal scene.
Interesting fact is that the author adds other interviewers to this book, doing the work he’s pursuing with more knowledge and experience with certain bands. It makes the titanic work of documenting the scene more managable, but creating a matching format and form of expression does become more daunting. There are no problems with that though in this book, with bands lik Reverend Bizarre and Slegest to the strange organ sounds of Lychgate. The includees in this book do feel slightly random, but it’s what you get with the strange and the weird. Another great book for the lovers of the dark and heavy music genre.
Matt Taibbi – Insane Clown President
It seems like an easy title, but Matt Taibbi really followed the tornado of madness that ravaged America in 2016. Taibbi is a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, who has indeed been on the bus during the elections in the United States. Watching the burning car wreck of a result that this created, Taibbi looks back at those elections and gives his critique, but not without taking part of the blame himself as member of the writing press, who are definitely part of the rise of Trump thanks to their hungry camera lenses and continuous interest in the most maddening campaign the elections in the States have ever seen. Taibbi looks at the history of writing in the political business, of media attention and previous campaigns to find out about a disturbing path that all of this has been following for a long, long time.
It was never jus about Trump, it was about the victory of the spectacle over content. Outrage triumphing over decency and one-liners before truth. It’s a monumental power switch from the elite to the uneducated, the disenfranchised… People picking instead of a sort of semi-decent system, a completely abyssal insanity as their future. Why the fuck did Trump appeal to these people? Well, he definitely didn’t charm them alone, he was the most remorseless, insane and outrages candidate of 16 terrible options. This book is filled with great essays about different stages in the electoral proces, which are filled with venom and wit from experienced writer Taibbi. It’s the postmortem of the American dream, the end of equality and the start of the white nationalist dark ages. God save us all from the clown car’s master… but worse, from ourselves. This book is really for you, if you like the black humor of the time and age we live in. Enjoy.
In this 20th edition of books that I read, which is quite a few over time, I’m discussing Dayal Patterson, R.A. Salvatore (again), Gene Simmons and Marco Martens, who all wrote cool books that I enjoyed.
Dayal patterson – Black Metal: Into The Abyss Cult Never Dies Productions
I’m a huge fan of the work by Dayal Patterson, who manages to captivate the black metal scene in his own unique way. Name it scholarly or even ethnographic at times, the man lives and breathes black metal and manages to track down the most reclusive strangers for brilliant interviews. It sometimes seems that the weirder you think they are, the more normal they seem in retrospect. In this edition of the series, Dayal digs up some old bones in Poland for example, finding the roots of that strange black metal scene and continues to search for answers.
I’ve mentioned part of the Polish scene that gets attention in this book, but more or less the outsiders like Stigmata, Furia and others. Another element are the Norwegian bands of the latter generation, that return to a more purist approach, like 1349 and One Tail, One Head. The best part is how open Patterson gets to talk to some of these artists, of which some never did an interview before. It opens up a scene that has been shrouded in mystery and trust me… It doesn’t take away any of the magic.
Gene Simmons – KISS and Make up Crown Publishing
Gene Simmons is an enigma, a character larger than life and hated and reviled as much as he is loved and praised. Gene is a straight shooter and always speaks the truth. No surprise then, that his book details his humble beginnings with as much detail as his later sexual adventures, poverty, riches and glamour. It also features a lot of history of Kiss that before was hidden behind the paint and more or less a mystery. We’ve moved on to a time where things have aged enough for some of the truth to come out. After the accusing books by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, the book of Simmons feels much less cool and more raw and honest.
Why does that matter? Because for example Frehley, whose book I read, is glorifying his own behavior most of the time and rarely speaks with any warmth of the bandmembers he shared the stage with. Specially Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are depicted as money grubbing monsters, regardles of the fact that Gene Simmons saved his life. Simmons seems to lament the path of the others and speaks as candidly about his own failings and shortcomings, even insecurities and such as about others. This is a book of a sober man, who is honest, but that’s my opinion. It also is a really kick ass story, isn’t it?
R.A. Salvatore – The Sellswords (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, Road of the Patriarch)
It’s surprisingly nice sometimes to take a side step in a long series, and so it is with the Forgotten Realms ‘Legend Of Drizzt’. In the short series titled ‘The Sellswords’ we focus on the characters of Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle. Two oppertunists, who venture to a new land to reap the fruits of whoevers labour after daring conflicts with the mercenary bands Bregan D’arte. It’s a great bit of reading and a completely different kind of adventure with more depth and knowledge about the characters you might loathe or secretly love already by this point and will get to know and understand much better by the time you finish.
During the first part, Jarlaxle gets challenged for his leadership of Bregan D’Arte, so he has to flee with Entreri. During their flight they meet up with Cadderly (who has met Drizzt and company before, but is known from the Cleric Quartet). In the second part we fnd the duo in the Bloodstone lands, fighting with, alongside and against King Gareth Dragonsbane in an attempt to gain riches while doing rightious things (known from the Bloodstone Pass series from the eighties). In the final part we travel to Memnon with Artemis Entreri to find his past and illuminate the merciless killer he has become, where we will find something new and surprising in the character. A lovely journey for the reader.
Marco Martens – Rubberboot
It’s only a little booklet, but in it we find stories that are recognizable and funny, sometimes touching and familiar. Marco Martens used to be active in hiphop and now in a sort of spoken word setting. Poetry is also part of this short bundle. An enjoyable, though brief read that you can probably still pick up somewhere if you’re lucky. If not, than you don’t.
Marco Martens is a talented writer and story teller. This book is a small display of his talents, but I hope it won’t be his last endeavour in the written word. Like his record ‘Ieder Huis Is Uit Vertrekken Gebouwd’ (out on Bastaard Platen), his writing is a mixture of humor, nostalgia and grief, all packed up into a nice cocktail that sticks. You can read it here.
I read some game books from Warcraft written by Christie Golden, Greg Keyes’ Elder scrolls novel and another one of Dayal Pattersons black metal histories.
Christie Golden – Arthas: Rise of the Lich King
Sure, you’re not getting high literature with the Warcraft books, definitely not if they are supposed to clean up a bit of the past and connect a previous game to the World of Warcraft ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ storyline. If you did not play Warcraft III, this book adds to your experience. If you did, this is the plaster in the wall for you and I can’t deny truly enjoying the gaps filling up and in fact replaying the Arthas storyline in Warcraft III at the same time. What a great game…
What is true is that the author really takes the time for the gaps and therefor leaves little room for describing the in-game events, specially towards the end. It feels like a sudden sprint to the Frozen Throne (you know what I’m talking about) through Ahzjol-Nerub in just a few pages. Remember that first target reader, for that reader this is very bad reading material, because sense it makes none. There’s also a symbolic element in the story, that never really comes to fruition. Christie Golden is a great writer, but even though this was highly succesful, I believe she could have done better. Still, well worth reading and almost required for the lore-lovers.
Gregory Keyes – Lord of Souls
Since the Elder Scrolls book I read the other time was part one, I guess it only makes sense that I continued with part II. I think it was dragging out the adventure a bit too long, because I go very dishearthened at some point and reading it didn’t seem as much fun anymore. Still, I did continue it and sadly the end of this was also not what I expected.
I normally try to say quite a bit about a book, but in this part the story just continues. You’d expect to find a good reason why the story is split into two books, but that never really seems to make sense. There’s not more depth to the key players, no new additions to speak of and basically just a long stretch of wrapping up the story in a rather clumsy way. I guess my fanboyism is not great enough for this.
Christie Golden – The Shattering: Prelude To Cataclysm
Since I quit playing WoW during the great years of Wrath of the Lich King, I never got to experience the Cataclysm content in its prime. I in fact skipped this whole part in favor of playing other things, doing other things and working. That being said, I know that Cata was an expansion with a lot of lore invested in it. This book by Christie Golden is part of that build-up, reading it in hindsight might be a bit disappointing, but still worth it.
I always lack the same things in the novels by Golden, I miss a certain amount of action and character depth. There’s a lot of expressions and inner monologues, but it always stays on the surface. Even the blossoming romance between Thrall (Go’el) and Agra is in a way never going deeper (only through ceremony a sort of spiritual expansion is mastered). That being said, the book offers an intriguing build-up to what was about to happen in game, which could also be found in Night of the Dragon. Is it a real addition? Not really and it bums me that the death of one main character becomes such a footnote in the history of Warcraft.
Dayal Patterson – Prelude to the Cult
Though this is not a real big read, I felt it was worth mentioning. In his histories of black metal Dayal Patterson found room to gather up some of his nicest interviews for an appendix piece of those. It’s a really cool read and still rather recent material. It gives some more depth to elements in the books and allows the artists to share some words themselves. This is a well worth addition for anyone rading the stories about this nocturnal cult.
If you are keen on this, please visit their website and buy your copy straight from the makers. Support this awesome project. Thanks.
I dislike the idea of anything being hipster. Unfortunately that means I’ve become victim to the hipster virus, where anything gaining popularity demands you to look onto others as hipsters.
Any semi-homogenous crowd, except that on the weekly market, that seems to conform to any fashion/aesthetic standards that are slightly popular is nowadays dubbed hipster. Fashioncore was the equivalent in the hardcore/metalcore corner. It seems to be the origin of the hipster curse for the heavy underground. At first you were fake or real (or trve if you’re more into the black metal section). Hipster sounds slightly better than fake, but no one will ever call themselves a hipster.
The term hipster has been the topic of discussion on many levels. In 2008 one magazine declared this to be the dead end of western civilization (a nice reference to the Spheeris films), by becoming an aesthetic vacuum in the counter culture. Some sources, like NY Mag seemd to have lost the plot totally in 2010 and Rob Horning suggested the death of the hipster in 2009. Around that time, the turning point seems to have arrived: the hipster was a demon, taking away the particular from our favorite elements of counter cultural rebellion. At the same time it became an aesthetic, a way to define what was basically just current fashion and trend when applied to an alternative image. Hipsters still provide an outlet for an alternative-styled elitism (like NOFX even demonstrated) and a scape goat, even by the Guardian.
I certainly don’t feel I’m a hipster, but I do have one of those single-speed bikes, fashionable boots and I tend to wear the flanel shirts, which I guess I’ve been doing since the late nineties (I was too young for the grunge hype). I’m not into the more hip alternative stuff though, don’t go to the right parties and rarely hang out in coffee bars (though I love coffee, but then again, I did for half my life). I did recently figure out that I do listen to some of the wrong bands in the heavy alternative spectrum. Not the fashioncore of hardcore, I listen to the true stuff there and my Black Flag tattoo is big enough to show it ain’t a ‘once upon a time, while sipping my vegan late’ thing. I was listening to hipster metal bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, Krallice, Deafheaven and Altar of Plagues.
The metal subculture has always been obsessed with being genuine, authentic as Kahn-Harris (2007) is keen to point out in his book. There’s an almost fundamentelistic nature to the more extreme genres and for none it’s as strong as that of black metal. Honestly, to describe a genre so remote from anything mainstream as ‘hipster’ seems to be certainly far fetched, but it is true… And it has some definite roots according to black metal scholar Dayal Patterson (2013), who starts the history of post-blackmetal with Lifelover. Bands that take a new approach to the genre and changing it, challenging its norms.
The origins of the term are a bit vague, but to me postrock, post-metal and so even post-blackmetal are styles that take a different approach to the core aesthetics of the respective genres and taking inspiration from others. The focus is more on dynamics, repetition and timbre, moving away from the traditional style. Ironically, the same thing happened when black metal moved towards the SDBM or DSBM style (Depressed Suicidal Black Metal), which has always been accepted. Stylistically, they are not so different. On the other hand, bands like Manes, Fleurety and even Arcturus could be seen as an affront to the conservative element in the scene, but apparently they’re fine.
True Traitor, True Whore
Yes, the Leviathan album title seems to be apt to come to the true traitor of black metal (in the eyes of some). Leviathan is true, though I’m not sure how his (it’s after all Jeff Whitehead’s one man band) ‘Scar Sighted’ goes down with part of the crowd. “Why not?”, you may ask. Well, because the record pushes out the boundaries of the genre, it changes the aesthetic approach and that is exactly why a band like Deafheaven is so reviled by the purists. In an AP article on the hipster metal phenomenon, they are the first band to be mentioned. Now, why are they the great Judas, the Varg Vikernes in the story of true and false black metal? (you know, like the band that did everything wrong, like Burzum, who are now also kinda hip).
The album cover
Deafheaven in all their infernal badness, their disregard for all that is trve and kvlt, released an album with a pinkish cover. PINK! In a genre that wishes to shock and cause controversy, this is just pushing it one step too far (for the scene itself apparently).
The music is not grimdark frostbitten cold
There’s a big myth about the early black metal bands and the necro sound. The idea is that this was the true (sorry, trve?) sound, but it basically was due to money and resources. Many current albums have great production, though perhaps retaining more of the cold sound usually. Still, you can hardly call the last two Enslaved albums unaccesible thanks to a more open polish.
Too many shoegazes and postrocks
Yeah, there is a whole subgenre called eatmospheric black metal, which utilizes the same techniques, just like the ambient black metal genre, but Deafheaven sounds almost pleasant. Anyone ever listened to Woods Of Desolation or A Forest of Stars. Even Winterfylleth retains some warmth and dreamy aspects in their sound. Anyways, the fucking problem is that this album does not sound like either ‘A Blaze In The Northern Sky’, nor as ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’. Shame on you! But seriously, the genre has such a rich range of sounds, why refuse to change?
The band doesn’t like/isn’t/hates/can’t be metal
The dumbest argument for hating Deafheaven is that somehow they would not be metal. Play this album for your mom and see how she feels about that. Well, my mom probably digs it so I’m not sure if that’s representative, but this band is totally a metal band. The fact that they might listen to other music, as said in this interview, doesn’t take anything away from that.
They don’t look metal
A lot of bands don’t do. What is looking like metal exactly? Isn’t that the complete form of conformism that metal despises? I have no clue what, apart from the obligatory preference for black (check for Deafheaven) and the bandshirts (check again) would compromise a metal outfit. It sure as hell isn’t spandex and corpse paint any more, who the hell still does that?
So yeah, Deafheaven isn’t like the past five decades of metal, just like any band from the nineties didn’t look like the eighties nor sounded like it. Maybe it’s an entry level band for kids looking for something more dense and mysterious, which you may find in black metal. Does that make them bad? The black metal fans who trade cassettes of which only 5 are released from bands using My First Sony equipment are few and not even touched by this kind of audience. Wouldn’t it be cool though if you could release 10 cassettes?
Kick in the arse of stale elitism
Why all this fuss about an album that came out a year ago? Well, that is true. ‘Sunbather, may its infernal name be wiped from the histories, has been out for a year or so. The thing is that the band just released a new song and the hipster metal debate is in full swing again, because all this progression of the genre, we can’t have it.
The Deafheaven debate is part of a bigger discussion on metal and its health. The articles asking if metal is dead have started popping up and with good reason. What great bands have arisen in recent years that everyone knows and discusses? Very little, we only have bands that are reviled, like Deafheaven. There’s a vacuüm in heavy metal in general, which is illustrated by the fact that Slayer, Iron Maiden and Metallica are still the perpetual headliners. What else sticks? Babymetal?
The elitist conservatism is slowly killing black metal, once one of the most creative, subversive and exciting genres out there. Embrace the changes or leave them be, but stop putting everything down. Metal needs to breathe, develop and be allowed to find new avenues. With even the mighty Lemmy Kilmister slowing down, it’s high time for some growth and renewal. Even Lemmy can’t carry this torch any longer. The elitism in metal is killing it, like it does with the French language.
As for hipsters, how was metal ever a genre for people that are hip and happening? Aren’t hipsters slowly becoming the social outcasts anyways? The outsider position of metal fans is not going to change, not even by Deafheavens ‘Sunbather’ or a new album, which I think might be a very good one.
Kahn-Harris (2007) Extreme Metal Horning (2009) The Death of the Hipster. Pop Matters Patterson (2013) Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult Stewart-Panko (2015) Debunking the ‘hipster metal’ myth. Alternative Press
Another series of books read, this time Plutarch, Greg Keyes, Dayal Patterson and Richard A. Knaak. From Ancient Rome to the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft.
Plutarch – The Fall of the Roman Republic
Yes, another book by Plutarch. This time focussing on the transferral periode from the late republic to the empire, describing the lives of Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey the Great, Cesar and Cicero, who brought an end to the Republic. It’s a fascinating bit of storytelling, where Plutarch clearly shows he’s not in love with Cesar. In fact, he barely manages to keep it out of his words. Then again, none of the figures in this book appears to carry his favor, maybe Marius a little bit in most of his life. Sulla doesn’t get of lightly and Crassus looks like a buffoon. Pompey is the tragic figure in this version of events, together with Cicero I suppose.
The one life missing would be that of Cato, who opposed Cesar for as long as he could. It was a great read, that I enjoyed very much. Enough to order some more actually. What is lacking here, is the pairings with Greek lives. I’m also very curious about those and I must say I doubt the way the publishers dealt with that. All in all, it gives good insights in a highly confusing period of our ancient history.
Dayal Patterson – The Cult Never Dies: Volume 1
Dayal Patterson started something big with his first book ‘Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult’. It was not enough, he had the desire to catalogue the entire black metal scene and its aspects, so here is the second book and first in a continuing series of looking at the blackest music genre you can find. Patterson takes a clean, journalistic approach to bands like Satyricon, Silencer and Mgla and many, many more. It opens up the scene to new investigators, without disclosing all and keeping its edge of mystery in place.
The print looks minimal, which is good. The pictures are only in black and white, which is also rather enjoyabable and fitting. Patterson illuminates specific sections in this book, like the Polish black metal scene and the SDBM scene that emerged as a progenitor of post-blackmetal. He does this by taking out pivotal bands, but also interesting marginal acts to illustrate the broader whole. A well worth read for fans of the genre and intriguees.
Greg Keyes – The Infernal City
This is the very first novel of the Elder Scrolls franchise by Bethesda (known for their game Fallout mostly, but also Skyrim). The book tells the story of a human character Annaïg and an Argonian called Glim (Lizard people) in the world of Tamriel. A strange floating city approaches and brings doom to the lands. Annaïg and Glim decide to assault this city and try to warn others of the coming doom. While being captured by the dark denizens of the city, they succeed in reaching prince Attrebus.
Another story there unfolds, with the Prince’s life being under threat and his carreer an apparent illusion to facilitate Empire propaganda. The central imperial city has little interest in helping those under attack by the floating city on the fringes of the empire (even just outside it). Attrebus sets out to carve his own destiny and to become the person he is supposed to be as a prince. The book is well written and the characters do get some background, though sometimes they are a bit foggy in personality. The work introduces the figures and peoples of the Elder Scrolls universe and thus makes for a nice read and introduction. Now I should get part two though.
Richard A. Knaak – Night of the Dragon
I felt this urge to read the only Warcraft book that was still unread on my shelves. Probably I was not up for some literary masterpiece, but the writings of Knaak for Blizzard are always fun and catchy. So I started reading this follow up to Day Of The Dragon, the very first in the novel series of Blizzard. In this book we return to the doomed mountain where the first novel took place and the same key players converge, unwittingly of eachothers whereabouts on Grim Batol. Krasus, the dragon/mage, Vareesa Windrunner and a bunch of angry dwarves.
The plot deepens, when another of the black dragon flight emerges and plans to…dare I say? Take over the world. This time the book does not involve Deathwing, but some familiar elements of his evil will return in this story. It rekindles and connects other storylines, which is always very pleasant for an afficionado of the game like myself. The series of near-death escapes is a bit too dense for my taste though, but you can’t win ’em all, can you now? Looking forward to maybe playing some more in that fabulous world of Azeroth.
Another series of reads Some good books this time, with authors like Gordie Howe, Kinky Friedman, Dayal Patterson and Henk van Straten.
Gordie Howe – Mr. Hockey: My Story
Gordie Howe has been a source of inspiration to me. The guy played hockey till in his fifties on the top level, still racking up the points. In this book he tells his story, which remarkably enough is actually the story of hockey itself. Mr. Hockey is not just a fancy nickname, it makes sense to call a guy exactly that, because he lived through it. Then he came back one more time in at almost seventy for the Detroit Vipers for just one game. He talks in his book about home, his youth, injuries and his own special frontier justice in hockey.
There’s a sense of humility to his words. Gordie Howe might be the greatest, he is even more so because of his personality and that down to earth mentality. I truly wish he was in better health these days, but at 87 the man is still going as strong as that beaten and battered body can. Amazing to hear his story and the things he’s seen and done. Ofcourse it’s only hockey, but hockey means a lot to me and any mans dedication to one goal is something to learn from. I salute you, Mr. Howe. Truly a hero to me.
Dayal Patterson – Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of black metal. I love the feel of the music, the music and it’s culture, but nothing I love more than approaching it from an academic point of view, trying to create the bigger picture of a genre that is fundamentelistic in origin, but pushing boundaries for more than 20 years now. The work of Patterson is for that purpose a well written analogy of the scene through the most vital years, analysing and chronicling the bands that people keep forgetting. Sure, Mayhem has three chapters, but that’s not all there is in this book.
Patterson is not trying to say everything, nor trying to create some vision. He is trying to show what is there and where the nucleus of the scene was, but also the far edges. The whole Euronymous thing is in there, but cut short, sticking more to it as an event that shook and shaped the scene. This is vital information in understanding what and how things went down. I love how this book gets you such a much bigger picture. Did you ever read about bands like Fleurety, Sigh and Tormentor in a way that actually gave you new info? I didn’t, but now I’m checking all those out. Black metal is so much more than Varg Vikernes.
Kinky Friedman – Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola
Kinky Friedman is a country making, cigar smoking Jew from Texas. He switched to writing detectives at some point in his career, for reasons that I won’t even try to understand. One of the results is this book, that was put in my hands by a friend, mainly because he might get a visit from Kinky at some point in the future. It all seems a bit surreal, but you know what… I gave it a go. If you are familiar with the work of Irvine Welsh or Belgian writer Herman Brusselmans, there’s a writer to add to your favorites.
The protagonist Kinky finds out the girl he’s been sleeping with has gone missing. He goes on a hunt for answers in a surreal setting that mainly features internal monologues, cigar smoking and whiskey chugging with his mates in New York. Actually the protagonist, being Kinky Friedman, doesn’t do much more apart from talking on the phone, making his friends do stuff and dealing with his cat There’s this film noir atmosphere to the story thaough, which is weird in the sense that everything happens outside of the story. After 200 pages you just feel a bit confused. The story comes to life and gets resolved in the final pages only. That is however after a weird bumpy ride.
Henk van Straten – Superlul
Yeah, that requires some translation. Let me first tell you the story. Superlul is the nickname of the main character. It means super dick/cock/whatever and it refers to his huge schlong. After years of insecurity, hiding in his room with fantasy books and trying to prevent the rise of his enormous member, he finds his talent in the hospital with a horny nurse. From there on Superlul becomes a celebrity, all the while porking whatever he can. He ends up in the Dutch celebrity circuit, which is plastic fantastic.
It all turns into an overblown, surreal story where his girlfriend is Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones, yes the one with the lord of light thingy where a lot of boobies need to be shown). The style in which Van Straten tells the story is high paced, witty and direct. He gets his message across, without having to explain it. Van Straten is not being literary in the way it’s always perceived to be, by using difficult structures, complicated concepts and just shoving in a dictionairy. No, Superlul is literature for anyone who understands the irony of it all. That is definitely something this book has plenty of.
Disclaimer; any link to a webshop is just because I needed the picture, not that they are paying me (but they should)