Think you know everything there is to know about black metal? Well, be prepared to find out as a new book about the genre is being released in November of this year. Titled “Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult”, this is a HUGE book spanning over 215,000 words featuring interviews with Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski (Behemoth), Alan ‘AA Nemtheanga’ Averill (Primordial), Attila Csihar (Mayhem / Tormentor), Benny ‘Cerastes’ (Mysticum), Christophe Szpajdel (Designer for Emperor, Graveland etc) and many others.
I spoke to the book’s author Dayal Patterson about the book and all things black metal in anticipation of its release. Read on and find out more!
Curt: Hi Dayal, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for me. How did you decide to write a book about black metal’s history? Obviously there has already been a fair amount written (such as “Lords of Chaos”, “Until the Light Takes Us”), so what made you decide to do this?
Dayal: I made the decision back in 2009, both for myself, in order to better understand the black metal phenomena which I’ve been a part of since the mid-nineties, and also to better represent the genre within the wider world. Yes there have been a few books and films made, but none offer much more than a snapshot on something which is actually very complicated, and I think most intelligent people want to see the complete picture at this point – or at least I did. ‘Lords of Chaos’, for example, mainly focusses on crime and extreme politics in satanic metal, ‘Until the Light Takes Us’ offers a good insight into the personalities of Fenriz and Varg. Both are certainly interesting documents but what I wanted to present was something more wide-reaching, something that would take us from the early eighties pioneers up to the scene as it is today and really look in great detail at all the people who contributed to its growth, including those artists who tend to be overlooked in favour of the bigger names.
Curt: From what I can see on your Facebook page promoting the book, it appears that “Evolution of the Cult” will be extensive with a “who’s who” of BM personalities. How much time did it actually take to get all of the interviews and research done? And, how the hell did you manage to get it done between your other writing assignments?
Dayal: With great difficulty! It took me about four years in total and I was balancing it alongside my freelance writing, photography and graphics work, so lots of late nights were involved. At the same time being freelance means I could be very flexible with time, so it was probably a lot easier than if I was doing a full time job with more traditional hours. It also meant I was able to take some time off other work to get the book started, which probably wasn’t very sensible financially-speaking but certainly made for quite an exciting time getting the tome underway. But the whole thing was very time consuming and I estimate I’ve put literally thousands of hours into it, all things considered. Even the final stage of getting the book laid out, with all pictures correctly captioned has proved extremely time-consuming and sanity-depleting.
Curt: I read in a previous interview that you tackle the First Wave of BM quite a bit in the book. How do you feel you managed to tackle the “early days” of BM in a way that will be interesting to those who’ve already read “Lords of Chaos” and “Sound of the Beast”?
Dayal: I think ‘Lords of Chaos’, along with most other works on black metal, skipped over the first wave as quickly as possible in order to concentrate on the second wave that came out of Norway. That’s fair enough, but I wanted something more historically complete here. And the book title does mean something; this is the story of how black metal evolved. There’s been a tendency to present the first wave as being those early eighties groups and the second wave as starting around 1991 with nothing in between. Actually the concepts of first wave and second wave are a little deceptive, and perhaps another reason why a lot of modern black metal fans are slightly distanced from the bands that bridged the gap between Venom and the Norwegian bands. To be honest writing this book made me aware how much the eighties stuff had been overlooked and how so much of the sounds of the early nineties were built upon recordings made in the eighties. To that end I interviewed members and ex-members of Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Vulcano, VON, Blasphemy, Samael, Rotting Christ, Tormentor and Master’s Hammer, and also interviewed musicians from bands such as Mayhem, Aura Noir, Darkthrone, Sigh, Gehenna etc to explain what this early black metal music meant to them, how they interpreted it and how it inspired them.
Curt: I also saw that your book contains an interview with Rob Darken from Graveland whom most people would say is controversial to say the least due to his views. Are you concerned about offending potential readers by having some more extreme views in the book?
Dayal: No, I don’t think anyone reading a book on black metal ought to be offended by extremity or controversy really, and I think I tackle the political side of the genre (NSBM and bands such as Burzum and Graveland) very objectively and in great depth. I certainly don’t agree with the race-related views expressed, but I do think things ought to be discussed openly and intelligently, then I let the reader make their own mind up. And let’s not forget that many of today’s big names in black metal made racist comments when they were young, so Darken is not the only one guilty of that. More widely-speaking, many big name black metal bands have advocated murder and terrorism, shouldn’t that be considered controversial and offensive too? Maybe or maybe not, but it’s interesting that so many people are focussing on Darken’s presence. As long as it encourages debate it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.
Curt: Obviously a lot of the book is going to be focused on Norway, but do you feature much on bands from N. America such as Blasphemy or Absu?
Dayal: Blasphemy have their own chapter actually! Absu are mentioned but not in as much detail – not that they aren’t a fascinating group, but they perhaps haven’t had quite the same role in terms of shaping the genre’s evolution as some others. VON are also interviewed in great depth, as North America’s first true black metal band, and also I look at early Slayer and Wolves in the Throne Room, but for the most part black metal’s seminal years belong to Europe (including Britain), with a pinch of Asia and South America. Today of course, it’s a different story, but this book is about the first three decades really.
Curt: Are there any plans on making a Kindle (or other electronic version) of the book available or is it strictly going to be a hardcover?
Dayal: I’m not entirely sure actually. It’s a huge book – about 215, 000 words with about 250 photos – so I think initially it will be in softback, with later versions coming later (I believe). That might be a while though, it’s taken long enough to get the main version sorted…!
Curt: Thanks a lot for your time, any final words you want to say?
Dayal: Thank you for the interview and for your time. The book is out on 12 November 2013 and is available to preorder now on Amazon and other outlets. I would also recommend people add the page www.facebook.com/evolutionofthecult, because that’s where official updates, news, pictures etc are being posted! For non-facebookers there’s www.evolutionofthecult.com.