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Book Review: The Armadeddon Chord, by Jeremy Wagner

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The Armageddon chord is the first novel by musician and songwriter Jeremy Wagner. In a broad sense, the book is a fun, fast-paced explosion of heavy metal, Egyptian mythology, and a good taste of the occult that makes for a very engaging read. If you enjoy apocalyptic tales and epic clashes between good and evil, then the plot of this book will definitely have you hooked. And of course, if you like the usual trappings of rock n’ roll glory and have a sense of humor about it, then you might find it funny as well. The key is this- don’t take it too seriously. Just enjoy it for the extravagant, ridiculous, and entertaining book that it is.

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Our hero is fictional guitar virtuoso Kirk Vaisto, a legendary musician who has played for various acts and now has a successful solo career. Kirk has been chosen by billionaire Festus Baustone and his old Nazi commandant Heltmut Hartkopff to perform a song that is said to be the key to the apocalypse which will grant immortality to those chosen. Oh, and the song also brings on Satanic rule for all eternity.

At first, Kirk’s character is a very run-of-the mill metal guitarist- likes to drink, likes chicks, loves his guitars, ect. In an attempt to give the protagonist some depth, Wagner devotes a chapter to his background and upbringing. Although we get a clear enough picture of Kirk’s easy-going yet motivated personality, Wagner tries to fit too many details in and goes on needlessly with information he could condensed into a single paragraph. This leaves the reader with a glut of information that he or she doesn’t really need. This is a problem that plagues most of the book, that of too much explanation. A character can be round without several pages divulging every nuance about his personality. Wagner would have done better to show more than tell, and let the reader’s do the work. With Kirk, the reader is left with a character that is so multi-faceted that he becomes hard to believe.

The writing itself can be a little awkward as well. Many times through reading it, I felt myself tripping over the sentences. Here is an example:

“Dying wasn’t the only fear Festus had, just the greatest” (p.17)

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Couldn’t this have been better stated like this?

“While dying may have been Festus’ greatest fear, it was far from his only one.”

Am I being a snob? Perhaps, so I should be fair to Wagner and say that his punchy writing does make for a quick read. In addition, there are other sentences which are written beautifully.

Wagner tends to use tired metaphors and some of his material is incredibly cheesy. But I also have to mention some of the hysterical/awesome rock-star lines thrown in:

  • “He remembered flashes of sexual dreams filled with swimsuit models and hot tubs.” (p.2)
  • “Girlfriends came and went like carryout.” (p.32)
  • “Haven’t you ever been in love?”
    “Not really. I mean, maybe with music and guitars. Never with anyone special.” (p.152)

While there are many things that could have made this book stronger, it’s hard to knock something that throws Nazis, Egyptian Myth, Metal, gore, monsters, demons, and guitars all into one story. Oh, and there’s a sex scene…and there’s a scene where a demon pisses on someone. I’ll stop giving things away now.

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The strongest aspect of the book is its simple dramatic structure with definitive rising actions and an overwhelming climax. The ending is somewhat of an over-simplified let down that leaves several issues unanswered. But again, I don’t think Wagner set out to write the next soaring work of literary genius. Partly an homage to Indiana Jones and The Exorcist, partly a explosion of heavy metal fury, The Armageddon Chord is simply a fun and entertaining work of fiction. For teenagers and young adults who like metal, that will probably be plenty to make this a good read.

Rating: 6.5/10

To purchase The Armageddon Chord for yourself, check out Amazon.

You can also go to Jeremy Wagner's website.

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