Dayal Patterson's original first edition tome, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult (reviewed here by us when it was first released in 2015), has been a trusted source of information for me for nearly a decade. It sits in a prominent place in my office library, with clear signs of heavy use. It's been my go-to text for insights, interviews and heavily researched, trusted content for my work in the industry and for my own personal love of black metal. I'll always love my original copy, gifted to me by a dear family friend, however, I was super excited to hear that Mr. Patterson has spent nearly a year working on an extended, definitive copy of my favorite reference.
Patterson, who created his own publishing house, Cult Never Dies, was never quite satisfied with the original version of the book. The original publisher placed some limitations on what could be included and that meant that some original sections had to be excised in order to fit within the specified word count. Additionally there were concerns related to editing and artwork. This newest iteration actually features Decibel's own Albert Mudrian as copy editor and proofreader. Further, now completely under Patterson's control, black metal fans, artists and other interested parties are given the opportunity to upgrade to this jam-packed, extensively revised edition.
One of the first things you'll notice about this new edition is the heft of it. This book clocks in at nearly 800 pages. This is, quite literally, a textbook. Of course, it's a helluva lot more entertaining than any textbook I've ever read. It's just chock full of material, photos, interviews and mega amounts of band and genre specific information. The table of contents alone is a whopping three pages! Dayal really didn't leave any stone uncovered here as this expertly organized work takes the reader through both space and time to cast the widest possible net.
There are some specific additions that really enhance the overall value of the text here. My personal favorite enhanced sections relate to material the features the band Satyricon, Mystifier and Immortal. These bands are, of course, cornerstones of the genre, and this time around Patterson was able to give them a lot more ink. The material on Satyricon, for example, features material from an interview with frontman (and famous wine maker) Satyr Wongraven, that isn't found in the earlier edition. Similarly, there's new interview content from the likes of Teloch (Mayhem, Nidingr), Themis Tolis (Rotting Christ), Schmier (Destruction), Sorcerer Do'Urden (Mystifier) and even the one and only Max Cavelera (Soulfly, ex-Sepultura, etc.).
The book is entirely filled with artwork and photography to nicely complement the extensive text. Many of the photos and exhibits even I hadn't seen before, and I've been following the genre since the 90's. In particular, there's an amazing photo of King Diamond and Hank Shermann (circa 1984) from noted metal photographer Frank White. That photo alone (in color no less) makes the entire purchase worth it. But in addition to the vintage pics of folks Mantas, Quorthon, Mystifier and Tormentor, there are obscure advertisements from bands like Bethlehem and tons of rarities of bands like Dimmu Borgir (one featuring an unpainted Shagrath), Gorgoroth and even the very NSFW original cover of the Love's Burial Ground LP by Forgotten Tomb.
One aspect of the text that will also stand out to readers is the honest and forthright editorial style that Patterson uses. This isn't a book with a slanted agenda, like so many pieces of literature related to black metal are. While there's a section on black and metal and politics, the chapter itself isn't political and rightly eschews any type of proselytizing. There's an even keel here throughout. In this respect, this is a back-to-basics approach here as Patterson rightfully shuns the urge to engage in any type of Kurt Loder-esque commentary.
Another thing I really love about this book is the fact that Patterson allows the artists to really do a lot of speaking for themselves. For example, the section on Immortal is chock full of actual quotes from Demonaz, the chapter on Trelldom has many words directly from Pytten (their producer) and the material on Cradle Of Filth is peppered with specific notions from vocalist Dani Filth himself.
It's also the little details that Patterson is able to add that makes this particular text so resourceful. I never knew, as an example, that Jon Nodtveidt (Dissection) was once in a band called Rabbit's Carrot (for real!) and that VON's return was essentially launched a deli and bagel shop in Hawaii. But these are remote pieces of information that Dayal uncovers, which makes this such a rich read, even for those of us who thought we already knew it all.
Overall, this "definitive edition" most definitely lives up to its name. I would be hard pressed to find an alternative that is nearly as well-researched. The care and craft in this publication is apparent from the first chapter through the last and one could literally spend days on end reading this. This might be the perfect book to bring along to those long trips to Norway. I should mention that there's also a great deal of logic to the "flow" of the book here as well. Dayal starts out with the roots in the beginning and then takes us through the pioneers and ultimately ends with more specialized chapters. From a reader's perspective, the author here has designed a book that will educate in a way that doesn't overwhelm.
As I mentioned, the first edition of this book has been on bookshelf for many years and it's even in my college library. Nonetheless, this new edition just offers so much more, and importantly, it's the way Patterson wanted it. Without any doubt, it's a must have for any black metal fan's library.