From Bazillion Points to Canadian legend Martin Popoff's self-released (and voluminous) tomes, the genre of heavy metal is receiving documentation in the middle of 21st Century Q1 like never before. And now Svart Publishing, the literary arm of the tres adventurous record label that celebrates metal while refusing to be confined by it, is getting in on the game. The Devil's Cradle is far more than just an entry-level glimpse into the rise (and continuation) of the Finnish black metal scene; it's a remarkably in depth look at a scene that arose alongside the more well-known Norwegian one, and continues to churn out remarkable bands and material at a flurrying rate.
Over the course of a whopping 556 pages, author Tero Ikäheimonen goes deep on his native black metal heritage, placing ground zero at Beherit and Impaled Nazarene, drawing a through-line to roughly contemporary acts like Archgoat, Belial and Barathrum, and extending the thread to encompass everything else from more well-known bands such as Horna, …And Oceans and Satanic Warmaster to giving equal coverage to lesser known, relatively unheralded groups like IC Rex, Diaboli and Saturnian Mist. The sheer scope is impressive enough, but the fact that each of these bands gets their own chapter – replete with interview quotes and in-depth band biographies – is downright unheard of.
Throughout, it's readily apparent that Ikäheimonen has done his research: quotes are culled from long lost, impossible-to-find 90's zines, new interviews are established with scene veterans talking about each other's influence… even the tape trading circuit is given much ink, to the point where both the author and many of the interviewed bands cite the networking exchange of cassette demos as the real birth of the scene, rather than the commonly mentioned influence of the Norwegian bands next door, few of which were even in circulation at the time the earliest of these Finnish bands were cutting their teeth.
The Devil's Cradle is an essential – the essential – document of Finnish black metal, and one could only hope that Ikäheimonen continues along this vein with future work, perhaps covering another country's scene, or even an alternate history of other Finnish genres: thrash, hardcore, etc. Seminal stuff.