For death metal fans, a few key scenes loom large: Florida, Sweden, Great Britain, you know the drill. For dedicated death metal devotees, however, the Dutch death metal scene holds a special place in the history of the style.
Big names like Asphyx, Thanatos, and Gorefest made mighty contributions to the canon, but still retain a measure of obscurity compared to the Morbid Angels and Napalm Deaths of the world. This makes the history of extreme music from The Netherlands particularly fascinating. And while authors like Albert Mudrian have touched on the scene's history before, there was still room for a full book-level treatment.
Of course, Cult Never Dies, Dayal Patterson's unstoppable book imprint, agrees and is releasing a new book from author Steven Willems called Streams of Ancient Wisdom: The History of Dutch Death & Extreme Metal this September.
According to Steven, he had considered writing a book about Dutch death metal for a while — but had either failed to find the time or felt apprehension at being Belgian and worried if it wasn't his place to write on the subject. But like a lot of people, the Covid-19 pandemic presented the situation that freed up a lot of time. Elaborating on the Dutch scene, he says:
"The Netherlands is a country where there were a lot of musical opportunities in the 80s and 90s. Venues and youth clubs were usually subsidized by the local authorities, which encouraged a lot of bands to try and play a gig or record a demo. The threshold was low, and everything was possible. When it comes to extreme metal, the Netherlands has produced a lot of bands which played a pioneering role later on. Bands like Asphyx and Pestilence are known all over the world, but bands like God Dethroned, Thanatos, Sinister and Gorefest are notorious as well."
But the book also holds value to readers interested in the wider community that made the scene possible:
"A radio show like VARA's 'Vuurwerk,' just about everyone listened to that because there were hardly any other radio shows which payed attention to new releases. Many still think, and totally wrongly, that Roadrunner Records was always an American record company, but Roadrunner was actually founded in the Netherlands. Clubs like Dynamo in Eindhoven and the Dynamo Open Air festival that goes with it, as well as the magazine Aardschok, are simply legendary. I don't think you can write a book about any aspect of the Dutch metal scene and not mention them."
A wealth of information awaits the ready eager to learn more. Like I've said before, sometimes the best way to get interested in a group of bands is to learn the backstories and wider context. It makes you feel part of the history that went into the riffs, screams and blasts.
Oh, and the tulips and windmills on the cover are a nice touch. You'll find pre-order information at Cult Never Dies' web store.