Albert Mudrian – Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (Expanded Edition) (Red Flag Media)Sunday, 24th May 2015
The original Choosing Death – released in 2004, and presently sitting on this scribe’s bookshelf – was a fascinating glimpse into the back channels of death metal. Mudrian, then a relatively fresh face to the metal journalism scene, crafted a heady, well-researched, and highly readable tome that examined death metal and grindcore’s origins, its primary constituents, and subsequent impact on the metal underground. Death metal in particular got the most face-time, and rightfully so – the style remains the most popular in all of extreme metal’s various subsets, so with another ten years to work from, all sorts of cool and un-cool happenings, Mudrian has tacked on an additional 100 pages, which amounts to three new chapters, and 50 extra interviews. Lots to digest.
The updated version of Choosing Death builds largely upon the voluminous foundation Mudrian had created in its initial form. Some of the book’s key stories – the formative years of Chuck Schuldiner, the Stockholm scene, Earache’s brief alliance with major label Columbia – are still here, and are as relevant as ever. The nod here goes to Mudrian’s interviews with Earache heads Digby Pearson and Jim Welch, who spoke of their experiences bartering with Columbia in trying to get the likes of Carcass and Cathedral to the next level. That, of course, never quite happened, but hearing how it went down is quite enthralling.
But alas, the facelift the book received, coupled with new pieces on the retro death metal resurgence, the reunions of At the Gates and the aforementioned Carcass, as well as spotlights on several of the scene’s new bands, makes the rare re-release of a book of this nature such a winner. Available via Decibel’s excellent webstore (and a few other cool places), Choosing Death is of course, recommended.