1-13 - Book Review: LORDS OF CHAOSMichael Moynihan / Didrik Soderlind
Feral House
1998, 2003 (revised)

At the close of the last millennium, more than 100 churches in Europe were torched and desecrated by adherents of Black Metal, the most extreme form of underground music on the planet. In an escalating unholy war, Black Metal bands and their obsessive fans have left a grim legacy of suicide, murder, and terrorism that continues to spread from Norway to Germany, Finland, America, and beyond… Written by two journalists with unique access to he hellish demimonde, the acclaimed cult bestseller Lords of Chaos has now been revised and expounded, with startling new revelations. This award-winning expose’ features hundreds of rare photos and exclusive interrogations with priests, police officers, Satanists, and leaders of demonic bands who believe the greater evil spawns the greatest glory.

My interest in the highly controversial \,,/METAL\,,/ style known as Black Metal began exactly the same way as my interest in Death Metal: by way of a Christian artist under the guise of Horde. Which seems counter-intuitive, really: if there’s any kind of metal that Christians shouldn’t be involved in, it should be Black Metal, right? Yeah, that’s adorable. But, that’s a story for another blog post. Right now, we’re looking at the book that remains in my library of \,,/METAL\,,/ learnin’: Lords Of Chaos.

Purporting to be the history of the rise and development of Black Metal, Lords Of Chaos seems to be a book that has gained its own sort of notoriety in the so-called Black Metal underground for…reasons. Let’s face it, the rhetoric that can be spouted by those who take the lifestyle so seriously can boarder on hilarious. Since none of these detractors have produced any kind of counter-point to this in a rational manner (i.e.: NOT resorting to phrases like “CRUSH YOUR BONES IN HELL!” in all caps, etc.), and this book has been given an updated version and is still in print, I’m guessing it holds a bit more journalistic weight.

The book starts with the history of black metal’s early progenitors, from bands like Venom, Celtic Frost and Bathory, who were more proto-black metal that inspired the isolated youth in Norway to bring about the infamous Second Wave, with bands like Burzum, Hellhammer, and–the main focus on much of the later chapters–Mayhem, among others that were part of the so-called Black Circle.

Much of the book is dedicated more to the nefarious extracurricular activities that gained notoriety in the early Nineteen-Nineties, from church burnings, to feuds between bands, to murder and the fallout. And while that is very much part of the culture of Black Metal, it made the overall feel of the book more sensationalist than it should have been. Otherwise, with its bit of music history, several essays, interviews and news reports, as well as pictures and a look at the development of Black Metal in other countries outside of Norway and Scandinavia, Lords Of Chaos is a rather interesting look into a subgenre that has come a long way since it was birthed in the cold darkness. It’s worth checking out, if anything to get a detailed look at the early eras.