Review: TERO IKEHAIMONEN - The Devil's Cradle: History of Finnish Black Metal

Year of release: 2017 (original version) / 2020 (Russian language edition)
Released by: Svart Records (original) / Metal Star (russian language edition)

"The Devil's Cradle" is one of the first, but, no doubt, far from the last book about the Black Metal scene of a single country. The excellent “Cult” series by Dayal Patterson, by and large, created a trend for literature of this kind, and at the same time showed what needs to be done to approach the same topic from a different angle: to study it from the inside out. This is exactly what Tero Ikehaimonen, a racial Finn, did from 2014 to 2016, traveling around his country and talking with important representatives of its Black Metal scene.

"The Devil's Cradle" is a bit like Patterson’s books in structure. It observes a fairly strict chronology, which is almost not affected by the division of the material into 4 parts. The first tells about the early period of the Finnish extreme scene and about fathers (BEHERIT, ARCHGOAT, etc.), the second about the wave of the 90s (AZAZEL, DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED, HORNA, THY SERPENT ...), the third about the iconic representatives of the traditional Black Metal from beginning of the 2000s (SATANIC WARMASTER, GOATMOON, WARLOGHE ...), and the fourth about a fundamentally new wave of ideologically driven bands such as SATURNIAN MIST and COSMIC CHURCH. Materials about the bands are periodically interfered by articles important for understanding the big picture - for example, interviews with people close to the scene or analysis of Black Metal motivated crimes in Finland. The chapters themselves are not pushed into a rigid framework. Some are made in a narrative style, interspersed with quotes from musicians, others - in the classic Q&A format.

The Finns, as you know, are gloomy, but sincere people. Perhaps this character is the best suited for creating Black Metal. The defining characteristic of TDC is honesty. You will not find such honesty on the scenes of more fashionable Western European or North American countries, where most musicians have long turned into pussies afraid to drop at least one extra word. Neither the author nor the Finnish figures of Black Metal, presented in the book, care about how they are viewed from the side. If they need to say "Sieg Heil", they will do that. Although in reality National Socialism is not particularly widely represented on the Finnish scene. Almost all the musicians interviewed are ordinary men who explain their views clearly and tell stories, not afraid to look silly. They are eccentric, sometimes absolutely crazy, but all as one completely devoid of pathos. According to some of them, rock star attitude simply not accepted in Finland. A very robust approach. Ikehaimonen himself, in general, is also not too stressful. Understanding his responsibility as an author, he does not allow himself to fall below a certain level of speech, but still he often jokes and asks tricky questions. Obviously, he is really deep in the Black Metal theme of his country and not just writing a superficial essay.

The book features unrivaled detail. The author’s approach is very close to me personally. Most journalists prefer to focus on biographical details and general near-musical details, but Ikehaimonen asks questions for almost every release, albeit the smallest, and even parses individual songs with the musicians. Because of this, the chapters on old bands like BEHERIT and IMPALED NAZARENE grow to a 30-page volume. He is also interested in the ideological component, and he digs very deeply. This is a crucial point that is absent in the vast majority of metal books. Partly because many “big” groups really just have nothing to say about their ideology. The Finns, fortunately, understand what Black Metal is, and empty-headed liberal atheists are not to be found among them. Even ... AND OCEANS, who in fact turned out to be some kind of freaky faggots, have a basis in addition to “we just play music” attitude. The sad exception is URN.

The particularity of the book also lies in the very selection of bands. For example, I cannot name a single band that was unfairly ignored. SARGEIST and BAPTISM? They did not have separate chapters, but the history of these formations constantly intersects with the history of other bands, so you will learn a lot about them as you read. Some names may raise questions, but at the end of the book you will no longer have any doubts about the eligibility of including groups such as VORNAT, RIDE FOR REVENGE, CHARNEL WINDS in "The Devil's Cradle" . Even the bullshit URN is still important for history, becaust it is almost the only representative of the old-school Black / Thrash Metal in Finland.

As already mentioned, honesty is a key feature of both the book and the entire Finnish Black Metal. The musicians talk about their lives without hiding anything, and since the mentality of the Finns is closer to the East European than, for example, to the German one, something very native and understandable comes from their tales. In this context, the most revealing story is of AZAZEL, which can easily be imagine in city of Mahiljou, for example. No less exciting are the epic adventures of IMPALED NAZARENE in Australia and the rise of GOATMOON. But, of course, not all of them are crazy hooligans. The cold seriousness of WARLOGHE or ALGHAZANTH arouses great respect. A separate award, as usual, goes to the eloquent Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance, who, although he achieved enlightenment, still won't connect two words without a curse.

The Russian-language edition of the book, the publication of which did not portend any particular problems, eventually turned into a continuous nightmare, which lasted almost six months. In the end, a folio of 550 pages still successfully came out with a circulation of 500 copies. You can look at it on a video. No limited editions this time: the first hundred copies contain three gift stickers, that's all. In less than two weeks after the release, half of the print run was sold, which is very joyful. People from CIS countries can order a book at Possession website.

Post Author: F1sher16

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