Doom Metal Lexicanum (Book review)
Released: 2017, Crypt Publications
The steady climb in Metal related publishing continues unabated with not one but two genre-specific book published in late 2017. In the early days of Metal publishing books were all or nothing and often fell short trying to encompass everything under the sun. Now, we are seeing more genre-specific books, written by local experts, appearing on the market. I have selected two brand new books, one about Doom and one about Prog, (they are just about as sonically opposite as you can get!) to be spotlighted. It was a fun exercise in contrast and I reviewed both this month; DOOM METAL LEXICANUM and ESSENTIAL MODERN PROGRESSIVE ROCK ALBUMS. Take that Christmas gift money you got from your aunt who hasn’t got a clue about the music you listen to ‘with all that screaming’, and go buy one (or both) of these awesome books!
Dayal Patterson and his publishing empire continues to relentlessly surge forward like a steamroller. His sub-label (for lack of a better term) Crypt has just published their second book this year. It seems his Cult Never Dies label is for his own writing and Crypt Publications is for other books he takes under his leathery bat-wing.
Author Aleksey Evdokimov is a Doom fanatic. He has written the second ever Doom Encyclopedia. The first one was published in February of 2003 by Cherry Red/Zomba under the Rockdetector umbrella back in 2003. (RIP) This new book is sorely needed because of the global resurgence of Doom in the last several years.
DOOM METAL LEXICANUM IS as impressive as a weighty doom riff. Boasting cover art from renowned Black/Doom/Fantasy metal cover artist, David Thierree, it is very attractive and appropriate. Interestingly, on the back cover is the original cover art concept. It might not be a coincidence that Thierree got the call to do the cover art as the first book on Crypt Publications was a book about Thierree, which I reviewed here on this site in July of 2017. The 300-page book starts with no less than five introductory essay/comments by Sami Hynninen of Reverend Bizzare, Tana Kawahara of Eternal Elysium, Mike Liassides of Doom Metal.com, Dayal Patterson and Aleksey himself. These comments give a good and interesting insight into the process of how this came into being. Up next is an introduction to Doom Metal, this two-page essay is well done and covers the bases. The only feature it could have included is a Table Of Contents for quicker reference but there is an index which serves that same purpose.
The core of the book, as we said is an encyclopedia. There are over 360 bands, listed alphabetically. Each band gets a write-up and key information, country of origin, a selected discography and a photo or two for most bands. It is printed on nice paper, and is black and white. Normally, I would prefer colour photos but somehow for a book about Doom, black and white seems appropriate.
I’m not the world’s biggest doom expert, I prefer my Metal fast but I do have a significant amount of Doom in my collection, but nothing like this! When I first got it I skimmed through it to see if there were any essential bands that were missed, and no, he got them all…plus dozens more! The problem, if it can be defined as such, is that there are so many bands, no single print publication can capture them all. Conservative estimates put the number of Doom bands (active and in-active since 1970) at about 10,000. It can’t be a criticism to suggest that Evdokimov ‘only’ has 360 bands in his Encyclopedia, that is still more than any other book. This is THE definitive global guide to Doom. Sure, any die-hard Doom fan could go through and name a few obscure bands that were not included but that is not the point. It is very thorough and has covered all the bases of all the key bands. I was very pleased to see many, newer exciting bands such as Magic Circle or The Order Of Israfel formed in the past seven years (since 2010) re-emphasizing the recent, massive, global doom explosion perhaps even rivaling in sheer numbers the global Power Metal explosion of the late 90’s.
I really enjoyed Evdokimov’s writing style, lots of great trivia (I never knew what the term Midryasi stood for!) and it is clear he is a true and passionate fan. An electrical engineer by trade, a quick look at his photo in the back, you would never think he was a Doom fan. No beard! Silly stereotypes aside, he has achieved something truly remarkable with his first book.
The global reach of Doom is very well represented with bands from Brazil, Estonia, Japan, India, New Zealand and everywhere else, 37 counties in total, all finding home in the Lexicanum.
Just for fun, as my own bonus feature, here is a quick breakdown of the bands in DOOM METAL LEXICANUM by bands per nation.
1. USA (100)
2. Italy (45)
3. UK (37)
4. Sweden (26)
5. Finland (20) (tie)
5. Germany (20) (tie)
7. France (15)
8. Canada (9)
9. Russia (8)
10. Australia/Brazil/Hungary (5 each)
* Another 25 nations have four or less bands in the encyclopedia.
Surprise! Italy coming in at #2! Who knew? For a nation largely associated (in terms of Metal) with Symphonic and Progressive Power Metal, I was shocked they came in at #2. USA and UK were predictable slots with long histories and large populations. Not so shocking, the low countries of Europe (Benelux) account for virtually no doom bands at all…that area being the undisputed global stronghold of female fronted progressive power Metal bands (Epica etc). Canada’s ranking is a bit surprising, I never I knew I lived in the 8th most doomy nation on Earth! Must be all the snow. All this goes to show that Doom is a truly global phenomena.
The book has several other bonus features, an interview with Lee Dorian, and an extended essay of the nature of witchcraft by Sami of Reverend Bizarre. One really cool feature is a monster eight-page page breakdown of the influence of American author H.P. Lovecraft on Doom. For readers (like me) who have never read Lovecraft, this is an extremely valuable resource, synthesizing a ton of information to help Doom fans get an even greater appreciation of the lyrics and imagery of their favourite Doom bands.
It might be a cliché but DOOM METAL LEXICANUM is mandatory reading and ownership for all Doom fans. It is highly unlikely this book will be surpassed in the near future until Evdokimov himself writes the updated, expanded version.