Dark Roots (Book review)
Released: 2017, Indie
This book caught me off-guard. As the unofficial librarian of Metal-Rules.com, I did not even know this book was coming out. I suppose that kind of reflects my relationship with the Czech band Root, I’ve never been right on top of their long, confusing and sporadic career.
Root ultra-fan and historian, Alesh Dostal has written the ultimate book of the enigmatic band. DARK ROOTS is the 30th anniversary (1987-2017) hard bound, coffee-table book chronicling the history of the band. He had unfettered access to the ‘Rootan Archive’ and what they have produced is simply amazing.
This beast is over 900 pages long! You can’t really sit comfortably and hold it up and read it...it’s too big and heavy! I’m not a big Root fan. Not because I don’t like them, what I have heard I do really like, but growing up this obscure, underground Czech band did not have distribution or much media coverage…especially in North America. Their career was spotty and underground and I could never find their albums anywhere. So I can’t count myself as a ‘true’ die-hard fan who owns all their albums...but after reading this I really want to get more of the bands music.
For the real Root fans, this is incredible book, and it is incredible for anyone even with a passing interest in underground Metal. It is extremely well-put together. It is printed on nice glossy paper, it has big bold colour, helpful captions on every photo and oddly enough, the table of contents is in the back. Written in both Czech and English the book has everything you might want. A comprehensive discography, interviews with every band member past and present, a total year-by-year history, a massive collection of every article, fanzine, clipping that has every been collected. It is completely comprehensive. I learned a lot of about the founder, BigBoss and his odd ways; a cool mix of King Diamond, Marco Messiah and maybe Erico Morales of Dantesco. The band had a wild, alcohol fuelled career with tons of people coming and going, brushes with the pre (and post) soviet style authorities and over time Root become one of the longest running most respected bands from behind the former Iron Curtain. I’m glad I got to see them play at least once, the only time they came to Canada in 2010 at the Noctis Valkyries Festival.
When I first saw this book and decided to review it, one of my first thoughts was, ‘How long is it going to take me read all this?!” Fortunately, much of it is in Czech and there are hundreds and hundreds of big pictures so it did not take as long as I thought. In addition, the aforementioned section of collected clips and fanzine material is called ‘Testimony From The Underworld’ and it is over 320 pages long! All this fan-club stuff, 99.9% of it is written in Czech, so admittedly it did not take long because I could not read the language. I’m sure for the fan who can read it there are dozens and dozens of hours of amazing reading material with lots insightful trivia to be gleaned, reading those old photocopied clippings. So for a guy like me who only speaks English, at least 75% of the book I couldn’t read so it did not take me that long to get though the history section of 1987-2017. Even so I don’t feel like I’m missing out, it is gorgeous to look at. A Root historians and fans dream project.
I’m really, really impressed by DARK ROOTS. It is a labour of love by fans of a band that I think we can admit is still fairly obscure. I can wrap my head around the fact that a more mainstream band (by Metal standards) like Helloween, Dream Theater, GWAR or Opeth each did massive, hard-cover, anniversary-type books. Those bands are ten times as popular as Root have sold ten times more and toured ten times as much so it makes sense the big bands would get big coffee-table books because there is more fan demand…but Root? Well, it shows you what I know…never underestimate the power of the Metal underground and the roots of true fans.