A book review? Yup, that’s what we have on our hands here. I finally finished Dayal Patterson’s labor of love (and metal) “Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult” and it’s a must have addition to any black metal fan’s collection.

This is far and away better than “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground” by Michael Moynihan. There’s a lot of overlap between the two, especially the Norwegian scene and what influenced it in the early ‘90s. I’m not saying “don’t read Lords of Chaos,” because it’s a good read as well, but Patterson’s “Evolution of the Cult” does a better job of really rummaging through the entire scene from beginning to end, while also covering the infamous events that brought black metal to prominence.

I mentioned this was a labor of love and it shows because the decades it took to put this together is just insane. Countless interviews with all the (still living) figureheads and supporting names of black metal are here. Patterson goes back to the seedlings of the scene and basically every damn one of them mentions KISS and the influence Gene Simmons’ monsters of arena rock had on them as far as imagery and music go. Venom does not go unnoticed either as Patterson uncovered them (unsurprisingly) as another major influence, the same as KISS.

I won’t do a chapter-by-chapter rehash, but you can expect to find tons of insight and stories from all the bands you know and all the bands you wish you had heard of when tape trading was the only way to get new underground metal demos before the Internet. I managed to find new favorites through this book and particularly enjoyed the sections about all my favorite bands and some I was not familiar with.

“Evolution of the Cult” is ridiculously well-written and logically laid out as Patterson chronologically (and geographically) explores the entire scene and the history behind it all: the good and the bad. You’ll hear about Bathory and Quarthon’s extremely mysterious life and career, great interviews about Mayhem’s storied beginnings with Dead’s suicide,  church burnings, the murder of Mayhem’s Euronymous incident and the Helvete record store influence.

There’s even chapters about modern black metal and blackened death metal with –as always- great insight from Behemoth’s Nergal and how he separated himself from the violent and cliquish Poland black metal scene.

This book really has everything crammed into it, brimming with great stories, awesome rare photos and behind-the-scenes insight from all the major (and minor) players of the black metal scene. This is one of those hard to put down books, especially if black metal really is your thing. I haven’t read any of the expansion books in this series, but I can assure you the first one is a must-read.

Alongside archive interviews, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult includes extensive and exclusive interviews with:

  • Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski (Behemoth)
  • Alan ‘AA Nemtheanga’ Averill (Primordial)
  • Attila Csihar (Mayhem / Tormentor)
  • Benny ‘Cerastes’ (Mysticum)
  • Conrad ‘Cronos’ Lant (Venom)
  • Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth)
  • Edmond ‘Hupogrammos’ Karban (Negura Bunget)
  • Eirik ‘Pytten’ Hundvin (Producer for Emperor, Gorgoroth, Mayhem)
  • Fabban ‘Malfeitor’ (Aborym)
  • Frank ‘The Watcher’ Allain (Fen)
  • František Štorm (Master’s Hammer)
  • George ‘Magus Daoloth’ Zacharopoulos (Rotting Christ / Necromantia)
  • Gerald ‘Black Winds’ (Blasphemy)
  • Greg ‘Damien’ Moffit (Cradle Of Filth)
  • Gylve ‘Fenriz’ Nagell (Darkthrone / Dødheimsgard / Isengard / Storm)
  • Hans ‘Mortuus’ Rostén (Marduk / Funeral Mist)
  • Håvard ‘Mortiis’ Ellefsen(Emperor)
  • Ian ‘Tjodalv’ Åkesson (Dimmu Borgir)
  • Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved)
  • Jarle ‘Hvall’ Kvåle (Windir / Vreid)
  • Jason ‘Venien’ Ventura (VON)
  • Jon ‘Metallion’ Kristiansen (Slayer Mag / Head Not Found Records)
  • Jonas ‘B’ Bergqvist (Lifelover)
  • Jonas Åkerlund (Bathory)
  • Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud (Mayhem / Kvikksølvguttene)
  • Jorn Tunsberg (Old Funeral / Immortal / Hades)
  • Kai ‘Trym’ Mosaker (Emperor / Enslaved)
  • Kim ‘( )’ Carlsson(Lifelover)
  • Kim ‘King Diamond’ Petersen (Mercyful Fate)
  • Kjetil ‘Manheim’ (Mayhem)
  • Kjetil Grutle (Enslaved)
  • Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal (Trelldom / Gorgoroth / Gaahlskag)
  • Kristoffer ‘Garm’ Rygg (Arcturus / Ulver)
  • Lee Barrett (Candlelight Records)
  • Marko ‘Holocausto’ Laiho (Beherit)
  • Michael ‘Vorph’ Locher (Samael)
  • Mikko Aspa (Clandestine Blaze)
  • Mirai Kawashima (Sigh)
  • Morgan ‘Evil’ Hakkansson (Marduk / Abruptum)
  • Niklas Kvarforth (Shining)
  • Ole ‘Apollyon’ Moe (Aura Noir / Dødheimsgard / Immortal)
  • Paul Ryan (Cradle Of Filth)
  • Peter Tagtgren (Producer for Dimmu Borgir, Marduk)
  • Preben ‘Prime Evil’ (Mysticum, Aborym)
  • Rob ‘Darken’ Fudali (Graveland / Infernum)
  • Robin ‘Graves’ Eaglestone (Cradle Of Filth)
  • Robin ‘Mean’ Malmberg (Mysticum)
  • Roger ‘Infernus’ Tiegs (Gorgoroth / Borknagar)
  • Rune ‘Blasphemer’ Eriksen (Mayhem / Aura Noir)
  • Saint Vincent (Blacklodge)
  • Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ)
  • Shawn ‘Goat’ Calizo (VON)
  • Simen ‘ICS Vortex’ Hestnæs (Arcturus / Dimmu Borgir)
  • Snorre Ruch (Stigma Diabolicum / Thorns / Mayhem)
  • Steffen ‘Dolgar’ Simestad (Gehenna)
  • Svein Egil Hatlevik (Fleurety / Dødheimsgard)
  • Sven ‘Silenoz’ Kopperud (Dimmu Borgir)
  • Sven-Erik ‘Maniac’ Kristiansen (Mayhem)
  • Terje ‘Tchort’ Vik Schei (Emperor / Carpathian Forest)
  • Thomas ‘Pest’ Kronenes (Gorgoroth)
  • Tom ‘King’ Visnes (Gorgoroth / Ov Hell)
  • Tom ‘Warrior’ Fischer (Hellhammer / Celtic Frost)
  • Tomas ‘Samoth’ Haugen (Thou Shalt Suffer / Emperor)
  • Tor-Helge ‘Cernunnus’ Skei (Manes)
  • Vegard ‘Ihsahn’ Tveiten (Emperor / Thou Shalt Suffer)
  • Ville ‘Shatraug’ Pystynen (Horna / Behexen)
  • Willy ‘Meyhna’ch’ Rousell (Mutiilation)
  • Yusaf ‘Vicotnik’ Parvez (Dødheimsgard)
  • Zhema Rodero (Vulcano)