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Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore [Paperback]

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Item description for Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore by Albert Mudrian, A. Marcel J. Zijlstra, Adam Grissom, Karl P. Mueller, David T. Orletsky, Frances E. Wall & David Mungello...

This exciting history, featuring an introduction by famed DJ John Peel, tells the two-decade-long history of grindcore and death metal through the eyes and ringing ears of the artists, producers, and label owners who propelled them.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   285
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2004
Publisher   Feral House
ISBN  193259504X  
ISBN13  9781932595048  

Availability  0 units.

More About Albert Mudrian, A. Marcel J. Zijlstra, Adam Grissom, Karl P. Mueller, David T. Orletsky, Frances E. Wall & David Mungello

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > General
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > History & Criticism
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Musical Genres > Heavy Metal
4Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Musical Genres > Popular
5Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Pop Culture > Music > General
6Books > Subjects > History

Reviews - What do customers think about Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore?

Mass Appeal Madness? Not hardly. But Choosing Death still delivers.  Feb 20, 2008
I bought Choosing Death last Christmas after seeing the quarter-page plug in the back of every issue of Decibel magazine (Decibel's editor-in-chief is Albert Mudrian, author of this tome of death metal history). After literally years of seeing this ad, I decided it was time to give it a chance and see if the book was really up to snuff or not. Even though my taste in metal doesn't lean too far into death metal territory, I still thought it would make for an interesting read, and maybe turn me on to some bands I hadn't heard of before. Choosing Death turned out to be a perfect choice for opening my eyes--and soon after, ears--to all the extreme music I'd been missing out on.

Starting out in Birmingham, England in the early 1980s, Mudrian examines the formative roots of death and grindcore (hardcore punk and crust), before moving into death metal's heyday (popularity explosion in the Floridian and British scenes), its worldwide spread (Swedish death is given a chapter-long examination) and its gradual demise in the late 90s. The final chapter of the book, Altering the Future, recognizes the influence formative extreme music bands have had on current death and grind acts like Nile, Nasum, Arch Enemy, etc. One of the greatest features of this book is how Mudrian's smart and seemingly effortless writing style compliments the exhaustive interviews he's conducted with members of the death metal scene. The unique thing about this book is that the vast majority of its content is all culled from interviews from the musicians, promoters, producers, and artists who were there, making the scene. This gives the book a very genuine, omniscient feel, which at some points lends itself to humor. Another great thing about Choosing Death is the inclusion of so many old flyers, album covers and band photos. It's hard to turn a page without getting another glimpse at what these bands looked like during their prime.

As some reviewers have pointed out, Mudrian's scope of death metal does skew a little heavily toward four biggies in the scene: Carcass, Death, Morbid Angel, and Napalm Death. But I don't feel this was an unfair decision; realistically, these four bands are what defined the genre from an early stage, and its story could not properly be told without giving these acts due credit. Second-wave bands like Entombed, Deicide, At the Gates, Obituary, et. al are also given a close look over, but the real gem in this book is learning about all the underground DM bands I might never have heard of without reading this book. Peripheral metal groups like Repulsion, Autopsy, Grave, Siege and Nihilist are all given several pages (instead of a few cursory sentences) examining their contributions to the genre. Whether you've heard of these lesser known acts or not (most of them were new to yours truly before this book), Choosing Death is your key to unlocking more than you probably ever wanted to know about death metal's woolly history.

One great decision Mudrian made was the inclusion of three appendices in his encyclopedia de metallica. The first one, Cast of Characters, is in the beginning of the book (just before legendary radio producer John Peel's fascinating introduction), and is there to help the reader keep track of the many names that occur again and again in the book's 284 pages. Following the body of the book is a 'Life After Death' section which keeps tabs on where the scene's living causalities wound up after leaving the underground, as well as an awesome 'Choosing Death Essential Discography'. I have actually taken my copy of Choosing Death into my local record shop more than once to remind me of which classic death metal albums my collection is missing (trust me, based on their list alone, my collection is looking pretty shrimpy).

The only gripe I have about Choosing Death is its lack of focus on grindcore. With the notable exception of Napalm Death, whose storied career acts almost as a sturdy timeline as the book progresses, few grindcore acts are given much in-depth coverage. Some important bands get a brief shout-out or two (Brutal Truth, Extreme Noise Terror, Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed), but after the first couple of chapters, the book focuses almost solely on the advancement of the death genre, and grindcore progenitors are left unexamined toward the end of the book. Another disadvantage of this book is its publishing date; since being published in 2004, extreme music has experienced quite a resurgence, and some of the cream of today's death metal crop weren't even formed or widely noticed four years ago. Then again, this is a slight shortcoming at best, since the book is really meant to offer an in-depth examination into what paths the genre's first and best acts took, and in that sense, it delivers the goods on every page.

Before reading Choosing Death, I had a moderate interest in a few of the bands covered within, and a passing knowledge on those I wasn't so crazy about. After reading the book, I feel much closer to being a bona fide headbanging expert to this interesting cult of popular music history. Whether you just bought your first Carcass album, or were one of the dudes in the pit at those formative Napalm Death shows in Birmingham, there's guaranteed enjoyment in picking up this book. I'd also recommend the superb Choosing Death soundtrack cd as the perfect companion piece. This book would also make an awesome gift for any self-respecting metalhead who does not currently possess it! Bottom line, Choosing Death is extremely informative, flawlessly written, and a ton of fun. What are you doing without it?
Educational Grinding  Jun 27, 2007
This book is fantastic. Documenting the history of grind and death metal as if it were a part of world history. Precedent setting bands, revolutionaries, and the sort, are all featured. Of course, the big names reoccur much more often than the others, such as Napalm Death, Carcass, Morbid Angel, etc. But this book does not forget bands like Crass, Heresy, Carnage, and the like, who gave grind that push up hill. One hell of a documentary, and made me want to go out, see a show, and grind my damn brain in! GET THIS BOOK!
A good history of an underground sound.  Apr 1, 2007
I picked up this book knowing I don't like the early death metal bands like Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse, but reading about them still entertained me enough to get through the book in three sittings. This book focuses mostly on the tape-trading days to the '80s and how death metal grew out of being an obscure form of hardcore-meets-thrash metal music genre to ending up a relatively popular style in the early '90s. It says very little about the late '90s, probably because death metalheads feared their style was dying out at that time, only to be resurrected into popularity by bands like Arch Enemy and In Flames (this is overviewed in the final chapter).

What I like almost more than the book's main content (a pieced-together timeline from interviews of significant people), there's a recommended album list in the back for every year up to 2003. This should be an absolute must for music history books, so people like me that were born after the fact can go back and see what the style sounded like for our forerunners.

Basically, anyone that listens to extreme music today can get a profound understanding of where things like blast beats and growling/screaming vocals came from. This book would go well with Lords of Chaos, although this one deals more with the music overall while Lords of Chaos mainly deals with the early '90s criminals of the black metal underground.
Grinding Death Trip Down Memory Lane  Dec 16, 2006
Albert Mudrian, editor-in-chief of Decibel magazine, one of the best music magazines out there today, pens an excellent celebration of the darkest, fastest, and most intense music out there: death metal (and grindcore). Mudrian's format is simple, for a reason. It streamlines the vast reams of information within these genres and pares it down to the true essence of the keys bands - Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Carcass - and the key record label - Earache Records.

I used to spin records for the imaginatively titled "Metal Show" at the University of Texas college radio station, KTSB (now KVRX), from 1988-1990, right when the grindcore/death metal movement first appeared in the United States. CHOOSING DEATH brought back numerous amazing memories for me such as the time I received the Napalm Death SCUM LP at the radio station; when I saw Sepultura's first U.S. show at the DK Zone at the CMJ Music Fest in NYC; and also when I met Digby Pearson and Martin Nesbitt of Earache Records at the same convention. As one of the first college radio DJs to spin the majority of these bands that appear in this book, I loved learning even more about these groundbreaking musicians. And I thought I knew it all!

Mudrian's research is impeccable, his writing is tight, and his subject matter rules. CHOOSING DEATH may not please every metal fanatic out there, but then we're a picky and bitchy lot, aren't we?

Kudos to Mudrian for an excellent piece of work.

Not going to please everyone...  Mar 1, 2006
A book like this is never going to please everyone, least of all the highly contentious and constantly pushing/shoving metal underground, where a rite of passage is learning the unofficial "history" of different genres. Still, it's good enough for people new to these forms of music and offers some interesting new information from personal interviews. Trivia, maybe, but most of this is just the history of developing artists and the "sound" they were working with, so it's interesting in that way, and music lovers who are new to these forms of metal will probably have their enjoyment deepened by a little understanding. Any work that acts to remove chunks of the dominant misunderstandings and misinterpretations of metal musicians is worth it, in my opinion. Check it out.

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