Death Metal Epic I: The Inverted Katabasis (2013)
Review by Jude Felton
It wasn’t all that long ago that I was thinking that the world needs a good novel based around the world of death metal. I shit you not! Although, I will admit, my line of thought was more behind the graphic imagery behind the subgenre, and based in a more fantastical world, but that’s just me. However, Dean Swinford, with his first novel, has taken death metal and incorporated it into a thoroughly engrossing novel.
Being that this is Part 1, with Part 2 in the works, I can tell you right now that this story won’t deliver you a traditional beginning, middle and end story arc. Instead, I felt it served more of an intro to what I hope will be a much bigger picture. Don’t let that dissuade you though, as it’s a damned fun, and quick, read, that you’ll fairly skim through.
In The Inverted Katabasis we follow the exploits of David, a young fellow who currently works in a bookstore in Florida. He also happens to be a member of Valhalla, a death metal band with one album in their back pocket and little else going for them. The members have seemingly gone their own way, leaving David to ponder his future in music.
However, a chance meeting with “The Bard” will soon change the course of his life, when between the two of them they take death metal in a whole new direction, and subsequently head off to tour the toilets of Europe.
As with any good novel there is a lot more background and substance to the story, but what I have outlined is the basic premise, and it will leave you hungry for more.
Now, death metal is a niche within a niche, so there are plenty of references, comments and whole chunks of the tale that will be completely lost on those that aren’t acquainted with this most brutal of music. Being a fan myself made it far easier, and more enjoyable, to read, as I knew exactly what Swinford was going on about. So, this does lead me to question whether those without any knowledge of death metal, or extreme metal in general, will get any enjoyment out of it. I will, hesitantly, say yes, purely due to the author’s writing style, which makes it very easy to read. You might not get the references, but the story is still fun.
Fans of the genre, who are in all likelihood the target audience, will get far more out of this tale. It was written by a fan of the genre, from way back, and this passion has been poured into The Inverted Katabasis, and you can tell this when reading it.
If I had any complaints about it, it would be that I am currently waiting for the second book in the series, and I have no idea when it will be released! So, if you are looking for a quick and entertaining read, look no further than Death Metal Epic 1; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Death Metal Epic I: The Inverted Katabasis is published by Atlatl Press.