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Review: Only Death Is Real: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and Early Celtic Frost 1981-1985
Book Review
Only Death Is Real: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and Early Celtic Frost 1981-1985
Publisher: Bazillion Points
Author: Tom Gabriel Fischer
Year published: 2010
ISBN: 0979616395
Pages: 288

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: October 20, 2010
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Only Death Is Real: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and Early Celtic Frost 1981-1985

Rated 4.57/5 (91.43%) (7 Votes)

It's been a while since I last reviewed a book about Heavy Metal. When I saw that Tom G. Warrior had written a book about Hellhammer, I just had to have it. Are You Morbid?, the Celtic Frost biography published 10 years ago was a very good read and I was hoping for something similar. This is somewhat different, but in a good way.

First of all, I had not checked the dimensions and was surprised to see how big this book is, and with a hardcover one at that. "An Illustrated History..." is not an exaggeration: There are a lot of photos in there – band members, friends, Hellhammer-related art (demos, EPs, flyers, etc.) That takes up a lot of space in the book and as a result, in terms of amount of text, there is much less to read here than there was in Are You Morbid? Considering that Hellhammer had a much shorter lifespan, that makes sense. The good thing is that there isn't any "filler material" here, while there was a bit of that in the Celtic Frost book.

Tom does a great job recounting the story in writing. I wasn't planning on reading this right away and just took it out to check a few of the first pages, and the next thing I know I was halfway through the book. That's what you call a page-turner. I found that the way the story is recounted, combined with the frequency of the photos in the book, made me feel as if I was just standing next to these guys as the events took place 25-30 years ago. Lots of details about how the band came to be and the struggle to get it going – and keep it going. Comments by other people – band members – are added as necessary after specific subjects and events are introduced by Tom.

I was expecting the book to end kind of abruptly, but it still surprised me when I go to the end, especially since there were a lot of pages left (that's where you enter into a plethora of pictures and art/flyers/etc.) And basically that's where Only Death is Real ends and you should pick up Are You Morbid? to get the rest of the story. I highly recommend this to anyone with even the remotest interest in Hellhammer or the beginnings of the extreme metal scene.

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