Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore
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Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  871 ratings  ·  48 reviews
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.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Feral House
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,696)
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Mark
A decidedly minor sub-genre of rock gets the mainstream treatment in "Choosing Death," a book whose lucid storytelling and good humor almost succeed in camouflaging the fact that its subject is bands obsessed with genocide, cruelty, violence and, well, death. This book was loaned to me by a friend who's the assistant concertmaster in the local symphony; I have another friend who's an executive at a non-profit who listens to the Liquid Metal XM channel; and I've recently met yet another friend wh...more
Ben Hart
Well researched account of the history of Death Metal and Grindcore, I'm not the biggest fan of either but know about the major players (Napalm Death, Carcass, Death etc) which are given a lot of attention here. One thing I found interesting was how "analogue" the scene was back then, something that seems totally alien to today's MP3 sharing culture where you can hear music from kids in West Africa and South America just as easily as the latest Lady Gaga release - the Grindcore scene especially...more
Nigel
Hard to give a rating to this one. Some of the interviews, especially the stuff with the guys from Siege and the engineer who did their sessions, have some really interesting quotes and give some great insight into the early days of extreme metal. I'd probably give the first few chapters a 4/5. However, around chapter 4 or 5, the focus shifts drastically, and the remainder of the text plods along with an excruciatingly in-depth account of major label death metal shenanigans and a vomit-inducing...more
Chris
As I said to some friend of mine or another when I was reading this, I never thought I'd see the day where I'd utter the phrase, "this historical account of grindcore and death metal is kind of underwhelming."
Vish Singh
I originally did a write-up of this book on my blog, a little more than a year ago. Here's most of the text from my initial review. A link to the blog entry is provided at the bottom of this review.

Two nights ago, Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore, by Albert Mudrian came in. I actually tore into it before she did. I really enjoyed the book. Years ago, when I read Lords of Chaos, I was really impressed by the writing. The authors, Moynihan and Soderlind, are both...more
Dale Jr.
An incredible read and comprehensive history of death metal, grind metal, and its various contributing genres. You get history and stories from all the major players surrounding the genre both here in the states (specifically the California and Florida scenes) and in Europe. Mudrian did an excellent job here and you'd be hard pressed to find a better book on the subject.
Kurt Adam
This is a book that covers the rise (and somewhat fall) of Death Metal and Grindcore. If those terms don't mean anything to you (or have negative connotations), there's nothing much here of interest (unlike, say, The Lords of Chaos). If you do have an interest, then it's a decently detailed accounting of many of the seminal bands from those genres (and those that inspired or were inspired by them). There's also quite a bit of detail on the early days of Earache Records. Some of the other labels...more
Simon
Maybe this felt as something of a disappointment because I've already been spoiled by the bits and pieces I've read from Daniel Ekeroth's book on the Swedish death metal scene, but I didn't find this very enlightening. This book might be a useful primer on the history of death metal to beginners, but having been a fan of the genre since high school it didn't really tell me much I didn't already know. Most of the new information concerns the business side of how things worked behind the scenes, a...more
Guy
Lang haar, zwarte kledij, gorgelzang, gebrek aan melodie, gebrek aan structuur, gebrek aan competentie, onbeluisterbaar lawaai, Satanisme, publiek dat bekogeld wordt met ingewanden. Het beeld dat de gemiddelde mens heeft van death metal (en het verwante grindcore, dat nauwer aansluit bij hardcore punk) is doorgaans ver verwijderd van een dagje Bobbejaanland (met of zonder Kim Clijsters). Natuurlijk zijn er een aantal dingen die gewoon kloppen (er was wel degelijk een fascistoïde dress code voor...more
Robert Beveridge
Albert Mudrian, Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (Feral House, 2004)

It is, quite simply, impossible to go wrong with any book that begins with a teenaged Mick Harris meeting up with a teenaged Justin Broadrick while trolling their local record store in the early eighties for Throbbing Gristle albums. History was made in a little English town when the two of them, along with a couple of pals, formed a band that would ultimately be named Napalm Death, and would s...more
John
May 21, 2008 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: metalheads, death metalheads, Glen Benton
Recommended to John by: Decibelmag.com
Here's the review on Choosing Death that I wrote for Amazon.com, namechecks and all. I seriously doubt any of my Goodreads friends whill EVER be inclined to read this book, but if you're looking to brush up on your extreme music trivia, look no further. Awesome (unintentionally hilarious) promo photos, too!

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 de...more
Brannan Hayes
Feb 27, 2013 Brannan Hayes marked it as to-read
For my book i read " the history of death metal and grindcore" I was very happy to find a book about something i love. I learned that death metal originated from punk, and people in death metal only got their stuff out by tape trading unless they were sighned. Which meant people actually recorded demo cassette tapes and had pen pals they traded them with. It was very underground. One band named called Napalm Death, originally sounded like Clash, but they wanted to be faster, so they sped it up....more
Ryan Mishap
Readers may be surprised to find Mudrian tracing grind and death metal’s roots to Discharge and other political punk. I was surprised that so many early European death metal outfits had punk and hardcore as their starting points in the underground. One can imagine a different outcome, a future where death and extreme metal became political and community minded rather than misanthropic, gory, and often misogynist. Ah, well, and it isn’t a surprise that in the United States bands went for the sick...more
Heather
This is definitely one of those books that is written for fans, so unless you have an interest in metal to begin with or are currently working on your dissertation regarding youth/underground/extreme movements and the socio-economic/political ramifications of such movements, skip this one. However, even if you have just a passing interest in death metal this is required reading. this book isn't trying to change the world or pick apart the relevance of death metal and what it says about human nat...more
Christopher
A well-researched and smartly-written book. Rather than just plodding along chronologically, Mudrian focuses intently on a handful of bands and labels that shaped these genres. Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Earache records, and the people and groups surrounding them are the backbone of this history, and he quotes liberally from face-to=face interviews with those involved. The first hundred pages are pretty fascinating, as you're able to witness an entire genre of music being born. It's easy to for...more
Scott
Highly reccomended for anyone who is curious about the history of extreme music. I feel weird giving 5 stars to a music book (I mean, it's not like it changed the discourse on modern artistic expression or anything), but given the limited appeal of the subject matter at hand I don't see how the author couldn't have done much better. There are a few bands mentioned briefly that probably could have been left out all together, but that's nitpicking. Very well-researched, but yet written in a style...more
Patrick
Choosing Death is a functional, if not thrilling, introduction to the cross-pollinated genres that emerged in the early 1980's as thrash began influencing hardcore punk and vice versa. With Napalm Death effectively inventing grindcore in England and a handful of bands in Florida pushing technical metal to its limit, extreme metal had a very swift rise -- grind bands played on BBC radio, for crying out loud -- and fall from grace in the 1980's. This book is a bit dry and full of quotes by the mai...more
Spencer
Reading this book, the trajectory of the extreme music genre of death metal arcs like a Roman candle. Sparks singe your skin and smoke burns your eyes, but you don't care; your eyes are wide. Writer and fanboy Albert Mudrian constructs a narrative through interviews and quotes that put the reader right in the middle of the death/grind explosion. Perhaps this book is for fans only, but it is also for anyone who asks "whatever happened to 'real' punk music?" Provided is a recommended discography w...more
Cristian Ermurache
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Bobby
Dec 12, 2011 Bobby rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
If you like death metal then you'll like the book. It contains some genre history, some interesting facts, and some occasionally illuminating quotes from some of the biggest bands in the early days of death metal. Napalm Death, Carcass, and Obituary feature heavily. Not nearly enough emphasis on the Swedish and Euro-death scenes but all together a decent overview of the scene in the late 80s and early 90s.
Paul
Aug 22, 2012 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
A nice overview of early grindcore and death metal that is well worth the time if you are a fan of those genres. Lot's behind the scenes info and what not. the book focus's pretty heavily on Napalm Death and extreme noise terror, morbid angel and death. it does kinda short change newer acts, although it does provide an appendix of records to listen to by year of release, which is pretty on point.
Pragmatic
this book is exactly what it claims to be: a history of death metal and grindcore. there is little analysis or commentary, but it goes into great detail of who-did-what-when. it is illustrated throughout with band photos, posters, album artwork and other such pictures. there is a list of definitive albums & artists at the end.

i'd say this is a good read for any amateur musicologist!
Chris
For anyone into the above listed genre's of music, this book tells it's history from start to present day without missing a step.

It's a who-did-what-when of metal's most extreme moments, given in chronological form from it's conception in England in the early 1980's to it's near-fatal downfall in the mid-1990's to it's rise to glory with the new millenium.
Alex
Jun 10, 2007 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: metal
this is fucking great. a history of grindcore and death metal, with tons of pictures, album info, interviews and everything. from the obscure to the extremely obscure, you can't pass this up, especially if you like napalm death, repulsion, terrorist, death, or about a hundred other key bands! UUUUUURRRRGH!
Daniel Drago
An amazing history on Death Metal and Grindcore that is very in depth. You are bound to learn something from this brilliant exploration into one of the most extreme forms of music. Mainly focuses on Napalm Death, Morbid Angel and Death who are the forefathers who gave birth to one of my favorite genre's.
Etan
An excellent general history of the early days of death metal and grindcore, with some choice interviews with the founding fathers and exploration of forgotten architects. I only wish that it had an index for easier navigation, and delved deeper into the philosophy and social history of death metal.
Daniel
i found the history behind seminal grindcore bands such as Carcass and Napalm Death incredibly informative and endlessly interesting. better yet was going back and listening to the aforementioned bands and loving them more than ever. especially Carcass' Reek Of Putrefaction. brilliant!
Paul Jeffrey
Extremely captivating history of death metal and grindcore. Should be an interesting read for anyone interested in fringe subcultures. Mundrian has a talent for making an interesting story out of any situation and delivers unknown facts to even the most seasoned metal veteran.
Jorge
If you grew up listening to this stuff early on when it all started, then you'll enjoy this book. This book brought a lot of good memories and I also learned a lot from things I didn't know. Definitely a great book for you if you're into this awesome genre of music.
Dainis Mazkaļķis
1/3 about Napalm Death ... wheh, and not a single word about Dutch scene or Austrian ... otherwise, really good book about (underground) music business - could recoment it to anyone who likes music in general and are interested in ''how things happened'' there
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“We were playing this music and we were trying to be the heaviest thing on the face of the planet. We wanted just to piss people off and send everybody home. and that can't be, like, flower metal." - Possessed's Jeff Beccera on coining the term 'death metal” 1 likes
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