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

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,335 Ratings  ·  69 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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Dec 03, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it
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
Feb 18, 2011 Nigel rated it it was ok
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
Ben Hart
May 05, 2013 Ben Hart rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Oct 17, 2007 Chris rated it liked it
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
Mar 11, 2013 Vish Singh rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-bass
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
Feb 11, 2017 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
Superb synthesis of tons of information, interviews, etc. I could have used a little more analysis of the music itself.
Nov 06, 2016 Mike rated it liked it
A Must Read for anyone coming into the genre of metal after the 90s & 00s, as well as those who were around during it.
I belong to the former, but through some of the interviews I definitely get a taste of the nostalgia for those returning or wanting to relive that era.

Choosing Death gives all the building blocks, brick, and mortar for essentially all the current metal genres currently being played.
It's fascinating to see the intertwining threads of musicians, record labels, and personaliti
Apr 23, 2015 Danny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Revised and Expanded Edition (2015).

This book met my expectations for a history of death metal, but did not blow me away. The cycles of birth, death, and revival of the genre were presented quite clearly in chronological order, often delineated by chapter, and the long view of the overall journey of extreme metal was pretty interesting.

What really bogged down the narrative was the seemingly endless list every chapter of founding band members, who left the band, who replaced them, how much they f
Dale Jr.
Sep 25, 2012 Dale Jr. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, music, 4-star
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.
Jan 28, 2008 Guy rated it really liked it
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
John Pesina
One of my new favorite oral histories on the growth of one of my new favorite subgenres of heavy metal. It does a few things that "Lords of Chaos", another metal book I read earlier in the year, could have done better. It does its best to get as many voices as possible for the sake of relaying the history of a musical movement rather than backing up a thesis; "Lords of Chaos" really wanted to push the sensational narrative of how black metal was a sign of an increasingly militant and violent sub ...more
May 07, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: metalheads, death metalheads, Glen Benton
Recommended to John by:
Here's the review on Choosing Death that I wrote for, 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
Jan 19, 2017 Jsavett1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is gonna be short. Among all the many varied genres of music I love, I have a special place in my heart for Metal in general and Death Metal in particular. This book is a history of Death Metal and its cousin Grindcore. It was awesome.

I'm very lonely obviously ;)
Jun 28, 2017 Dvdlynch rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, music
Not nearly as interesting as one might think, given the subject matter. I found it to be downright dry for most of it's length.
Sep 26, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
I was expecting a bit more from this book. Choosing Death was an entertaining read until the two remaining chapters. While it was interesting to read about the record labels in the beginning I did not care much for the end or the massive opinions of those labels. Clearly record labels will claim that they did all they could for a band, but having many friends who are musicians I know differently. It was really sad to read how shameless some of these record label executives are when they mentione ...more
Mar 18, 2017 Dwightfryed rated it it was ok
Surprised how this reads like a fanboy story from the Napalm Death fanclub. Yes, they were innovators, but never held a candle to many bands barely / not mentioned here like Dismember, Entombed, Malevolent Creation etc.

The Carcass stories are great, and the chapter about dm becoming mainstream and the record companies sad attempts to "market" it ( Wolverine album cover, etc) were entertaining.

In no way is this a history of gc/dm.
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
Brannan Hayes
Aug 27, 2012 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
May 07, 2012 Simon rated it it was ok
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
Laura Méndez
Oct 07, 2014 Laura Méndez rated it liked it
Music has always fascinated me. Its power to infest our human brains and drive us through emotions as diverse as the patterned (even unpatterned) arrange of sounds and silences that is possible. (What is music and what is noise?) I became interested in any form of extreme music since I first discovered the feeling of being somehow disgusted, terrorised or appalled by music content. These fascination goes along with the captivation with extreme, sociopathic, violent and raging behaviour and/or id ...more
Robb Bridson
Jan 30, 2015 Robb Bridson rated it liked it
This book goes back and forth between interesting and dull. It takes a stance that is neither a macro-level view of the death metal phenomenon or a biopic of its key players-- it's more like a VH1 documentary, fueled by clips of interviews. It's focus is very heavy on the business.

It doesn't help that death metal bands are, for the most part, normal guys. They started the bands as teenagers and acted like teenagers.
The Americans were just suburban kids with different tastes, like I was. The Brit
Ryan Mishap
Sep 01, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it liked it
Shelves: music
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
Jan 28, 2015 Nosmo rated it really liked it
A really in-depth look at the scenes that founded modern death metal. The focus on particular bands while passing over other bands is a little frustrating (particularly the soft touch Death are given), although I can't imagine remedying this being possible given the scope of the task. The writing style is very accessible and the tone is quite fitting for music journalism generally.

The extensive use of photos of bands etc helps showcase how incredibly young some of the bands were, and also some
May 05, 2010 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 25, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2014 Szymon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf
Książka ciekawa, bogata w wiele ciekawych historii pokazujących jak rodziła się scena death metalu i grindcore'a, ale... czegoś brakuje. Niektórym twórcom poświęcono wiele miejsca (Napalm Death), niektórym ani za mało ani za dużo, choć pozostał pewien niedosyt (Morbid Angel, Death), o niektórych nawet nie wspomniano lub ledwie wspomniano w kilku zdaniach (Vader). Zdaję sobie sprawę, że jeśliby opisać w najdrobniejszych szczegółach historię całego gatunku, książka miałaby nie 300, a 2300 stron. M ...more
Mar 23, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 17, 2015 Augusto rated it really liked it
Shelves: não-ficção, musica
Livrinho bem divertido, nada muito substancial. Se sobressai com relatos interessantes com vários protagonistas. É gostoso lembrar que essas bandas grandes do underground mundial começaram (e terminaram) de maneira muito similar às nossas quando éramos jovens.

Vez ou outra surgem umas picuinhas meio fofoquinha entre/inter bandas, mas foi uma experiência válida. Decai substancialmente nos últimos dois capítulos, onde há uma análise breve demais do declínio comercial/cultural (em certo sentido) do
Jan 21, 2012 Spencer rated it it was amazing
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
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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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