The ‘Encyclopedia Of Svensk Döds Metall’ is the Eldorado of each old tapetraper and fans of the Swedish Death Metal days when demos were more interesting than albums. It was a great time as the music recorded during the period 1988-92 is still timeless great and beats most of the actual Death Metal recordings by far! No discussions here, point! Nicola Costantini, probably one of the most enthusiastic tapetraders on this planet, is the author of this perfectly called encyclopaedia of Swedish Death Metal and was kind enough to answer our questions. Unfortunately the times Nicola wrote about won’t come back again, but all of us who were involved in the scene back then will never forgot how great these days were and often look back to those days. A book like this brings back great memories! Buy the book if you were one of those old-timers or buy the book if you are too young and would like to know how the scene was like. Read what Nicola has to say!
Hi Nicola, thanks for showing interest in answering my questions. Anything important to start with?
"Well, here it’s pretty ok I’ve to tell you. I’m getting a good response from the underground so I’m satisfied. Thank you to give me space on your mighty Teutonic Web Zine!"
Tell something about the underground maniac Nicola Costantini!
"Well, personally I never paid much attention to easily glorifying gods… I mean, I lose interest in a band when it receives worldwide recognition. I love the roots of the bands as I think that when you’re adolescent your have the best ideas, you put your whole energy in the right direction. When business takes place, instead, your insane passion fades away… I often mention a sentence by Dale Carnegie, who is by the way a software developer, which says "People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing". That’s true! We could list a thousand bands who failed after they try to get profit from what they were doing. So I belong to underground and feel comfortable with tapes, vinyls and I don’t care that much of the mainstream. I barely read glossy magazines while you can always find good oldschool xeroxed zines near my bed."
I was one time in Padova, your hometown. What kind of Metal-town is Padova?
"Basically, you know, here in Italy there’s no scene. Few likes Metal and all in all we’ve almost below average outfits. Anyway Padova has been ‘famous’ for EVOL which achieved a worldwide respect thankfully to the French Adipocere Records. Their 1st demo “The Tale Of The Horned King” demo 11/93 was amazing. Give it a try if you’ve the chance!"
The reason for this interview is for sure your great book "Encyclopedia Of Svensk Döds Metall". A great title! What was the reason why you thought you have to write a book? What drove you to do this massive effort?
"The title came from an idea of me and Martin Madelid a Metal worshipper from Örebro. Of course behind all this there’s true passion! Nothing more… I started this endless effort way back in the end of 2005 with the unique aim to gain respect within the underground. I spent my last 20 years collecting everything which came from Sweden; I’m so crazy that I buy also old Swedish zines written in an incomprehensible Swedish language: seeing cool photos on poor xeroxed white papers is enough for me to waste money! Add that I was there in those great years as I spent my summers in Stockholm during the 90s (of course with the aim to buy the greatest amount of demos I could). So I can tell you that Sweden is kind of a second country for me and I’m planning to return there again."
You spend more than 2 years on this book. Were there times where you thought that you can't finish the book?
"Definitely yes. Well, first the idea was only to collect some interviews with my heroes. But then I realized it would have been something ‘common’ to do just a ‘normal’ zine so I decided to go on exhuming all my full collection giving space also to the minor acts. In the end the main fear was to find an editor and to manage the fiscal side of the matter. Here in Italy you can’t (for fiscal reason) have a profit coming from an own activity if you’ve a subordinate job. So I was not sure to find a proper publisher who was interested in releasing it."
An encyclopaedia has the requirement to be as close to complete as possible. How complete in regards of Swedish Death Metal between 1988-92 is your encyclopaedia?
"Well looking now after 2 months from the release I can see something missed, minor acts like BLACK CRUSADER, FORSAKEN GRIEF, ETERNAL TORMENT… but let see these are really tiny stars in the blazing sky; In my mind there’s an idea to do a second release later…with more interviews adding also the missing ones." (That’s great news! – Thomas)
What was the reason to only use bands and recordings between this period? There were many great demos released after 1992. What do you think about the time 1993 and later? How did you spent the years 1994-2006 were not so much talked about the underground?
"Well, the underground after 1992 was no more the same. First, cause from 1993 to 2000 we didn’t get any serious Death acts at all as we were surrounded but too many Black Metal outfits. Then came the internet thing… so no real underground anymore!!! During the time-window you mentioned, I started using the ‘Wayback machine’ ah ah!! If you see my trading list you can see mainly thousand rehs/demos/live shows of the heydays. Nevertheless we got also other cool acts like CHILDREN OF BODOM for instance. So I can pick for my tastes very few acts after that year... Or if you prefer you could put in this way: I’m an old Deathrash bastard so what belongs to my puberty sounds better to me…"
Musicbooks are pretty rare, and me as a huge fan of them is craving for each release available. "Choosing Death", "Swedish Death Metal" and partially "Lords Of Chaos" are amazing. What do you think about these publications and what do you still miss and looking out for?
"Well, the underground ‘world’ is full of mystique… I mean only if you’re a die-hard zine collector you’ve a whole idea of what was boiling back then. So a Death Metal book could help those who had not the chance to read the old xeroxed. So they give you the chance to have a good vision of what is behind the Metal market. Daniel Ekeroth’s book is an amazing stuff and I enjoyed a lot the reading of it. Especially the first sections where he speaks about the TRASH BASH series managed by Robban Becirovic, the Bajsligan league, the first steps of MORBID, NIHILIST and TREBLINKA. Buy it NOW! Since July 2008 there’s also a cheapest deathluxe edition by Ian Christe."
When did you start with the whole underground topic?
"Well, I started listening to Metal at the age of 14. Then I discovered the amazing underground thing around 89… I remember I got a tiny flyer from a friend of mine (later one of the guys behind EVOL). I asked him what it was so in a while I started wasting money sending letters worldwide. Basically I’ve been almost a die-hard tapetrader. At home, beside the originals, I’ve something like 1500 recorded tapes ah ah!! It’s very difficult to storage them all! And I’m still into tapetrading, ONLY with the true maniacs (special hails to Pepo Passath (AUT) (unbelievable, this was one of my first contacts back in the days, anyone remembers his cool Neurotic zine? – Thomas), Daniel Risser (FRA), Niklas Johansson (SWE), Rodrigo Jiménez (CHI) ). TAPES!! NO CDRS!!"
Tell something about this guy Giuliano Mosca which brought you to Death Metal. Is he still into this type of music?
"Giuliano Mosca… ah ah!! This guy was a school mate of mine who worships everything which belongs to Thrash. Right now he got married and had 2 nice babies, but he still wears his BRUTAL TRUTH cap and ASPHYX t-shirt. Back then we used to meet each other every Saturday afternoon in a local Metal store. The aim was to trade tapes (even if Giuliano often cut the demos in the end of sides which made me screaming!!) and spoke about the new comers… I still remember that I got to know about IMMOLATION from a 89 gig that I got through those crazy Saturday tapes…. Besides that Giuliano was in contact with two guys, older than us, who wasted the equivalent of nowadays 1000€ (unbelievable you could say!) on Metal stuff EACH month. Believe it or not they were used to buy EVERYTHING concerning Metal which was put out from any labels: they had everything, and when I say everything I mean everything… any bands from Thrash to Death, from Grind to Hardcore. One of these turned out to have a Metal shop himself in Padova and nowadays, for what I know, is the manager of NECRODEATH (not sure at all on this topic). At that age I went to school and so I had the chance to buy only one LP each week. So through mighty Mosca I had the possibility to listen to almost everything."
You are 36 years old which means that you got to know the glory of the Death Metal days. The most creative time was between the years 1988-92 and that's what you pointed out in your book. How does it feel to have been a part of it?
"Well, I’m totally homesick of that period. It’s a pity I got full involved in the underground after 1990 so I lost the first heydays. The most frustrating thing in that period was that I loved almost everything I heard but I could barely have 1% of what was cool."
You had a fanzine called 'Disincarnate' in the early nineties. Tell something about it.
"All started in 1990. In the beginning it was only a compilation-tape dealing mainly with the Swedish scene (the illness started early…). So you could say my Swedish worshipping started nearly 20 years ago. My heroes back then were KOITO and THANATHOGRAPHY (managed by Roberto Mammarella later boss of Obscure Plasma / Avantgarde Rec.) (both great fanzines - Thomas) two well-known Italian zines who made the difference. If you never saw them, check out THANATHOGRAPHY # 4: its 100 A4 pages, only dealing with Scandinavian Death Metal. AMAZING! (totally agree here, one of the best issue of a fanzine ever – Thomas). It was a hell raising period. I received something like 20 packs everyday. I was in contact in regular basis with Niklas Sundin (DARK TRANQUILLITY), Heval Bozarslan (SARCASM), Niklas Johansson (GOETIA / THRASHING HOLOCAUST zine) and many others. In the beginning I was alone in that project then came the help of Andrea Donadon (actually he plays guitar in ALGOL) and Andrea Merlin (who is by the way the drawer of my book's cover). The project lasted 6 years from 90 to 96. Then I got graduated at University and started working hard…so I’ve no more spare time to do that and sincerely I was losing the interest with the coming of Goth, Rot‘n’Roll and mainly useless Black Metal. Besides the compilation tape and the zine I managed also (of course) a distro list dealing again with Swedish stuff (I sold stuff from MEMORIUM, VERMIN, SARCASM, DARK TRANQUILLITY…)."
What do you think made these bands of that period your book deals with as special as we think they are?
"Well this is easy… they were the pioneers of the downtuned Death Metal. What came later were only good or bad copies of the originals."
Everyone can see the logos of bands as MASTICATION, CEREMONIAL OATH, EUCHARIST, CREMATORY or GOREMENT (to name just a few) on your cover of the book. These logos are still timeless original. Do you think they were part of the attraction?
"The fun thing back then was that each band tried to have the coolest logo. And often they were unreadable. I remember many times looking to flyer and not understanding which was the name of the new band. My favourite logo is that of DARKIFIED with the devil figure that surrounds the crosses. Then I could add for sure that of UNLEASHED my favourite Swedish band of all times."
I can remember that the first time I could read my name on a thanklist was one of the most exciting moments in my life, haha. What was your greatest moment when talking about the underground movement?
"Ah ah!! Cool to have stolen your smile for a while! Well each time I see my name on the thanklist on a CD of a band which I respect is a great moment for me. “Tales From The Tomb” of EVOCATION is a great piece of döds… ‘cause I’m on the thanklist… ah ah!! I still remember clearly the day I got DAMNATION’s “Divine Darkness” for a review for my zine directly from Björn Gramell . You know that demo is stunning! "
As an old tape trader myself I wonder how huge your collection is? Do you mostly go for original copies? Aren't you afraid that time destroys the tapes? I'd say they have an almost unpayable value… Which one is the piece which is the most important one to your heart?
"I do not sleep at night… I’ve to tell you that tapes have a long life more than I could expect. It’s important the place where you use to storage them. The first rules to follow should be no light and no high temperatures. Secondly I always refused bad brands and asked for TDK or Sony tapes better if Type II / Position Chrome which lasted more. I’ve tapes that are 20 years old which play perfectly. Bad to tell that Maxell tapes, notwithstanding a good reputation, are the worst one concerning this topic. Funny to mention I used to buy stock of 100 tapes each times!! The men of the shops were puzzled of the pile looking me scared!! Today I try to refuse the CDR format which have a very short living. Around 5 years which is ridiculous. The most important piece? Difficult here… perhaps I would say TREBLINKA’s “Severe Abominations” 7” 89 and NECROPHOBIC's 2nd demo in 200 copies (the version released by the band itself)."
From my point of view, and that's what I wrote in my review, Oskar Dronjak from HAMMERFALL (make that CEREMONIAL OATH / CRYSTAL AGE, haha) is the winner of your book as he seems to be interested to answer all this old stuff about his band long time gone without anything getting back. Which is the interview you think turned out the best and why?
"Stronger than all. Well you’re right if you think the success Oskar is getting with HAMMERFALL (their first 2 albums rule!). Anyway my favourite interview is that with Emetic / TREBLINKA where Stefan was kind enough to go deeply into obscure topics like MONITOU, RIVER’S EDGE, the Terrible Wimp Eater and stuff. Then I’ve to underline also that with Dan Swanö. We did a very exhaustive interview in only 1 day (during a Christmas day). Thank you Dan by Dawn, you rule!"
Which bands would you have liked to be part of your book with an interview but it didn't happen because the bands didn't reply or you didn't find a way to get in touch with one of the members?
"As you might suppose it was very hard to get back all the interviews. I often waited 1 year to have it back (like those of EUCHARIST, MASTICATION). Anyway I had no hurry at all as this was only a spare-time hobby. Anyway I must say I got a good response from the bands. The ones which for a way or another never replied were: MEGA SLAUGHTER, METALION, WIM BAELUS, ABRUPTUM and MACRODEX."
How did you get in touch with all these old bands? Were all of them interested and supportive or did you also receive some arrogant and uncooperative answers?
"Sometimes I got in touch with kind of rockstar bullshit attitude or something like ‘I can’t remember’ mood. Of course the smaller bands were more supportive but all in all I can say that the Swedish guys really rule and are pretty friendly. I can recall Stefan Lagergren keeping in touch asking if I was interested in interviewing TREBLINKA. You can easily think which was my answer: “Are you kidding me?”
Which persons do you consider as the main figures behind the rise of Swedish Death Metal? For sure one main person was Nicke Anderson starting almost the whole shit
"Besides Nicke we could surely mention Leffe Cuzner (RIP)…you know he came out with the down-tuned guitar sound. Then I would add Johan Edlund (TREBLINKA), Johnny Hedlund (UNLEASHED), Dan Swanö for his golden touch at GorySound and Thomas Skogsberg. Personally I love the creativeness of Joakim Sterner…NECROPHOBIC’s second demo is for me the best ever in all the Swedish history. Then for sure you’ve to add Magnus Forsberg who had been the most intense tape-trader in Sweden back then and brought to light the Floridian masters. From the live-show side of course Robban Becirovic and his countless TRASH BASH."
What do you think is the reason that out of the uncountable amount of Swedish Death Metal bands between 1988-92 just a few got serious successful (ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, GRAVE, UNLEASHED, TIAMAT…). Which bands in your opinion deserved success, too, but never really made it?
"On the effort I’ve done a section were I mention the underrated. We must mention MACABRE END, MASTICATION, NIRVANA 2002, ABSURD, TOXAEMIA, EVOCATION, MACRODEX. In particular I’ve never understood why no one mentions ABSURD which did an overwhelming demo (the 7” on Seraphic Decay was a reprint of it) (hm, I think it’s a pretty good demo, but not at all as amazing as the stuff from the above mentioned bands. Sorry to say, Nicola! – Thomas). Also EVOCATION did an amazing demo perhaps a bit too late to have been properly noticed. About MASTICATION and NIRVANA 2002: expect a CD release for both in a few months. Has someone out there never heard carefully to FULMINATION’s “Through Fire” demo #2 11/92? Great stuff as well!"
Without a doubt there are many many classics mentioned in your book but to be honest there are many so-called cult bands mentioned which aren't really something special. Do you agree that some of the bands just became cult bands because they were one of the first?
"Yes that’s true… Anyway you’re asking this question to a Sunlight maniac like I am ah ah. Many of them were just only good copies of the others. Just take the examples of the above mentioned bands MASTICATION and NIRVANA 2002. Their demos are total cult stuff, I would NEVER sell my originals for anything… but all in all, NIRVANA 2002 were almost a clone of ENTOMBED and MASTICATION did just great Sunlight tunes with nothing revolutionary. But hell! Who cares? Give me thousand MASTICATION demos… one each day till I’ll be rotting in grave!"
In the beginning of the 90s many disliked the so-called Sunlight clones, but with the distance of approx. 18 years we have to admit that 80-90% of the recordings done in Sunlight Studios were really impressive. Were you also one of these guys which got annoyed because of "all Sunlight-bands sounding the same"?
"Absolutely not. I still remember when I bought the EVOCATION demo from Osmose Productions' distro-list. When I got it the first thing I did was to record it on a second tape to be sure to listen to it thousand times. ‘Desolated Spirits’ (one of the enclosed songs of “The Ancient Gate” demo #1 92) is an overwhelming track with lovely riffs all around. Same I would tell for OBSCURE INFINITY’s “Beyond The Gate” demo #1 92 one of the last real Sunlight demos. It’s a pity that their split CD with FULMINATION never saw the light."
Can you agree when I called your book in my review to be "one huge fanzine"? Looking back, are you satisfied with the book and how it turned out. Is there something you don't like and would do different now?
"Huge Fanzine? Yes and no. The intention was surely to give a zine-size to it but I don’t know if it’s correct to label it just a huge fanzine… The ‘book’ is printed on quality paper, got bookbinded and has a cool layout! Of course I’m a hard collector of old zines and I love them. I don’t enjoy glossy magazine like METAL HAMMER or TERRORIZER, while I total respect black and white xeroxed ones like SLAYER MAG of mighty Metalion, ISTEN, VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE (no ass licking here… I’ve at home all paper issues from 4th to 9th), PUTREFACTION, HAMMER OF DAMNATION, DISINCARNATE (just kidding…), HYPNOSIA, THANATOGRAPHY, NECROTOMY, KOITO."
The price of your book is 40 € for Europe and 45 € for the rest of the world. It's quite a lot of money, to tell the truth
"First of all we send the book in priority registered mail. To send in Europe this means 10€, and around 15€ outside Europe. Then we spent a lot on the printing… the quality of the paper is first class, the cover is on quality glossy cardboard, the book is binded. To make things clear I can tell you that we’re still paying the cost of printing. Don’t think I’m going to earn that great amount of money. Finally this was not meant for the mainstream as it is limited to 500 pieces."
It's obvious that you are a huge fan of Swedish Death Metal, but what about the scenes from other countries? Don't you think the Finnish or the American Death Metal scene had great bands, too? What about an "Encyclopedia Of Finnish Death Metal" as part 2?
"Someone asked me about the Perkele edition. Personally I love FUNEBRE, DEMIGOD, CONVULSE, XYSMA, AMORPHIS, ABHORRENCE. About the US scene I love more the Thrash scene. Bands like SINDROME, FALSE PROPHET, REVENANT, LEGACY, FORBIDDEN EVIL, EXODUS, EPIDEMIC are true gods. In my opinion the US Death Metal scene got boring quite soon. Myths aside like ATHEIST, first MORBID ANGEL, XECUTIONER, EXMORTIS, MASSACRE, MANTAS, BAPHOMET, DIVINE EVE, DREAM DEATH, I can’t listen to CANNIBAL CORPSE grunf grunf grinding Death Metal style. I love the Dutch scene instead way more which got great bands like POSTHUMOUS, ASPHYX, OBTRUNCATION, ADETAR, THE GATHERING, NECRO SCHIZMA, EXCAVATION, OFFICIUM TRISTE just to name a few."
Talking about the Italian scene. Which bands can you remember from the early days? I have especially bands as the godly SINOATH but also ICONOCLAST or EXCIDIUM in mind.
"Besides gods like: BULLDOZER, SCHIZO, SADIST, MORTUARY DRAPE and NECRODEATH, I can add many more. Here we go: ELECTROCUTION, TRIFIXION (their “In The Light Of Horror” demo 92 is the Italian answer to CYNIC… A killer demo), ANGEL DEATH, MORTAL FUNGUS, EUTHANASIA, EVOL, MALEFICARUM, MONUMENTUM (with Roberto Mammarella), mighty CULTUS SANGUINE and RAS ALGETHI."
What's next? Do you want to write a part 2 of your encyclopedia (if yes, how would it look like? Are you afraid of running out of bands?), or do you want to write some kind of a real book? Do you want to write at all anymore or are you tired now???
"I’m bit confused now. You know after nearly 3 years of intense working it’s hard to think immediately to the follower. Anyway my comrade in this project Matthias ‘Boscolo’ Johansson (SUICIDAL WINDS) is forcing me to go on. He believes a lot in what I’m doing. Everyday Matte comes up in my mail box telling me to prepare an interview for that band, to contact the other. He checks out also telephone numbers and then finally he meets thousands of Swedish heroes each weekend. So all in all with such a ‘disturbing’ guy I’ve to go on ah ah!! Thanks to Matte!! I can tell you that the war has just begun. I’m yet working on the follower of the ENCYCLOPEDIA adding more interviews. I’ve already sent out interviews to CHRONIC DECAY, GODDEFIED, DARKIFIED, LUCIFER and SALVATION. Probably there’ll be soon a chat with CARBONIZED too and more."
How are the sales so far and are you satisfied with them? Guess you are loosing a lot of money if you won't sell all the copies?
"Actually the publisher, who is managing the shipping, is pretty satisfied as we’re going to pay the whole cost of the typographer / bookbinder. I hope to sell the 500 copies fast as I can find more energy (before it’s too late… that’s to say getting a serious girl and getting married ah ah!!) in doing the follower."
You, as the guy with the probably most complete collection of demotapes of Swedish Death Metal bands, I can't finish this interview without asking you about your opinion of some old songs. So what do you think about the following classic demo-/EP-tracks (I could add thousands more if you want, haha)...
NIRVANA 2002 - 'Mourning' *****
NIRVANA 2002 - 'Slumber' (they deserve to get mentioned with 2 songs, haha) ****1/2
EUCHARIST - 'Greeting Immortality' **** [#]
EXHUMED - 'Obscure Desolation' ***1/2 (come on, Nicola, that’s a shame! – Thomas)
ABHOTH - 'Recantation Of The Forsaken' ***1/2 (another shame, my friend! – Thomas)
CREMATORY - 'Netherworlds Of The Mind' ****
MACRODEX - 'Rest In Pieces' ***
MACABRE END - 'Consumed By Darkness' ****
MASTICATION - 'Freedom's Death' ****
UNANIMATED - 'Storms From The Skies Of Grief' ***1/2
TRAUMATIC - 'A Putrid Reek Of Mangled Remains' ***1/2
TIAMAT - 'Ancient Entity' ****
Referring to the classical rate mode…* = poor / kill yourself, ** = boring, *** = good, **** = strong ***** = overwhelming / what the hell!! [#] = Anyway the best track ever of EUCHARIST is ‘The View’ which deserves 5 stars! A godlike creation! (I have to tell you that I thought about using this song instead but I decided for ‘Greeting Immortality’ probably because of the outstanding intro! – Thomas). I would add to the list some more 5 outstanding tunes: OBSCURITY – ‘Mortal Remains’, DAWN OF DECAY - ‘Grief’, EVOCATION - ‘Desolated Spirits’, UNLEASHED – ‘If They Had Eyes’ / ‘Before The Creation Of Time’ and DARK TRANQUILLITY – ‘Vernal Awakening’. I need more demos to complete the collection! Everyone who has something for trade / sell is strongly invited to keep an eye open on the trading list I’ve on myspace!"
Not asking for the best recording, which is the best song ever recorded?
"I total love ‘Unholy Prophecies’ by NECROPHOBIC… but mind you with Stefan Harrwik on vocals; Anders Strokirk never had the same utterness. If I had a second choice I would pick ‘Mourning’ of NIRVANA 2002 which you already mentioned."
Let me close this interview with asking you what's your opinion about today's Metal scene? Do you listen to new bands and new releases or do you spend all your time in listening to old releases? What are the most promising new releases you enjoyed lately?
"Yeah I’m always looking for newcomers. I’m always more interested in discovering the new Swedish acts than following the established acts. PUTERAEON is worth checking out! (totally agree here, check out the interview with them on Voices – Thomas!) Their second demo “The Requiem” demo #2 08 contains a couple of pearls like ‘Whispers Of The Dead’ / ’Haunted Spirits’ in the GRAVE vibe. If you loved the first extremely rotting flesh days of GRAVE you’ll love this comrade. Then I could mention other acts which captured my attention: VERMINOUS, DE LIRIUM'S ORDER, CARNAL GRIEF, KATALYSATOR (RIP), HORNED, THE BEAUTY OF DARKENED HEARTS. Then I found the two efforts of LEGION OF THE DAMNED (ex-OCCULT members) overwhelming : “Malevolent Rapture” and “Feel The Blade”. CHILDREN OF BODOM “Follow The Reaper” CD 01 is still number one speaking of the most recent full-length."
OK Nicola, that's about it. Hope you enjoyed the interview? Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. The last words are yours!
"Well Thomas you managed a great chat indeed, the best up-to-date. Thanks a lot for the huge support from you and Frank Stöver!! Respect to VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE! But please gimme back the old xeroxed times! (Frank, now it’s your turn to answer this!!! – Thomas) (well, even though I personally also still prefer the cut and paste / xeroxed oldschool zine days, there won't be a resurrection of Voices in that format I'm afraid... - Frank) Lay down your soul to the gods rock ‘n' roll!!!"
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