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Zine Anthology 1995 / 2017
(228 pages, A4, printed, in English)

Cult Never Dies is one of the most interesting contemporary publishing houses when it comes to Metal. Apart from founder Dayal Patterson's own books, Cult Never Dies has an ongoing series, a bit exaggeratedly entitled "Underground Archives", and this book here is the second part, right after Maniac's ULTRA DAMAGED book. ULTIMATE DARKNESS is a zine that – unfortunately! - does not live up to the boastful name: it's neither very dark nor is it the ultimate whatever, but hey… let's forgive the editors their youthful enthusiasm! Compiled in this book are all three issues to date: the first issues dating back to 1996 and 1999, and the new one is… well, new. Both old issues are classic examples of 1990s Metal fanzine culture: sloppy yet computerized layout, lots of exclamation marks, a very liberal use of the English language ("Almost bands have their own perspection in forming band.“) and questions straight from the mind and the desk of a teenager: "How are you? Is it hot or cold there?“ - Erm, OK. Some interviews are more interesting than others (mostly because of a nostalgic factor… ANGELCORPSE, DARK FUNERAL, AMON AMARTH and ABSU are some of the bigger names), but the first 100 pages are pretty much forgettable. What really stands out though beside the fanatical love for Metal and the more than charming excitement of two teenage boys is the ridiculous corpsepaint of the 90s: when you thought that Abbath looked and still looks like an idiot, look up pictures of PAGANUS DOCTRINA and especially FUNEREAL MOON. It really is no surprise that these bands are all but forgotten by now. Fast forward to 2017 and issue three… now we are talking about a different beast. The cast of interviewees is like a who is who of extreme Metal. Literally everybody who's somebody is there: from VENOM INC., PROTECTOR, FUNERAL NATION and MASTER'S HAMMER via BLASPHEMY, MERCILESS, TORMENTOR, TREBLINKA and SADISTIK EXEKUTION all the way to uncountable underground bands from all corners of the earth on more than 120 jam packed pages of nothing but Metal. But alas, I feel like a jerk for saying this, but it's boring beyond belief. No question goes beyond the influences, sales figures and reactions by fans and the press, not one. It's as if the teenage dedication is still there, just trapped in a man's body. The only thing really outstanding is the "bonus interview“ from the upcoming fourth issue with Fredrick Melander, who played drums in BATHORY in the very early days. This is something I'd like to see more of: digging up forgotten legends that have a thing or two to say. The interviews with TORMENTOR and TREBLINKA surely had the potential, but the execution has failed miserably. Excusez-moi, but I want to read about juvenile rage and not about how many demos have been sold. Long review short: there is a reason for the SLAYER DIARIES, but this book here is just dead trees, I'm sorry. Oh, by the way, did I mention that ULTIMATE DARKNESS is from Malaysia? It's from Malaysia. released this and is your other source for info.

Thomas Reitmayer

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