(120 pages, A4, printed, in English)

When it was announced that there was a new issue of Maniac’s legendary DAMAGE INC. zine in the making, I asked my Norwegian buddy Christer if he could pick up a copy from Neseblod Records in Oslo for me. A few days later, he got back to me with the exciting news that there would be a special edition with the first two issues as well. I was stoked. Fast forward to here and now, and the announced special edition became the regular edition: an A4 sized softcover book with all three issues and an interview with the man behind the words. Sven Erik Kristiansen aka Maniac is best known for his insane vocals on MAYHEM’s "Deathcrush", but if you didn’t know, you are probably here by mistake. He also followed Dead’s footsteps after he ended his life by his own hands and was back behind the microphone for a few years and a few records and founded SKITLIV together with Niklas Kvarforth of SHINING afterwards. But as much as Maniac’s personality shines through in his zines, this isn’t about him. It’s about a time and a place and a zine. The first two issues date back to 1986 and 1987 respectively and look extremely professional for the time. The reason for the slick look is as simple as it is surprising: Maniac wrote about music for a Norwegian newspaper in his teenage years and could use all their resources to make his own zine. Flipping through the pages of these old zines is like stepping into a time machine: it is a document of an era when Black Metal as we know it wasn’t even a concept yet and when everything that was loud, fast and noisy was met with equal excitement and enthusiasm. Maniac, being the Punk (in every sense of the word) that he always was and still is, writes about THE CRAMPS and the DEAD KENNEDYS in a breath with NECROPHAGIA and SEPULTURA, and ASSASSIN and MASSACRE make an appearance right next to CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and the CRUMBSUCKERS. This should give you an idea about the mixed bag of contents in the first two issues… it’s pretty much like walking into an underground record store 30 years ago. But the truly outstanding and interesting parts are when you can tell that Maniac wrote about history in the making without even being aware of it. Maybe the prime example for this is the METALLICA interview in issue one, literally being conducted two days before the death of Cliff Burton… it literally gave me goosebumps. Of similar historical value is the MAYHEM interview in the same issue in which he asks Euronymous: "What do you think about hardcore-punk?“ – "It’s cool shit.“ … Let’s all take a deep breath here and pause for a moment. Something else I learned: SEPULTURA’s "Bestial Devastation“ and "Morbid Visions“ were $8 postpaid each and record collectors are probably kicking their own asses for not ordering boxes of these gems when they were available. And this is where the historical part ends and where the true strength of this volume lies: DAMAGE INC. issue three. The motivation for getting back into zine making some 30 years later seems rather simple: Maniac wanted to do an interview with TEITANBLOOD. Truth be told, I know of worse reasons. The TEITANBLOOD interview is one of the highlights here and one of the rare cases when questions and answers are well thought out. Maniac also talks to Fenriz of DARKTHRONE and the result is one of the better DARKTHRONE interviews in recent years, simply because one can tell that it is two friends talking to each other here. Mikko Aspa of CLANDESTINE BLAZE still is the great interview partner that he always was, even though he still doesn’t seem to have a grasp on the definite articles in the English language. The rest of the issue has a heavy focus on Japan (probably due to the fact that Maniac is happily married to Vivian Slaughter of GALLHAMMER) with bands such as BIRTH RITUAL, DÖRAID, ANATOMIA, KNAVE and the mighty FRAMTID to name just a few. To wrap it all up, being the father of an 8 months old daughter, I don’t really have a lot of time to read these days, so I kept this book in the toilet. Not only are the interviews the perfect length for an average defecation, flipping through it made my bowel movements so much more enjoyable… and I am sure Maniac would be pleased with this analogy. Or any word with anal. Available from www.cultneverdies.com or – thanks to the ISBN – even proper brick and mortar bookstores, remember those?

Thomas Reitmayer

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