Review of Goat Song
Death Metal Epic (Book 2: Goat Song Sacrifice) by Dean Swinford
With Goat Song Sacrifice as the title I immediately wondered what kind of degradation was going to go down at the end of this book. Honestly, I didn’t even want to try to imagine. I mean, I’m trying to clean up my choices of entertainment nowadays; I’ve warped my brain enough already. I’d like to un-warp it, if it’s possible. I think what did me in was the time I went to the 2014 Hells Headbash and saw Nunslaughter cut open a dead deer, dump buckets of blood, and throw a pig’s head off the stage for the audience to kick around in the mosh pit. Yes it was shocking, but rather lame because the music really wasn’t that good. I hoped that wouldn’t be the case with Goat Song Sacrifice since I hadn’t read the first book and had no idea who the author was.
The initial excitement about being shocked over a sacrifice eventually faded as I was compelled to keep reading because I really enjoyed “hanging out” with narrator / main character David Forsberg, formerly the guitarist of the (fictional) Florida death metal band Ketabasis. Right off the bat, I can name three of my friends in metal bands right now that are a spitting image of this guy. On several occasions I laughed out loud from his jokes about the characters of his new band, a black metal band called Desekration. Like he nailed their ridiculousness … to an upside down cross. Ha! Yet what’s creepy about the members of any black metal band, including those in this story, is you never know how far these dudes have fallen, like if there is any human left behind the black and white corpse paint on their faces. For example, back in the 80’s, as well as up to most recently as 2011, some real life black metal musicians have committed incredibly hateful, violent, and sacrilegious crimes—there’s even a top 10 list of worst crimes committed by black metal musicians.
The chapters beginning Part 3 and Part 4 of Goat Song Sacrifice are like a cryptic intro to an album. Or what a band would play with the house lights killed, obscured behind a veil of sheer black curtains. These two chapters stand alone from the rest of the story but tie together as some underworld subplot? I’m not exactly sure who is telling the story either. Maybe I missed something that started in the first book of the Death Metal Epic. But after the curtain drops, the stage lights shine and the story lightens up. Set in the gothic small town of Gent, in the Netherlands, the author does an amazing job of naturally weaving in descriptions of the location and culture. I felt like I was on a mini vacation. The character development is amazing as well. Svart, known as Jurgen to his mom whom he still lives with, is the founder of Desekration and desperately wants to see the band take off with the help of the others he invites to join. The creepiness of lead singer Nordikron kept messing with me. I didn’t know if he was a vampire or just a little old dweeb who wears a silly cape attached with Velcro to his t-shirt. I still don’t know. A guy named Nekrokor from the band Astrampychos lurks within the story, too, building an eerie atmosphere. Bassist Juan was in Ketabisis with David back in Florida, back in the first book. For the most part Juan is somewhat normal, but he eventually begins to worry you as he transitions into his new role in Desekration better than David. And the drummer, like most every drummer, nobody really sees; still a cool guy who pops up every once in a while, yet he remains mostly behind the scenes. As far as David’s story—this Goat Song Sacrifice story—could very well be the test of his true character.
What’s next for David in the Death Metal Epic remains a secret. But while reading the second book, I collected enough pieces from the first book to spark my interest to read. GO READ IT NOW. And that’s simply another reason why Dean Swinford is a smart and talented author. Heck, he even has me believing I can search YouTube for videos of Desekration, to find the one mentioned in Goat Song Sacrifice’s ending.
Christopher Lesko is the author of The Grlz Like Vodka, Long Live Crazy, That’s My Ghoul, The Electric Lunatic, and a handful of deranged short stories. Other creative outlets of his include photography, video production, graphic design, and abstract painting. He lives in Canfield, Ohio.