Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a new twice-monthly column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…
Blood Bound Books first came to the Metalnomicon’s attention via Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead: Dark Tales Inspired by Music — an exquisitely depraved, cleverly devised anthology which is not only dedicated to the immortal Ronnie James Dio, but also opens with a story based on one of the man’s greatest anthems, “The Last in Line” (!) Turns out the collection isn’t the only thing the gore-festooned underground publishing house has done right, either: Fans of hyper-charged, boundary-pushing extreme literature will find much to sate their fiendish appetites in releases such as American Guignol, Scarecrow, D.O.A. Extreme Horror, Blood Rites, and the Night Terrors series.
We asked Blood Bound Books owner/stalwart Metal Militiaman Marc Ciccarone to provide us a little insight into how he came to interweave his dual passions so impressively, a request he graciously obliges below alongside a list of five origin stories for chapters from Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead. So crank some Dio and read on…
Lying, dying, screaming in pain,
Begging, pleading, bullets drop like rain.
Minds explode, pain sheers through your brain,
Radical amputation, this is insane…
Tom Araya’s vocals have haunted me since the first time I listened to “Mandatory Suicide.” The song continues with verses of fly swatter stakes driving through the chest of a soldier, and the rancid streets, littered with the bodies of the dead. Araya painted a better picture of war than any book of fiction I ever read. Not only could I see the scenes of horror in my mind’s eye, I could hear it too; and as a result, I could feel it.
Just as I was drawn to albums depicting the dark underbelly of society, I was also attracted to books of a similar nature. I Am Legend, A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club, The Painting of Dorian Gray, just to name a few. Growing up, there was never a doubt in my mind that heavy metal and fiction were a match made in heaven — or hell? And time and time again, bands confirmed my theory as they churned out hit after hit based on novels, essays, short stories, and even the Bible — Metallica may have cut their hair, but no one can deny “Creeping Death.”
Now if only we could get more metal into literature…
Fast forward to 2009; two friends and I start Blood Bound Books, an independent publishing company specializing in horror, suspense, and dark fantasy. We are trying to be the change we want to see in the publishing industry. In 2011, we did our part to blend heavy metal and fiction with Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead: Dark Tales Inspired by Music. The anthology was well-received by music enthusiasts, received four honorable mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year 2011, and even graced the pages of Rue Morgue.
The book meant so much to me that it’s really hard to pick just five stories to share. I’m not saying that the following are the best stories in the book — though they are damn good! — or the most creative. But each is integral in making the anthology appeal to a wide variety of readers.
1. “Him” by Mark Taylor — Examines the character of Judas Priest’s Nightcrawler when a quiet town receives a deadly visitor.
2. “Thermogenic” by G. Winston Hyatt — This is quite possibly the most disturbing story in the entire anthology. It follows a young man and his struggles to work the hospital’s burn ward. Hyatt is masterful in capturing the horror of Throbbing Gristle’s “Hamburger Lady.”
3. “The City” by Rex McGuire — Based on Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” “The City” is a dystopian future where the only law is chaos, and everything can be bought for a price.
4. “Osaka’s Fallen Son” by Natalie L. Sin — Builds off Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a young criminal who writes a letter to his dead mother every time he does something bad. Mama! The story blends in Japanese folklore and culture perfectly.
5. “Synthetic Messiah” by Marc Sorondo — Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” inspires this tale of a son who takes revenge on a shifty reverend.