Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…
In his latest antagonism 90s Island, reliably hilarious literary raconteur and self-described “luscious beacon of truth” Marty Beckerman (The Heming Way, Generation S.L.U.T.) spins a satirical yarn of two brothers fed up with a present day world of “identity theft, antibiotic resistance, suicide bombers, crazed gunman, cellphone brain tumors, ruining your reputation with one impulsive tweet” — not to mention economic woe — and dreaming of a simpler time when “our biggest national crisis was an overabundance of boy bands and poseurs.”
So the brothers do what any other red-blooded circa-2013 American male would do when seeking to effect change. They get wasted and launch a Kickstarter campaign.
Hell of it is, this drunken bid to create “the first mass retro society” raises far more money than anticipated, and when a South American dictator offers up the southern coast of his nation in exchange for a cut of the proceeds, 90s Island becomes a beautiful reality. And then a nightmare. Kinda/sorta like Lord of the Flies with frosted tips.
It is tempting to cut and paste huge blockquotes of Beckerman brilliantly skewering/paying tribute to the various fashions and manias of that era, but the choosing would be too difficult. Suffice it to say, the novel throws a net wide enough to encompass Hostess Ninja Turtle pies (“FILLED WITH VANILLA PUDDIN’ POWER”), Hi-C Ecto-Cooler, slap bracelets, and a short aside on the all-too-real allure of the 16-bit panties Chun-Li wore in Street Fighter II. We’re talking about a resort wherein the sports arena “contains replicas of the American Gladiators set and the booby-trapped Aggro Crag mountain from Nickelodeon Guts,” a giant marble statue of Kurt Cobain is erected, and Tower Records, Borders Books & Music, Circuit City and Sam Goody are summoned back into existence.
The penalty for reading a post-90s Harry Potter volume on Kindle? Death!
Now, when it comes to music 90s Island does not celebrate — or even mention, actually — what your average Decibel reader would likely consider the extremely extreme bright spots of that decade. It is heavy on the alt-rock/grunge. To his credit the narrator does acknowledge enjoying third-wave ska is “like fetishizing circus music.” Alas, he also muses, “[I]f i could travel to any era in history, I wouldn’t meet Jesus or Shakespeare or Ben Franklin. I’d just go back and catch a Sublime concert before Brad Nowell overdosed” — no doubt the personal hell awaiting many metalheads in the hands of an angry god.
So, yeah, it would have been nice to see 90s Island host a stop on Morbid Angel’s Covenant 20th anniversary tour — perhaps with regulars Hanson and Ace of Bass opening — but there are nevertheless at least two reasons for the Metalnomicon hyping the book:
1. “Fred Durst is the only person banned from 90s Island; some historical artifacts are better left forgotten.”
2. A death metal cover worthy slaughter of aforementioned “poseurs.”
Also, for the record, here is this column’s preferred vision of what a return to the 90s would look like: