Only Vinyl is Real: Seven Metal Inches Book Documents Three Decades of Seven-Inch Records

“Only vinyl is real.” The sentiment is common in the extreme metal underground, where the physical album is still revered and wanted. That love of vinyl collided with a love of extreme metal books when Andreas Hertkorn compiled Seven Metal Inches, a book stemming from a website which documents vinyl (picture 7″ records specifically), artwork, flyers and more in addition to dozens of interviews with noteworthy extreme metal bands, labels and artists.

Decibel caught up with Hertkorn to learn more about the book. If you’re interested in acquiring a copy for yourself, it can be obtained through the Seven Metal Inches website or the Hells Headbangers distro for North American customers.

How did the idea for Seven Metal Inches come about? It’s pretty extensive and covers a lot of ground in extreme metal.
I have been a collector of Picture 7″s for 12, 13 years when I started to think about doing something with my collection back in around 2006. A friend then helped me to create a website where I was presenting images of all the records I had but without any additional information. The site wasn’t up for long since my friend took it down because he needed the space himself—back then, webspace wasn’t an endless thing like today. A couple years later, I started to build my own page by creating a blogspot called Seven Metal Inches, that must’ve been in 2011. This site became much more detailed: I made scans of everything I had including vinyl, inserts, flyers, stickers, etc. I don’t know how many countless hours I spent in front of my companies’ scan/copy machines , but it must be horribly long ones. After some years of running the site, I felt that I need to go a step further; I needed something more haptic than a virtual website.

I am big fan of extreme metal books, so I thought about making/writing one myself but concept-wise, I had no clue how to start. Who would care about a book full of images of picture 7″s? Then the idea of doing interviews came to my mind and that was the starting point of this project which resulted in this book. Since I only collect death metal, black metal and grindcore, these are also the genres that are presented in the book. I used the term extreme metal to cover all three of them. There are maybe some Doom releases as well. I have tried to get all releases into this book; I mean every Picture 7″ that has been released… EVER! During my research, I discovered new and also new old ones that I have missed or which I just never heard of, so chances are high that there are still some out there which are not presented in this book, or rather encyclopedia, what I like to name it.

What about seven-inches is so attractive or appealing to you versus either full LPs or other mediums like CDs or tapes?
I can’t really tell, to be honest. I got my hands on 7″s in 1992 and was quite fascinated by them. Back in the days, I bought CDs and ordered demo tapes from all around the world and additionally copied albums on tape since I was still in school and couldn’t afford buying that much myself. In the late 00’s I almost got rid of everything analog (beside tapes and my 7″s, of course) because iTunes was a perfect platform for me to get a digital archive and downloading material from the internet made this archive grow by the day. Several years ago, I somehow found my love again for the analog formats and started buying demo tapes and 12″ [records] again or for the first time. I am both an old-school nerd but digital native trapped in between the two worlds. To be honest, listening to 7″s can be a pain in the arse but it’s not only about the songs. It’s also about reminding you of the good times back in the early/mid-90s when 7″s were there to promote a band before an album, for example. I still buy new 7″s from underground bands, sometimes even if I have the material on tape already.

You spoke with dozens of artists and labels to make this book happen. What were some of the most interesting things that you learned?
That patience is a virtue you need to have, because otherwise a project like this is doomed. I was really surprised how many bands and persons were eager to talk about that very niche topic and some of those answers turned out to be quite lengthy, such as both interviews for the Ancient Rites/Enthroned split picture 7″, for example. This was very special to me since that record was among the first picture 7″s I received back then. Even some busy artists such as Erik from Watain answered with enthusiasm and detailed descriptions. I also had the chance to talk to some of those guys personally and I really enjoyed speaking with Jon Zazula (Megaforce Records) on Skype while he was hanging out next to his swimming pool in Orlando, FL or the lengthy talk to Fred Estby from Dismember. Another interesting talk was with the Venom, Inc. guys before their show here in Berlin, Germany.

What’s the most challenging part of documenting all of these releases? Is it difficult to find information about the pressings, labels, artists, etc. or was something else the trickiest?
The internet is a great place to get information on pretty much everything; metal collectors go crazy about documenting all sorts of stuff, so researching in databases such as Metal Archives and Discogs is a perfect start. Other than that, I got lots of details from the bands and labels; it was very satisfying when I got in touch with Adolfo from Mexico who ran the infamous Distorted Harmony label. He told me that the Carcass – Live in Bradford bootleg (the pic 7″) was limited to 15 copies and that they were handmade by himself. This info was added to Discogs. Apparently someone read my book and wrote it into the database. [laughs] The most tricky part is finding info on test pressings. I am not much of a fan of these so I am not hunting them. Don of Nunslaughter told me that there should be test pressings of all Nunslaughter picture 7″ releases but I didn’t include them into the book since I [didn’t have] anymore info on those.

Now that the book is complete and has gone through one pressing and onto another, what will you do next? Will there be another metal vinyl book in the future?
That’s correct; I have made two editions (300 and 200 copies) which are exactly the same. I wasn’t just sure how demand would look like so I made a smaller edition in the beginning after the pre-oder went for a couple of weeks. I am now down to around 50 copies left out of the second batch and will most likely not do another one. While finishing Seven Metal Inches I already had a new project in mind which I started in January; it’s called Todessehnsucht (German for “longing for death”) and deals with the time when death metal evolved in Germany covering the years 1985-1992.

For this project I am talking to bands, labels, the media, bookers, artists, producers and foreign bands that toured Germany in those years. It’s a way bigger project than my first book and pretty much everyone I approach with it is enthusiastic and willing to talk about the old times. I hope to have compiled everything in 2019.

Additionally, I am also working on another vinyl book project together with Dima Andreyuk from Tough Riffs Magazine about regular 7″s from the 1989-94 period. It will be called Seven Inches of Death and we just let band members talk about their releases. There won’t be formal interviews, just free texts embedded in an old-school design approach (typewriter font, cut n’ paste optic visual appearance, black and white print) made as a tribute to the 7″ vinyl format. We both share a passion for these releases…

I have one or two more projects in the pipeline but I will close the one(s) [that are currently in progress] first before starting another one. I am also running a small DIY tape label called Caco-Dameon Records where I do limited batches of old-school death metal releases with bands hailing from the deepest underground including a Japanese Splatter Series edition which I am focusing on in 2018 – all genuine release of mine will get a Japanese version as well, which will be sold in Tokyo only.