by Doug Moore
Jason Netherton w/ Misery Index (left), Union Pool, 2010 (more by Samantha Marble)
Though Maryland deathgrinders Misery Index recently announced that they're releasing their fifth album in May, they've been unusually quiet for the past few years. That's partially because drummer Adam Jarvis has been pulling triple duty behind the kit for Pig Destroyer and Fulgora, but other members have been busy too -- specifically, frontman and sole original member Jason Netherton has been working on a book about the history of death metal. Entitled Extremity Retained: Notes from the Death Metal Underground, the book will recount the genre's history in a Studs Terkel-esque oral history format:
Extremity Retained: Notes From the Death Metal Underground is a sincere and exhaustive contribution to the oral history of death metal music and culture. The outcome of three years of research and interviews, Extremity Retained intends to capture the experience and ethos of the international death metal scene from its origins in the late 1980s, through the successive incarnations and evolutions that made it the subcultural force it is today. Comprised entirely of first-hand stories, anecdotes and memories, the book reflects on such diverse areas as the early fanzine and tape trading culture, regional 'scene' reports, death metal performance and technique, the recording process, as well as life on tour, all in an effort to identify the vitality and unity that gives the underground its enduring spirit. Ultimately, the idea is to explore the scene through the voices of those who helped create it, in order to understand better how the death metal underground 'worked' in its early incarnations, how it has evolved, and where it is going. Featuring original cover and section art by Matt "Putrid Gore" Carr, incidental art by Gary Ronaldson, with design and typography from Tilmann Benninghaus and title page by Timo Ketola.Other writers have addressed the same part of music history in book-length formats -- the most notable example I can think of is Decibel showrunner Albert Mudrian's Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. Netherton's take on the subject should be novel for two reasons. The first is the oral-history format; while these books are usually full of block quotes anyway, it'll be interesting to see what happens when its subjects are left to speak almost entirely for themselves. The second novel bit is Netherton's own perspective. Unlike most writers who've tackled death metal history, Netherton was an active participant in the scene he's covering, recording his first work with Dying Fetus in 1993 and tracking a demo even earlier.
Extremity Retained will come out on April 11 via Handshake Inc. (recently responsible for putting out the new Gridlink album, among other things). Stream some crusty early-'90s Dying Fetus with Netherton on bass and vox below...