“Wanna buy a fanzine mate?” Ah those desperate calls for beer money at gigs have long gone. No more hawking wares with names like Organ, Dog, P’tahk, Satellite and err Kentucky Fried Afterbirth. The Internet has taken over and the physical fanzine is very much dead. This is something that Sven-Erik Kristiansen aka Maniac is to put it politely somewhat pissed off about. I am not getting into a debate on print VS web but there is gutter press whatever medium it rears its ugly head in and those who are good at publishing authoritative, verbose and well written information and those that are not, exist in all quarters. Maniac as you may or may not know started out as a Fanzine writer himself bringing out 2 editions of Damage Inc zine 1986 and 1987. It was meant to run to more issues but for various reasons did not until now when he has penned the third part in 2017. These have all been gathered together warts and all for posterity under Dayal Patterson’s Cult Never Dies publishing imprint complete with an introductory interview between the two setting the scene and placing it all in a historical context.

Of course we have it so easy today, setting up interviews at the ping of a button and being flooded by a huge amount of music via MP3 files but back in the day everything relied on the postal system. Maniac, as many, used to wait for ages for replies and cassettes of demo material to arrive and things took forever. Luckily he had the enthusiasm and passion and established a network of like-minded people through a newspaper column in Vest-Telemark Blad to achieve this and from it Damage Inc. was born. Reading the zine it is quickly established that there is a lot Maniac does not like, Posers for one beware! Luckily this teenage dirtbag had a huge respect for death thrash and hardcore punk and managed to write about and converse with many notable groups within the scene. Many have disappeared into the annals of time Savage Thrust, Deathchamber & Desexult to name but a few but others such as Metallica, Necrophagia, Massacre, Sepultura, Corrosion Of Conformity and of course Mayhem are still very much household names. Maniac’s writing is spirited and full of youthful enthusiasm but interviews and musings are on the whole short and with a seeming stock of repeated questions. English is not his and indeed quite a few interviewees 1st language. This is unpolished stuff, as it was written, warts and all. I did find myself cringing a lot reading through it all. Asking Necrophagia what they think of maggots crawling over a girl’s intimate regions is asking for it and a youthful Killjoy and cohorts certainly arise to the occasion with their answers. Tapping Kirk Hammett for an interview in a hotel disco and asking him what he thought of poser bands seems ironic and raised a smile. Interest here is definitely going to be on Mayhem as Maniac obviously joined between zines and in the second edition prior to recording the Deathcrush demo he (seemingly) even gets to ask himself a few questions about this.

It’s very much the historical context of when this was written that is the main selling point here. It was just after the tragic death of Cliff Burton, The Dead Kennedy’s were in court and splitting up over the Frankenchrist debacle, Sepultura were on the verge of releasing ‘Morbid Visions’ and this is a snapshot of the past never to be repeated.

With a lot of water under the bridge, resurrecting the zine in 2017 sees a massive leap in quality. Maniac can write and ask questions a lot better and things are written about in much more detail. He still picks only those he deems worthy of talking to (something I completely agree with) and there is a certain case of Metal English about the prose, especially with the very underground Japanese bands (some getting 1st interview outside of Japan) included here. They all have interesting stories to tell as do the likes of Fenriz (as always) of Darkthrone, Teitanblood and Clandestine Blaze. It’s also probably the only place you will read about Syphilitic Vaginas at least in the printed form. Still acting a bit like a naughty boy, I did notice the way he tried to lead every band into slagging off the Internet but got answers pointing out the pros and cons of the thing we grew up without but would find life a whole lot different if it didn’t exist. Times, we like Maniac may yearn for but short of an EMP will never find ourselves in again.

All in all I found this an enjoyable and fairly easy read, loved the way it had been replicated and printed with the authentic look of the original (mistakes and all) and found out about a fair few bands who I otherwise would never have heard of. Copies are also signed by Maniac and can be purchased via the link below.

(Peter Woods)