Sometime in the mid-1990s the original of this book was released almost grudgingly by Mortiis’ then record company, and in a highly limited edition. This of course meant that it has been trading for well into three figures for decades, and that most people including myself have never even seen a copy. Step forward Dayal Patterson of Cult Never Dies publishing and at last we have an easily obtainable edition and one augmented by gorgeous new binding, interviews and artwork and all to coincide with Mortiis taking his ‘Era 1’ music back into venues.

“But what is it?” you ask.

Actually the title kind of is the explanation. This is the secret history, the myths and legends of the world created by Mortiis that are the roots and the land upon which he built the music of his dark dungeon music days. This is a series of short essays, of poetic and sometimes almost stream of consciousness writings that explore the grim, dark and introspective world that took form in the mind of young Mortiis. It’s a unique insight into the beginnings of some highly influential music, a curious world where a god creates a world seemingly just so he can bring it to its knees, a misty, bleak place of trolls and wizards and death. It is stylistically a difficult but nonetheless compelling read and once you have a feel for the rhythm it exerts a genuine pull on you. Even more so if you put on the CDs and let the music seal you away from the world outside your window.

Throughout, the writings are interspersed with illustrations by Juha Vuorma, David Thierre, Kerri Sandell and Mark Riddik. The strange, angular art of Juha Vuorma are particularly striking and evocative, their unexpected shapes and twisted expressions perfect next to the ruined world described.

By now it should almost be needless to say that Cult Never Dies have done so much more than simply reprint the original volume. This is an oversized, coffee table hardback in a superb new binding with fine cover illustration by David Thieree who also has new artwork included which was created with Mortis for the recent concerts. The printing, on heavy glossy paper, is beautiful and with the additions of a lengthy interview with Mortiis and shorter ones with Mark Riddick, David Thierre, Azgorth of Forgotten Kingdoms and others it is a worthy documentary of the time and the continuing influence of this unique and idiosyncratic body of work.

It doesn’t even stop there. If you go for the boxed edition (due back in stock in April I believe) you get the additions of not just a heavy card, embossed box for it all but a t shirt of an awesome Mark Riddick illustration, colour prints of some Juha Vuorma illustrations from the book which really bring out the unsettling, angular art and atmosphere, a recreation of the original booklet for the debut album Fodt Til A Herske and a signed certificate from the man himself.

This really is not just a beautiful book as an object, or an historical artefact¬† but one of those rare things of a piece of living art in itself that compliments and expands upon the world that the music is created from. For Mortiis fans I’d go so far as to say that the book (either book or boxed edition) is absolutely essential. Even for those who have only one or two the albums, it is a lovely accessory to enhance the experience. Even without the music this is simply a fine art book.

Frankly I can’t think of a better companion to the music than this. A kingdom of secrets you can enter at will.

 (Gizmo)

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