The question I had while reading this book is “can I truly hate every single character in this book and still enjoy it?” That’s what David Peak’s Corpsepaint brings me to. Let’s back up a bit.
This book was sold to me basically by a friends review that described it, so so many ways, as a nihilistic, black metal, horror book that is insanely bleak. Fucking aye, that’s my jams. So diving into it that’s what I was expecting, and essentially, that’s what I got.
Now with how bleak and dismal the book is, does it behoove the story to be told by such terrible characters? Terrible as humans, not terribly written. The book is not terribly written, it’s rather engaging for a horror yarn full of assholes that I just want to kick.
Personal baggage out front: I’ve been extremely disillusioned with the rising tide of edge lord stances and white nationalists and defenders of such shitty ideals currently being thrown around the black metal scene that I just have to fucking tolerance, or patience for anybody who wants to engage or support that bullshit. David Peak’s main characters are essentially those bullshit posturing, self-proclaimed “trve” black metal dudes with zero sense of self humor or irony. There’s even mention of them dabbling with racism or nazism just to be edgy. Fuck that. I immediately hated these characters. Minus their edge, they’re still shitty humans in general. So the idea is these two musicians, one who is a “legendary” black metal musician down on his luck, and his new band partner are heading to eastern Europe to record what he thinks will be his second coming. The place they’re going is some sort of reclusive, black metal, compound life sort of deal that harbors another legendary black metal band that’s going to aid him with recording the new album. Surprise, surprise, these people are a bunch of white nationalist assholes too, throwing black metal shows with skinheads and other right wing types of extremist. In the context of the book though, the main cult group has access to some ancient, natural force of evil power they hope to let loose. It’s amusing to me that the way Peak writes these characters, as being some kind of vessel for ancient, true, arcane knowledge of the natural word is what all these real life, stick-up-the-ass black metal fans fancy themselves to be. The big difference being Peak writes fiction and these dumbwits live in reality where they aren’t anything more than greasy fanboys.
So that’s how I’m coming out of this book. I hate every single person in it but Peak writes a good, slow burn, horror yarn that pulls a lot from the dismal, hopelessness of Lovecraft but with the added black metal, heavy metal, cold, bleak, surroundings and attitudes. Is it Peak’s intention to have you dislike the characters? Maybe that’s what I brought in to it but if you ask me, I think that’s part of the books challenge. Yes, these dudes are trash, and they’ll get theirs, but are you enjoying how that happens? I did.