Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: Primal Screamer by Nick Blinko

You may not have ever heard of Nick Blinko, but he is well nown and
popular in certain circles. He was the guitarist of Rudimentary Peni,
a popular crust punk band. (crust punk is a subgenre of a subgenre,
anarcho-political punk) besides their fellow British standard Crass -
Rudimentary Peni is one the most popular bands of the genre 30 years
after they started.

Since the band recorded a tribute to HP Lovecraft I think the idea
that the novel was a twisting of Crust punk with Lovecraft vibe was a
little over sold on the back of the book. Besides a single reference
to the Necronomicon, and standard Gothic feel this thin but powerful
novel didn't feel Lovecraftian to me, and the horror aspect is a bit oversold.

The more you know about this pioneering band, the more likely you
are to enjoy this novel, which is a paper thin autobiography. The
novel follows the event of Blinko and the band's life with only a few
names changed and a few horrific visions added. the rumor is that
Blinko himself has been committed, but I don't know if that is just
legend. It's true that the band's bass player died of cancer.

One very bold choice was to tell the story through the eyes of Nat
(although it's clear he represents the author)'s psychotherapist. As
he gets to know Nat he feels his dreams slipping into insanity, this
and the method of regressive therapy which takes you back under
hypnosis to feeling of being in the womb. This is a great analogy
considering the name of the band the characters and the author were
in. In Maximum RocknRoll, issue #237 (February 2003), the bass player
Matthews explained how he came up with the name of the band: "When I
was at school studying biology, we were told that in the fetal stage
the clitoris is a rudimentary penis."

Over all I personally enjoyed the novel, but I didn't exactly think it
was a masterpiece. As a history of the band and a dark artist knowing
so much of this experience is true makes for a compelling read. At the
same time as a horror novel I don't think it would work for anyone who
was not already a fan of or interested in Blinko's music. The
therapists descendent into madness to me feels short and rush at the
end, happening most clearly in the last five pages of the novel.
Events of the story while interesting and gothic were not strong
enough to carry it as a horror novel.

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