An Unforgiving Oblivion:  David Peak’s CORPSEPAINT (Word Horde, 2018)

There’s a dark identification in Corpsepaint (Worde Horde, 2018) on which Peak knowingly seizes, capitalizing on what exists in the often unmentioned dungeon of our conscience.  I’m a fan of Peak’s aesthetic, and the novel offers a bit of his range and impressive palette:  moments stripped bare while others hum with literary electricity.  An unforgiving piece of fiction that needs to be trusted in its execution and appreciated in its endurable scope.

Peak pleasingly name-drops the usual, classic- and Black-Metal suspects:  Bathory, Maniac, Judas Priest, Darkthrone, and throughout there are obvious nods to the infamous Mayhem (Peak even delivers a sly ball-breaker in the form of a “tech-death metal band in Indiana,” which, owing to my Midwest stomping grounds, elicited a grin).  In fact, Bathory’s indelible, 1988 album, Blood Fire Death, might serve as a succinct review for Peak’s novel by its title alone.

The novel, while bleak, was a swift read for me, owing mainly to Peak’s unforgiving urgency to extricate readers from comfy convention in exchange for the frigid, bloodlessness of primeval rumination and ancient instinct.  Corpsepaint ultimately operates like a ruthless gaze, one which, while cold, urges us, at first, to acknowledge the darkness, before turning our gaze in on ourselves.

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