Book review: Another Primordial Day: The paleo metal diaries, by Mats E Erikssön

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Jon Trevelyan (UK)

Those of you who are frequent readers of this magazine will know that Mats Erikssön writes fascinatingly quirky articles combining his favourite genre of music and his profession – palaeontology and death (heavy) metal. I am certainly not an expert on the latter, but I do know that, to link the two, is always going to be a bold and humorous conceit.

And this book is no exception. Mats always uses an amusing but authoritative style of writing, especially impressive as his first language is not English (Mats is from Sweden). At the same time, he is undoubtedly a professional expert on palaeontology. He spends his day researching microscopic fossils and reconstructing several hundred million-year-old ecosystems as a professor of geology at Lund University in Sweden. Additionally, his love of heavy metal means that, as a researcher, he has named several newly discovered fossils after famous metal artists, written song lyrics about fossils and been involved in a touring exhibition specifically linking fossils with heavy metal.

So, it is with a certain smile that I can recollect editing articles by him for this magazine with unlikely titles such as: ‘Cannibal the animal – the making of a monster’, or ‘Headbanging, rocking and moonwalking fossils’ and ‘A ‘Heavy Metals painter’ meets a ‘Heavy Metal palaeontologist’ – the conception of an unusual portrayal of the past’.

However, Mats is not just making amusing links. He wants the reader to see the strong links he believes exist between science and various art forms. In this respect, I think I should quote Esben Horn of ‘10 Tons’ (who makes models and palaeontological reconstructions in Copenhagen):

“It should be obvious that a man, like Mats E. Erikssön, who has dedicated his professional life to searching for the remaining corpses of long dead creatures, is addicted to death metal. However, the realization that heavy meant and science can be combined continuously attracts interest from the press worldwide”.

If you have enjoyed reading Mats’ take on palaeontology in this magazine or if you have never read any of his articles, but are intrigued by his approach, I thoroughly recommend this book. I hope you enjoy reading it and them as much as I did.

Another Primordial Day – the paleo metal diaries, by Mats E Erikssön, PMET Publishing House, Malmö, Sweden (2019). 441 pages (hardback), ISBN: 978-9151904566

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