This formidable oversized hardcover runs 288 pages (including a 32-page color section), and combines hundreds of unseen early Hellhammer and Celtic Frost photos with a vast treasure trove of artwork and memorabilia. A substantial written component by Fischer details his upbringing on the outskirts of Zurich, Switzerland, and the hardships and triumphs he faced bringing the visions of his groundbreaking bands Hellhammer and eventually Celtic Frost to reality. In addition, the book includes an introduction by Nocturno Culto of Norwegian black metal act Darkthrone, and a foreword by noted metal author Joel McIver.
Without question Only Death Is Real goes farther than any other source in exploring the origins of underground heavy metal. The wealth of visual information is astounding, both in terms of documenting early 1980s headbangers and exposing the still-relevant imagery of the first Hellhammer and Celtic Frost photo sessions. On top of that, the written chapters combine Tom Fischer’s often shocking stories with lengthy quotes from Martin Eric Ain and the other main Hellhammer members, explaining in intimately human terms how extreme metal was born.