- We Sold Our Souls.
- Grady Hendrix.
- 336 pages.
- Horror / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success — but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.
Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western – she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry’s meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris’s very soul.
This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It’s a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that’s darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul…where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The other day I was watching the classic movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and due to being a
mature adult man-child I decided that I wanted to incorporate a couple of the phrases used in the film into a book review……and well, here we are.😱😂
We Sold Our Souls is a most excellent read and with my devil horns raised Grady Hendrix, I salute you!🤘
Kris Pulaski was the lead guitarist in the heavy metal band Dürt Würk but music and happiness are in her past. It has been years since she picked up her guitar, shredded her axe and made her six-string sing. These days Kris is back in her hometown living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to get by dealing with boredom, monotony and unruly
arseholes customers working as the Night Manager at a Best Western hotel.
When she was a kid all Kris had was music. An outcast, she learnt to play the guitar by playing until her fingers bled and then she played some more finding solace in the riffs and the music. Teaching herself in the basement of her family home repeating the riff to Iron Man by Black Sabbath until it was second nature. Then, one day, there was a tapping on the basement window and Kris was asked if she was playing Sabbath. The kid that tapped on the window, Terry Hunt.
The pair bonded over music and formed a friendship over their mutual love of heavy metal. Due to this, they decided to start a band, add in some other misfits who become their bandmates and Dürt Würk (which is a cool name for a band) was born.
After ten years of playing to mid-sized audiences and paying their dues but failing to achieve any real success, with two albums released, a new album (Troglodyte) already written in the hopes of a scoring big contract and thanks to their new manager Rob Anthony Dürt Würk got their big break as the opening act for the metal titan’s Slayer. Unfortunately, things went wrong, Terry bad-mouthed Slayer, got the band kicked off the tour, trashed his hotel room and then disappeared leaving the rest of the band to be told that they’d been sacked from the tour before a show.
Due to his behaviour and fucking up their shot at the big time the rest of the band decided that they would fire him. They drove back to the Witch House (the place where they wrote and practised their songs and recorded their albums) only to find Terry waiting for them with Rob and a cooler full of champagne.
Along with Terry, Rob and the champagne there were contracts laid out on a table and waiting for the rest of the band to sign. A multi-album, multi-year record deal but it’s not for Dürt Würk. Dürt Würk are dead and Terry has masterminded a new creation, going forward he will be known as The Blind King and they will now be known as Koffin. That’s not all though, their album Troglodyte will be discarded without ever being officially released. Terry will have sole ownership and rights to the lyrics, music, songs and publishing and the rest of the band will just be session musicians who play with him. But, perhaps the worst thing for the true metalhead members of the band, the genre and style of the band would change. Under the Koffin name they will no longer be a heavy metal band but a nu metal band, the sacrilege and the horror! This, of course, doesn’t go down well with the other band members who don’t really want to rap, sell out and play like Korn, Limp Bizket or Slipknot! – they sure don’t like Slipknot so remember maggots it’s just a book!👍
Enraged by Terry and the contract offer Kris goes off into the woods to blow off some steam and calm down. On that fateful night, however, there is an unaccounted for gap, a span of missing hours and a hole in Kris’s memory. It is also the night when tragedy strikes and the band split up.
That was twenty years ago and in the intervening years, Terry has become a multi-millionaire metal megastar and Koffin a hugely successful brand with legions of adoring fans and millions upon millions in the bank. Now, after a period of inactivity and years since their last album release Koffin and Terry return to play a farewell tour. Named ‘Farewell to the King‘ the tour will be the final five shows by Koffin. However, at the last concert and due to the popularity of the tour Terry announces that he is holding a huge music festival in the Las Vegas desert called Hellstock ’19. Taking place over three days and featuring fifty bands over three stages Hellstock will now be Koffin’s swan song and final ever show.
Dürt Würk was Kris’s life, the band and the music meant everything to her and it was all taken away from her by Terry and Koffin. Fuelled by years of anger, frustration, hurt and rage Kris wants answers from Terry, to right the wrongs of her past, redemption for herself and decides that it is finally time to uncover the truth behind what really happened on contract night all those years ago. Setting out on an epic cross-country journey that will bring her into contact with her former bandmates, hellish creatures and murderous UPS delivery drivers (yes, really) there is only one way it will all end, with her confronting Terry.
Kris is one woman with a guitar against many and the only help she has on the way to her confrontation with the Blind King is the unreleased Dürt Würk album, her masterpiece Troglodyte and its created mythology. In Troglodyte Kris must believe, placing her trust in the songs and the lyrics that she once wrote and allowing the album to guide her. Troglodyte tells a story that forms the backdrop of her journey helping her endure the shit that she has to face and keeping her moving forward.
Interspersed with Kris’s story are the occasional chapters focusing on Melanie, a die-hard Koffin fan with a dead-end job who wants more from her life. Melanie sees Hellstock as the ideal opportunity for a fresh start, to move away to a new state, start over and to see Terry and his band who have given her so much and whose music saved her life (many of us have bands/songs/lyrics that we find meaning in, can relate too and have found comfort in during hard times and that is what Koffin and their songs mean to Melanie) one last time. I really liked the Melanie chapters, she’s slightly naive but an all-around good sort and a likeable character.
Each chapter is titled after a classic music album, Appetite for Destruction, Diary of a Madman, Master of Puppets, etc and whilst only a small thing, it’s a really nice touch and shows thought on the part of the author.
At the start of each chapter, there are snippets from magazine articles, interviews and radio shows. Some old and some new mentioning Dürt Würk, the state of the world, conspiracy theories, Koffin’s farewell tour and the Hellstock festival. Again, like with the naming of the chapter titles, it’s only a small thing but the snippets are another nice touch and are used to add additional insight and depth to the story.
Dürt Würk feels like a real band that derailed, imploded and split-up, not just a group of people written on pages in a book but band-mates from a real band with a real history. The backstory of the band, the individual band-mates and the relationships between them all throughout the course of We Sold Our Souls from their bygone days as a band to the present day and the animosity that the others feel towards Kris, the admittance of fault, the attempting building of bridges, the betrayals and, of course, the loathing that Kris feels towards Terry, it is all exceptional and makes for a compelling narrative.
All of the characters featured are different with their own personalities and none more so than Kris who is a terrific main character. Kris is beaten, damaged, frayed and tough with no quit in her. She is ‘metal4life‘ and raises a middle finger to conformity. She is someone to root for, to get behind, to cheer on in her quest, she is heavy metal through and through, music runs in her veins and she is badass.
We Sold Our Souls is a crazy train of a book that is loaded with soaring cleans, guttural growls, harsh screaming, breakdowns, acoustic interludes, duelling guitar solos and excess riffage.
C’mon, you knew I’d get some musical references into the review so I might as well have stuck them all together!😂 But, if you prefer the non-musical version.
We Sold Our Souls is a hellish thrill ride of a book that is loaded with emotion, humour, redemption, craziness, action and heart.
Part horror, part homage to heavy metal, part road trip and all awesome We Sold Our Souls is pure unadulterated fun and a metal lover’s paradise. It is a totally bodacious book, it is going on my books of the year list and I fucking loved it!🤘
Purchase We Sold Our Souls.
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