An indispensable oral history of an often misunderstood musical genre.
The most important lesson this mammoth tome teaches us is that metal means far more than one might believe. It isn’t just Black Sabbath, Slayer, Guns N’ Roses and teased hair, write Revolver senior writer Wiederhorn and Nights with Alice Cooper producer Turman. Rather, it’s an umbrella under which falls numerous subgenres, including thrash, death and black, oftentimes incorporating and/or encompassing punk, rap, and good, old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll. This is why a style of music that hasn’t completely crossed over to the mainstream more than merits this lengthy, in-depth study. The success of an oral history is primarily dependent on the quality and quantity of interview subjects, and here, the authors lined up a veritable murderer’s row of talking heads: Jimmy Page, Henry Rollins, Gene Simmons, Slash, Courtney Love, Kurt Loder, Sharon Osbourne and Dee Snider are among the dozens of high-profile musicians and industry insiders who offer up commentary. The authors also spoke with members of well-known cult bands like Slipknot, Minor Threat and Bad Brains, as well as Type O Negative, Disturbed, W.A.S.P. and Cannibal Corpse. The majority of the interviewees are forthcoming and compelling, which makes for great reading for both hard-core headbangers and general music fans. The anecdotes run the gamut from debaucherous (lots of sex, drugs and violence) to heartbreaking, but there’s plenty of factual meat to satisfy readers in search of the history behind the music and the facts behind the myths. The subtitle doesn’t lie: This hugely impressive achievement is, without question, definitive.
Even if your metal collection consists of a couple of Kiss cassettes and an AC/DC CD, you’ll find this a killer read.