First half of a projected two-part biography of the metal masters of the universe.
Former Kerrang! editor Brannigan (This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl, 2010) and U.K. rock journalist Winwood dreamed up this ambitious undertaking over pints in a London pub. Both Brits had covered Metallica for years, and clearly, both held the megaband in the highest regard. This volume covers the hardworking, hard-drinking, hard-driving band’s first decade, from its founding in Los Angeles by drummer Lars Ulrich and rhythm guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield in 1981 to the preview of its game-changing fifth album at Madison Square Garden in 1991. (Among the 10,000 fans lined up to hear the album were "members of that summer's other most celebrated band: Nirvana.") True to its title, this biography also follows each significant member—including founding lead guitarist Dave Mustaine and the man who replaced him, Kirk Hammett—from birth through school, life in Metallica and, in the case of bassist Cliff Burton, shockingly premature death in a tour bus accident in 1986. Though a devastating personal and professional loss for his colleagues, Burton’s death caused scarcely a skipped beat in Metallica’s unstoppable momentum toward world domination: Three weeks later, the bassist was replaced by speed-metal hero Jason Newsted. In one of their most interesting revelations, Brannigan and Winwood entertain (without fully dispelling) rumors that Burton and Hetfield had actually been conspiring to replace Ulrich, whose talents as drummer were as controversial as his talents at self-promotion were not. Though the writing is uneven, sometimes bogging the narrative’s momentum down in unnecessary verbosity, the authors’ enthusiasm for their subject is infectious. They’re well-placed to show how Metallica learned from their British New Wave of heavy-metal forebears and, in true Oedipal fashion, killed the fathers to create something new.
For metal heads and most fans of hard rock.