Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, by Ian Christe

(hb; 2003: non-fiction)

From the inside flap:

"From its cataclysmic beginning with Black Sabbath more than thirty years ago to the hyperactive nu metal bands ripping apart the charts today, heavy metal has become the dominant musical force around the globe. Yet despite selling more than a quarter-billion albums and breaking into new markets wherever it can be heard, metal has never been given a complete overview of its dark, powerful, and untamed history -- until now.

"Included here are heavy metal's primitive origins, the rise and fall of MTV hair metal, Metallica's successful quest for world domination, the devilish frenzy of Florida death metal, the church-burning fever of Scandinavia's morbid teen terrorists, and metal's return to center stage at the hands of Ozzy Osbourne and Ozzfest.

"Plus readers will get:

"Twenty chapters based on interviews with Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, W.A.S.P., Slipknot, and more than one hundred other great heavy metal bands.

"A timeline of the most explosive happenings in metal from 1970 to 2002

"A list of twenty-five heavy metal masterpieces that changed music history

"Genre boxes breaking down dozens of metal styles, from thrash and black metal to avant-garde and beyond, including essential CDs

"Exclusive insights from Chuck D of Public Enemy, Iron Maiden artist Derek Riggs, the directors of Paradise Lost, and more..."


Christe provides an excellent overview of metal, its effect on society (and vice-versa), and its musical permutations into subgenres over the past thirty-something years, making this real-life narrative -- much of what was familiar to me, given that I'm a metalhead -- more user-friendly for non-metal readers with genre-specific bullet lists and a detailed timeline. The writing is engaging and solid, with occasional flashes of appropriate metal-esque hyperbole; many of the interviews are illuminating (the star factor is impressive and knowing), with genre breakdowns that are well-defined and charted.

This is a gotta-read for any metalhead, and a great starting point (in terms of readership) for anybody interested in metal. Good stuff.

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