26 October 2008

The Books of Metal

Like the rest of you, I'm obsessed with metal. Especially the more extreme varieties. It's only been this century when publishers have finally started publishing material that deals with extreme metal. Most of the books have been in the form of sub-genre discographies, but there are quite a few history books that attempt to cover specific forms of metal. Thanks to the recent Swedish Death Metal book, I've been inspired to write this short guide to the good (and some bad) metal books in my collection.

  • SWEDISH DEATH METAL by Daniel Ekeroth (ISBN : 9780979616310) 2008 Bazillion Points
A massive history of the Swedish scene. It includes lots of material from the thrash, crust and black metal scenes as well. A good discography, lots of interviews, lots of pictures. Every metal book should be this good!!!
  • THE N.W.O.B.H.M. ENCYCLOPEDIA by Malc Macmillan (ISBN : 3931624161) 2001 Iron Pages (Germany)
800 pages. Small type. Published in Germany, but it's all in English (with some typos). An amazing document of all bands from the NWOBHM. Amazing! A lot of these bands only released one 7", yet they have a thorough history in this book. One of the most concise and detailed music encyclopedias I've ever read. Highly recommended!
  • METAL: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE by Garry Sharpe-Young (ISBN : 9781906002015) 2007 Jaw Bone
This book is divided up into genre/country sections and highlights about 200 bands. The band histories are generally really good - certainly much better than Sharpe-Young's previous books. As long as you're not looking for anything obscure, it'll be here.
  • A-Z OF BLACK METAL by Garry Sharpe-Young (ISBN : 1901447308) 2001 Cherry Red Books (UK)
Has lots of bands, but not all of them will be considered black metal. Each listing has a discography and may or may not have a history that is even correct. This series has quite a few errors in each book. I can only recommend them if you're a completist. You're better off checking the RockDetector website.
  • A-Z OF DEATH METAL by Garry Sharpe-Young (ISBN : 1901447359) 2001 Cherry Red Books (UK)
  • A-Z OF DOOM, GOTHIC & STONER METAL by Garry Sharpe-Young (ISBN : 1901447146) 2001 Cherry Red Books (UK)
At least this came with a CD. Don't be fooled by the cover typo that describes the CD as power metal.
  • A-Z OF THRASH METAL by Garry Sharpe-Young (ISBN : 190144709x) 2002 Cherry Red Books (UK)
This also comes with a sampler CD. There's plenty of obscure thrash bands, along with some crossover (like COC) and some punk (like DIE KRUEZEN).
  • CHOOSING DEATH by Albert Mudrian (ISBN : 193259504x) 2004 Feral House
Subtitled 'The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore'. A great history of early grind as well as the early death metal bands. Recommended.
  • TRUE NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL by Peter Beste (ISBN : 9781576874356) 2008 Vice
An American reprint of the ultra-rare Japanese book. All photos. Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, Darkthrone. Includes reproductions of interviews with Mayhem from Slayer magazine and the infamous Kerrang articles and interviews with Burzum.
  • BLACK SABBATH by Martin Popoff (ISBN : 9781550227314) 2006 ECW Press
The best history of the band that I've ever read. Over 300 pages with lots of interviews with all the members and plenty of photos. Highly recommended.
  • LUCIFER RISING by Gavin Baddeley (ISBN : 0859652807) 1997 Plexus (UK)
It's really a history of devil worship in Western culture, but he has some nice chapters on the music, specifically metal, through there is plenty of industrial music represented. Interviews with Anton LaVey, Danzig, Mayhem, Burzum, and more.
  • SOUND OF THE BEAST by Ian Christie (ISBN : 006052362x) 2003 Harper Collins
One of the first histories of metal that includes the extreme forms - thrash, death, and black. It's a little dated now, but well worth the read.
  • HELL BENT FOR LEATHER by Seb Hunter (ISBN : 0060722924) 2004 Harper Collins
The author recounts his life in a sub-DOGS D'AMOUR English sleaze rock band. It's funny and entertaining, but not too metal.
  • THE GREAT METAL DISCOGRAPHY by Martin C Strong (ISBN : 0862417279) 1998 Canongate (UK)
At this time, a very dated discography. Very little extreme metal, but lots of hard rock and sleaze rock.
  • THE COLLECTOR'S GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL by Martin Popoff (ISBN : 1896522327) 1997 Collector's Guide (Canada)
Avoid! It's a collection of reviews of lots of metal, punk, and hard rock. You know something's wrong when his favorite CELTIC FROST record is 'Cold Lake'.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for including "Metal: The Definitive Guide" by Garry Sharpe-Young in your list. Jawbone Press is pleased to announce a new Metal book coming soon: "The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists" by Joel McIver. Joel edited "The Definitive Guide", and makes it his mission to correct the mistaken impression that hard rock is heavy metal and heavy metal is hard rock. He sets out to rectify this tragic situation with the definitive list of guitar warriors: one hundred axe-slingers who don’t bother with showoff rock riffage and power ballads – they play METAL. Specifically thrash metal, death metal, power metal, doom metal and the traditional heavy metal that fans have known and loved since Tony Iommi first placed his industrially-truncated fingertips on a power chord back in 1970. Check it out!

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how many metal books you can find once you start to look. I'm actually reading "Hellbent for Leather" right now. Its good. Like you said, not too metal (from an academic perspective), but it does have some interesting observations about the "metal lifestyle" from someone who lived it. have you read Chuck klosterman's Fargo Rock City? its very similar to Hellbent, and I'd highly recommend it, as well.

good summary! thanks!

Anonymous said...

One day I will by them all.

Thanx for listing, very nice of you!