The Encyclöpedia öf Heavy Metal review
When I got this book, my first reaction was along the lines of, "WTF?! What on earth have I ordered here?" To be honest, I took just a quick glance before shelving it as a mistaken purchase of a book for kids or glam fans - this due to the fact that its layout and graphical style makes it look like a mix between Kerrang and a teen girl idol magazine. It has a (very) high content of full color, high gloss idol/ pics of artists. (Perhaps it did really not help that I opened it on a P.R. photo of Poison in full make-up.)
Recently I, on a whim, pulled it out again and actually took the time to read the foreword and a few entries and kinda warmed to it. I became intrigued and read on to discover how utterly wrong that first impression had been.
Yes, the book contains a lot of those publicity "artificial" band photos, complete with make-up and permed hair - but thankfully also loads of less styled photos, live shots and a liberally sprinkling of images of patches, backstage passes etc.
But what really won me over is the author's obvious love and knowledge of his subject and an entertaining style of writing.
Ok, so what do we have here? This is a large (Roughly the size of a LP cover), coffee table style of book, which contains encyclopedic entries covering around 200 bands, and various inserts covering subject like genres, metal clothing, mags, etc.
While this is both in title and organization an encyclopaedia, it is far from complete in scope or level of detail in the entries. The selection of bands are very personal and a little eclectic with inclusion of quite a few bands, that this reviewer has never heard of and more than a few bands which is strictly not metal.
But that does not really matter, as it this is not a book that should not be taken too seriously, it is not a scholarly work or anything along those lines. Rather it is a fun, entertaining book that lists 200 bands that the author finds important and tells the tale of each. This are not necessarily the most detailed band biographies you'll find, but he manages to cut the crap and give you the essentials, with a strong focus on musical style and lyrics.
This is very well done, not in the least due to the author's witty and at times delightfully sharp pen, when he points out the follies of bands, metal fans or the general public. And it is obvious that this is written by a genuine metal fan.
The 80's are obviously the author's point of reference, and the book is to some extent a celebration of the metal culture that had its heyday in that heady decade. But never fear - enough newer bands are included to make it more than just an 80's celebration.
At the end of the day, the book is great lighthearted fun and I have come to like it a quite a lot, not in the least because of its personal tone and quality of writing, not to mention the often great live photos and hilarious P.R. photos from an age gone by.
This is recommended for metalheads who fondly remember the 80ies or who are just into an entertaining read about our favourite genre.
Author: Daniel Bukszpan
Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co.
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