Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Merciless Book Of Metal

Have you ever been in this situation? You’re in your local boozer and surrounded by your friends and they start wax lyrically (to talk about something with a lot of interest and excitement) about a band or genre of our wonderful heavy metal and you haven’t got a damned clue about any of it. You start to sweat, then shake and then suddenly they’re asking you about it-what do you think about Anthrax’s first albums? Do you think Cliff Burton is the greatest bassist or is Geezer Butler the greatest by the default of blah blah blah? You shake some more and then blurt something inane and the following morning you have no friends and wake up in a tree listening to 5ive.
Obviously this is extreme and unlikely to happen to you (and is totally not based on my own experiences) but it’s as if Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins (the two writers of this book) had decided that the above was the norm. The Merciless Book Of Metal Lists or MBOML has almost every list you could think of! We’ve got the serious ones like, Best Metal Albums Ever, Best New Heavy Metal Bands Of 2000s (thank God Mastodon were on there!), 10 Hardcore Punk Albums That Shaped Thrash Metal which, for a fan just starting out means  you get introduced to a whole host of new bands! And for the already educated it’s just great to read about this stuff! Maybe there’s an album or band that’s been at the bottom of your pile and needs a replay? These lists are written with passion and imagination which you would expect from a pair of guys that live eat and breathe metal (there’s even a playlist of what they were listening to when writing the damned thing!)
There are also the supremely silly lists, written with flair and wonderful irrelevance, we’ve got 10 Observations From Lemmy’s Warts, WWVD What Would Varg Do? And my personal favorite which is written with a healthy topping of vitriol, 10 Reasons Dave Mustaine Declined To Participate In This Book. Number 2 is my favorite;

“He was practising his guitar solo snarl in the front of his bedroom mirror with a tennis racket for the umpteenth time.”

There are some great insights as the twosome have got a forward from Kerry King-who has such class and humility, thoughts from Danny Lilker, articles from the owner of Metal Blade Records and an amazingly honest and highbrow afterword from Phil Anselmo; whose love of metal is in every word he writes. I’ve always found it fascinating when one legend talks about another candidly, this is Anselmo’s thoughts of Slayer’s Hell Awaits;

“Repeated listens produced the ability to consume it and truly understand the meaning of ‘heavy.”

Experiencing Slayers hell Awaits was the perfect storm. Period.It’s all punctuated with loads and loads of pictures which are fantastic for many reasons. Firstly we get  a list of 200 Embarrassingly Bad Album Covers, and my God there are so many bad bad bad ones particularly from the 1980s which I now desperately want to own. On the other side it makes the whole book terrifyingly easy to read for fans that won’t necessarily class themselves as readers, because of the lists, the throwaway style and pictures you can dip back in and out to your hearts content!
Abrams and Jenkins don’t pull any punches in what they consider bad (Nu-Metal be prepared). It’s refreshing to hear a writers vent their opinions with passion! As Kerry King says in the introduction which just sums up any self-respecting metal fan:

“…hard-core Metal fans want everything. Even if they download an album for free, they still buy the CD, the vinyl, the picture disc…everything. It’s a brotherhood.”

Well said Mr King and this is a must for everyone everywhere.

The Merciless Book of Metal Lists will be available from April 9th 2013.


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