Its fans are among the most loyal and most rabid in the music industry, and it has survived nearly forty years by having the uncanny ability to constantly re-invent itself…it is Heavy Metal. Metal: The Definitive Guide is no mere hyperbole, but the on-target description of this massive 500 page book from Jawbone Press.
With a foreword by Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Metal: The definitive guide is equal parts history book and encyclopedia that features detailed information on over 270 bands and nearly 200 photographs. The book is laid out in sections by type of metal, including traditional metal, Thrash, Death, Doom, Black, Progressive, Power, and more. While one can argue, perhaps, that these categories tend to overlap, you have to admire author Garry Sharpe-Young for being able to place each of the nearly 300 bands neatly into one of the twenty different categories.
The bands are listed alphabetically in each of the categories with detailed information about the band’s history and its music, often accompanied by quotes from the band members. The book is filled with interesting recollections and revelations. Ozzy Osborne had already planned on starting a new band even before leaving Black Sabbath and it was Ozzy’s father who suggested the name “Blizzard of Oz.” Interestingly, W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes auditioned for the band before the late Randy Rhoads was hired instead.
Before you think that the book will only cover the well-known names, think again. Even a longtime metal fan like myself was unfamiliar with many of the names in the book, particularly those European Black and Doom metal bands such as Arcturus, Dark Funeral, My Dying Bride, Sleep, and Entombed.
The most notorious of all forms of metal, Norwegian Black Metal gets its own section, apart from the other worldwide Black Metal bands. Perhaps the most infamous of these bands was Burzum, a solo project led by Varg Vikernes. Vikernes was implicated in a number of church burnings and later convicted of the murder of former Mayhem leader Euronymous, often credited as the godfather of the Norwegian Black Metal Scene. Vikernes is now serving a 21-year prison sentence.
Other bands covered in Metal: The Definitive Guide include: Armored Saint, Dio, Exciter, Megadeth, Overkill, Cannibal Corpse, Venom, King Diamond, Napalm Death, Celtic Frost, and Voivod. What you won’t find in the book is any mention of 80’s hair bands like Poison or Cinderella, fittingly, and with a nice backhand across the face, the candy metal bands have been excluded.
One last treat that Shape-Young includes is a complete discography of band that includes album title, record company, release date, and item code, an excellent reference tool for collectors! For true, hardcore fans of metal, this book is one you must have.