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Review: Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal
Book Review
Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal
Publisher: HarperCollins
Author: Ian Christe
Year published: 2003
ISBN: 0-06-052362-X
Pages: 386

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: June 1, 2003
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal

Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (2 Votes)

"Wow" is probably the shortest way to express the feeling upon reading Ian Christe's detailed history of heavy metal. Through an impeccable, expressive and sometimes metaphorical writing style, the author covers heavy metal from its origins (and to some extent, the origins of the origins) up to sometime in 2002, over 30 years of headbanging history: Quite a challenge that the author takes on with great prowess, covering the various periods and events with his own experience and through quotes from the antagonists or from the press at the time. The book covers the music and its scene as well as the politics that sometimes bumped into this controversial genre (eg. the PMRC and various frivolous lawsuits against metal bands), as well as extreme music taken to extreme level, such as the church burnings of the mid-90s. To keep this review short, I won't go through the whole table of contents but rather point you to the book's excellent companion web site at where you can preview each chapter.

Not perfect - but pretty much as close as such a piece of work can possibly be - there are some minor mistakes, such as throwing AC/DC into the NWOBHM bandwagon and a few other little things like that that can easily be forgiven, as they don't have much impact on the overall storyline. Metallica are quite omnipresent in the book, at times overshadowing everything else (in some chapters I almost felt like I was reading a Metallica biography :)), but then again it would have been a mistake to ignore the band's huge impact on metal music history. Then again I can't shake the feeling that the result kind of ignores other bands' large contribution to the scene.. I did run into a few little things that I disagree with, and that'll most likely be the case for most people as well. Nevertheless, I survived, and so will you. :) Hell, I even survived the section dealing with "nu-metal" (I guess that one couldn't be avoided... ;))

Minor bitching aside, this is one impressive piece of work and a page-turner. You'll be done with the near 400 pages in less time than you're done reading your favourite metal magazine. Get this one before you get any other metal history book, you won't regret your purchase.

Additional Information

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