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Review: Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal
Book Review
Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Author: David Konow
Year published: 2002
ISBN: 0-609-80732-3
Pages: 480

Rating: 3/5

Review online: July 13, 2003
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal

Rated 2.33/5 (46.67%) (3 Votes)

I ordered this book at the same time I ordered Ian Christe's book "Sound of the Beast". This book doesn't read as easily as Ian's, being packed with a lot more material - yet more focused. "The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal" is kind of a misleading subtitle, since the book focuses more on the L.A. scene (mostly "hair metal" bands) than on the full-blown metal scene itself - well, that makes for a good part on the "fall" since the hair bands plummeted without parachutes in the early 90s. There are some mentions of the other metal scene of the 80s, the less visible "traditional heavy metal" and thrash bands that were enjoying some success but were largely overshadowed by the "hair scene". Metallica and Megadeth are some of the bands that enjoy quite a bit of coverage.

The books seems a bit unfocused, since it jumps back and forth between bands and years, so you can find yourself reading about Poison in the early 90s in one paragraph, then Guns and Roses in the mid-80s in the next. This takes a bit of getting used to, and, having just finished the book, I'm not sure I really got used to it. The book is filled with behind the scenes information that at times almost make it sound like a gossips book, but a lot of the information is quite interesting nonetheless. There's a lot of information as to the humble origins of a number of bands, how they got signed, how they broke up, etc... One might wonder if everything in there is true, but the book ends with a very extensive list of references, so I think the author did his homework.. And when breakup stories differed (think Van Halen or GnR, for example), he writes the different sides of the story. This is also yet another book that shows how much bullshit goes on in the music industry...

I didn't like this nearly as much as Ian's book, and I think it is mostly due to the fact that the book pretty much ignores the strong metal underground of the time and focuses almost solely on the mainstream scene - and just like any mainstream music, that scene was bound to rise and fall - no surprise there. The last several pages are particularly depressing, focusing on the fall of several bands, hell, you'll almost want to shoot yourself reading some of this stuff.. OK maybe not, but you get the idea.

This is not a bad book, it's in fact pretty good, just be aware of what you're buying so that you don't expect to find your favourite underground band in there (Christe's book does a better job at that.) The author obviously did some extensive research to come up with so much material on a limited number of bands, and he should be hailed for his good work. I think those who "grew out of metal" in the late 80s/early 90s would find it pretty complete, because it covers pretty much all they've ever known of the metal scene: Big bands on big labels. Those like myself who are in the habit of looking deeper will find that a lot is missing. Recommended if you want to find out more about these bands... Otherwise get Christe's book.

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