Let him who have understanding reckon the number of the Beast ... If you recognize that, you're a metalhead. My teen years were filled with the stuff. I still enjoy it (Iron Maiden never gets old). That being said, I had to grab Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal when I saw it at Borders back when the place wasn't an empty shell reeking of bad coffee and despair. Ian Christie, the author, gave his book a bold title, especially considering the "complete" history is done in less than 400 pages. A true metalhead will know something is going to be missed.
To Christie's credit, the book tries to be thorough, and doesn't do a horrible job of it. I discovered some things I didn't know, and I realized there was stuff missing. (The book gives more than a passing nod to the Misfits, but no mention is made of Kryst the Conqueror. I'm sure anyone can make this complaint about any band, however, as it would be impossible to cover everything.) I doubt any metalhead could truly complain about that, though, unless he or she hated Metallica. (The book covers a lot of Metallica.)
As an overview, Christie does a fine job of hitting all the major points in heavy metal history. He doesn't shy away from the dark stuff, either, unlike Chuck Klosterman who revels in the safety of hard rock and heavy metal. Christie gets that there is a portion of this music that is truly dangerous and subversive. He understands it. He writes about it. When writing about Mayhem and the infamy around that band, he doesn't sensationalize it or rally against it. He presents it in a matter-of-fact format that fits with the rest of his book. It is just another section of heavy metal history. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Christie's book is, as a quote from Maxim on its back cover reads, "a must for all fans." There is really no reason not to recommend it. Well, unless you only like pop music. In that case, you may want to read something else.
Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this book with hard-earned U.S. cash. If you click on a link this, you may end up putting some less-than-hard-earned U.S. cash in my coffers. Filthy lucre.
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