The sub-title says it all: The Biography Of James Hetfield
Mark Eglinton is one of the new kids on the Metal publishing scene and his reputation is growing. The Californian has written about or co-written books about Behemoth, Pantera, Metal Blade Records and Metallica, specifically James Hetfield. Pairing up with another growing and exciting Rock/Metal publishing firm, Lesser Gods, the two have combined to reissue the 2010 book, SO LET IT BE WRITTEN with updated material, taking us to 2017.
The simple paperback featuring a semi-silhouetted Hetfield on the cover, meets all the basic requirements. There is a nice forward by Chuck Billy of Testament and about a dozen colour photos on glossy plates in the middle of the book. It is over 200 pages long but the font is a bit bigger, so it is really not that long of a read. At times it seems a bit padded as the author wanders off-topic, talking lots about Metallica but with less direct reference to Hetfield. However, I suppose it is all part of providing context.
After speaking with author Joel McIver, who has written extensively about Metallica, Eglinton decided he wanted to expand on the Hetfield story and the result is the first biography of the iconic frontman. I’ll state right up-front, I’ve never fallen pray to the cult of Hetfield. I think he is a bit over-rated as a singer, lyricist, and guitarist and I’ve always gravitated to the more cerebral Lars in terms of personality. However, no one can deny his stage presence, persona and all those other intangibles that make him one of the greatest frontmen of all time.
Eglinton is a pretty big fan, perhaps a bit too much as he heaps praise on James calling him a genius among other things. In that sense not only is the book a loving tribute but it is a bit slanted towards the subject. It seems that Hetfield can do no wrong in the eyes of some but fortunately Eglinton stops short of hero worship. He does say that Hetfield is the heart of Metallica, which I really disagree with. It is Lars who has kept the Metallica ship afloat all these years, as a band, a business, while Hetfield struggled with his proverbial ‘demons’ aka drugs, alcohol and absenteeism.
The biography is conventional starting at the beginning with lots of interesting and revealing details about Hetfields difficult early life. Loaded with quotes and interviews of Metallica insider, the book is about as in-depth as you could get. That is the crux, without direct access to the subject, this book, or any biography for that matter, will seem just slightly incomplete. Until Hetfield writes his own life-story, this is fantastic and mandatory read for all fans of Metallica.