Released: 2009, Nicotext
I really enjoy books of lists and naturally grabbed this right when it came out. This is the first book of metal lists (to my knowledge) written by a female, not that it really matters. The cover is plain but visually striking and eye-catching. Fun title, great size, nice paper stock, good font, lots of colour all combine to show that this book is well-produced and visually appealing. Well done.
Following a short forward and disclaimer the book is just over 200 pages of the Top 100 albums. Each album has one page with the basic technical data about the album in question a two-three paragraph synopsis of each album and a small snapshot of the back cover. It has a few bits of trivia about the bands. The main page is nicely laid out and easy to read. Directly opposite is a full-colour shot of the album cover, nice and big with the track-listing. The albums are listed alphabetically. It really is great to look at.
Let’s get back to the disclaimer in the forward. Bond states, “One element that should be removed entirely from the equation is personal taste: whether I revel in or am repulsed by Cannibal Corpse does not play a part in this book. My definition of what makes an album great is based on the quality of the music, the quantity of people effected by it and it’s influence on the metal scene.” (p.5) I feel it was very clever and almost necessary to make such a statement to define the parameters of the list. The author acknowledges that there will never be a unanimous list. I’m not sure I agree as Martin Popoff’s global survey earlier in the decade has come the closest to statistically finding consensus on the Top albums. My second skepticism is that many of the albums are quite new, trendy bands that have not had time to effect a large quantity of people and certainly not had the time to allow other bands to draw from those influences.
I had the pleasure of speaking briefly with the author and she felt that the book should be ‘inclusive’ meaning include as many genres and styles as possible. While I admire the sentiment and it was a good choice, I personally would not have included many of the bands that I do not feel are worthy of inclusion and some barely qualify as ‘Metal’ at all. I was disappointed to see bands like Tool, Slipknot, System of A Down, Rage Against The Machine, Marilyn Manson, Korn, Godsmack, Deftones and a handful of other included. However, I understand intellectually the reasoning for inclusion, I just don’t agree with it. For the record I have heard all 100 albums on her list and own 88 of them, the other dozen (mostly grunge and industrial albums listed above) didn’t make the cut.
For the most part the list is fairly well done, most of the minimum, mandatory choices are there, the Black Sabbath’s, Dream Theater’s, Yngwie, the Helloween’s, the Metallica’s and Megadeth’s of the world. It is a bit of a mainstream list it doesn’t really dig into the breadth and depth of metal culture, the choices of which album from each band are a bit pedestrian but there some odd choices as well. For example choosing Mayhem’s, Wolf’s Lair Abyss instead of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas struck me as odd. No matter, those choices made for a fun read and good debate.
There was one key problem with the book that was brought to my attention by the author. The publisher in the urgency to meet the deadlines unfortunately rushed the editing process. Consequently, the book has dozens and dozens of mistakes. I stopped counting after finding 25 errors and that was just off the top of my head. The author is fully and painfully aware of these mistakes and shouldn’t really be held responsible for these errors. With that taken into consideration, the errors, while making the reader cringe, do not impact the overall quality of the book. If this title was, for example, an encyclopedia, it would be unforgivable, but as a coffee-table style book, I can let it slide, knowing the truth behind the project.
This is a great read for any metal head. It might broaden a few horizons, inspire people to check out a new bands or revisit old favorites and I know at this years annual year-end wrap up metal party, it will inspire some raging debate, all in good fun.