Released: 2007, High Volume Press
METAL GENERATION is one of the more personalized books about Metal I have read. In many ways this book reminds me of Seb Hunters book, HELL BENT FOR LEATHER: CONFESSIONS OF A HEAVY METAL ADDICT, in that ultimately it’s just some guys opinions about Metal. Written by Daryl Keck, METAL GENERATION in a nutshell is Keck’s experiences working in the Metal industry. It was first published in late 2007 and it is an over-size paperback format. It’s about 250 pages long, nice to look at, black and white, lots of photos, and has a nice readable layout and design.
Keck is a Metal fan who grew up in the 80’s in Arizona and the semi-autobiography details his thoughts feelings and experiences about Heavy Metal over 25 years or so. He worked in the local entertainment newspaper industry and frustrated by the lack of support for Metal he decided to start his own fanzine. His ‘zine, Amplified Assault ran for six issues between 1988 and 1990. Much of the book details his struggles and efforts to support Metal by producing the fanzine at the expense of his career and at times relationships.
There is a tone of detail about his interactions with industry people, printers, labels, agents and provides an interesting look into the gears of the machine. There are lots of great photos, flyers, and bits of pieces of memorabilia as well as some lists of recommended listening. Keck talks with passion about Icon, Sacred Reich, Flotsam & Jetsam and some of the other regional dudes he was in touch with on a regular basis.
Keck’s story is in many ways unremarkable and not all that different from many other people who laboured in the underground world-wide to create fanzines (or record companies, or promotion companies) to try to support the music that they love. Keck really needed to get his story off his chest and unfortunately he is a very negative person and it shows through in his writing. He constantly expresses his frustration and disappointment at the Metal industry, the bands, the media, the record labels, advertisers and more. He comes across as jaded and bitter. He is not cruel or unfair, in fact many of comments are very likely true. As an industry person, I’ve experienced the same roadblocks and frustrations myself, but I didn’t feel strongly enough to write a book with a very negative tone.
He admits that METAL GENERATION may piss off many people, which is fair but I felt he had a sense of undeserved entitlement and when things didn’t go his way he got pretty upset. Ultimately, he was just one guy from Arizona with one fanzine (that ran six issues) among a pack of hundreds of guys world-wide with hundreds of fanzines. Keck recalls that he would get really upset when a label wouldn’t send him a free promo copy, or perhaps broke a promise to buy an ad in his fanzine, or a band didn't phone him on time for an interview or a security guard didn't let him on a tour bus. The whole tone of the book was pretty negative and left a sour taste in my mouth.
I feel that his final paragraph truly summarizes his whole reason for writing the book and perhaps provides an insight to why it comes across as so bitter. Keck speaking of his own book says, “Some bands will be irritated, but you’d be surprised how many bands I contacted wouldn’t grant me 20 minutes for an interview. They are probably the same guys bitching that VH1 or other Heavy Metal books fail to mention their band. I will say if there wasn’t the arrogance, the sub-standard albums, the lack of integrity, the politics in the business, the ‘rock star’ trips, and so many other things, it would have been difficult to write a book on my involvement. I would just be sitting here full of great memories singing everyone’s praises instead of spending months writing a book chronicling the past 2 1/2 decades”.
METAL GENERATION is an interesting and highly readable autobiography loaded with opinions and insider information and many salient points about Metal over the past two-decades. Keck is a keen observer of the scene and without a doubt a dedicated, hard-working fan but it’s a bit of a downer to read his story from his cynical and jaded perspective. I guess it can’t all be sunshine and roses so his story is one worth reading and maybe after reading his tale, you’ll be thankful that you never started that fanzine (or website) you always dreamed about!