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Abrams, Howie & Jenkins, Sacha
The Merciless Book of Metal Lists (Book review)
May 2013
Released: 2013, Abrams Image
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

10 Things You Should Know About “The Merciless Book of Metal Lists”

1.) It is exactly as advertised – a book of lists. Save for the intro interview with Slayer guitarist Kerry King, a brief preface by the authors and an afterword essay by Phil Anselmo it is 208 pages of lists.

2.) You can probably read this book, cover to cover, in about 20 minutes.

3.) The top five lists most people will care about: “The Best Metal Albums Ever!” (the underlining and exclamation point for emphasis on “Ever!” is theirs), “30 of the Greatest Metal Guitarists,” “20 of the Greatest Metal Bassists,” “25 of the Greatest Metal Drummers” and “20 of the Greatest Metal Voices.”

4.) The five they probably won't: “70 Metal Songs About Metal,” “10 Observations From Lemmy's Warts,” “What Would Varg Vikernes Do?” “10 Heavy Metal Living Social/Groupon Deals You Will Never See” and “15 Metal Album Covers Featuring Goats.”

5.) The shortest list? “Two Band Names Sepultura Considered Using Before Choosing The Name Sepultura,” from ex-frontman Max Cavalera – they were, by the by, Tropa De Shock (Shock Troops) and Guerilha (Guerrilla). The longest slags the “200 Embarrassingly Bad Album Covers.” Oddly, there is no best album cover list.

6.) A large portion of the lists pertain to New Wave of British Heavy Metal and the first wave of thrash and death metal. Contemporary metal takes a distant back seat and genres like black metal are referenced largely — though not particularly effectively - for comedic effect. And what’s with all the friggin’ Manowar?

7.) There are a lot of lists and reminiscences from the actual participants of said New Wave of British /first wave of thrash and death metal – S.O.D./Nuclear Assault’s Dan Lilker, Raven’s John Gallagher, Hirax’s Katon W. DePena, Anthrax’s Scott Ian, Exodus’ Gary Holt, Bitch’s Betsy Weiss. However, there’s not a whole lot of revealing info in them.

8.) Far more revealing – and gross – are the shit-and-puke laden “5 Craziest Things Richard Christy Has Ever Done In His Life” by the ex-Death drummer/current Howard Stern lackey.

9.) And speaking of gross, there's “The 25 Most Fucked Up Song Titles By Cannibal Corpse.” Only 25?

10.) The list of “Best Metal Blogs” does not include Metal

The back cover of “The Merciless Book of Metal Lists” boasts that “this book will start conversations and fights” and that's probably pretty spot-on. It's meant to spark arguments, not settle them. It's silly, irreverent and occasionally downright stupid. But it doesn't pretend to be anything else. It's a book from metalheads for metalheads who like to talk about metal. Simple as that.
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