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Bayer, Gerd (ed.)
Heavy Metal Music In Britain (Book Review)
October 2011
Released: 2009, Ashgate
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: JP

The field of academic studies of Heavy Metal is growing at an incredibly rapid rate. In the early 90’s Walser and Weinstein published early studies and as the genre expanded so did the number of people, fans and scholars who wanted to analyze, explain and understand the global phenomena. HEAVY METAL MUSIC IN BRITAIN is one of many books in the popular series of Ashgate books dedicated to the academic comprehension of popular music.

Edited by Gerd Bayer, an English Professor at the University of Erlangen in Germany, HEAVY METAL MUISC IN BRITAIN is a collection of 10 scholarly essays on the title topic. It’s a hard cover, it’s 200 pages long with no pictures, not much to look at. Gerd does an introductory piece titled ‘Doing Cultural Studies With Earplugs’ and there is a brief bio of each contributor.

The essays are broken into three main sections; Metal Commodities (3 essays), The Literary and Mythological Heritage (4 essays) and Metal societies (3 essays). Every author except one holds a PhD, so that alone will indicate this is a strictly academic treatment of Heavy Metal. If ya don’t like reading essays because it reminds you too much of High School, College or University, avoid this book! I found it very interesting but then again I’m a bit of a Metal nerd. It’s pretty expensive too, it was published more for libraries and universities. You can buy it on-line but it will cost you.

The essays range from a bit dull to fascinating, based on your own field of interest. The overall themes are drawing examples from British bands as the book title would suggest. Fortunately there is a wide range of international contributors, male and female, from Canada, America, Sweden, Australia and more which adds a global, gender balanced perspective instead of just a bunch of British guys sitting ‘round the pub pontificating on British bands. Section II, the mythology stuff, I found most interesting, especially Iain Campbell’s essay, ‘From Achilles To Alexander: The Classical World and The World Of Metal and Helen Farley’s piece, ‘Demons, Devils and Witches: The Occult In Heavy Metal Music.’ All of the authors give the genre the respect and credibility it deserves.

If you are a student working on your thesis or dissertation about Metal, this is an invaluable resource. If you are an ‘average’ (ie. knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, headbangin’) Metalhead…it might be a bit dull. If you are die-hard Metal fan who just likes to read about your favourite topic, then this is also the book for you.
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