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Bruggemann, Jorg
Metalheads-The Global Brotherhood (Book Review)
June 2013
Released: 2013, Gestalten
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

As the lifestyle, image and even attitudes of Metal fans become increasingly entrenched in culture, the study and exposure of Metal fans is also increasing. Much like people who are fans of the Sci-Fi series Star Trek identify themselves as 'Trekkies', (or Star Wars fans who identify themselves as 'Jedi') we see an increasing number of books, academic papers and even documentaries exploring the Metal phenomena. METALHEADS is a photographic essay about Metal fans from around the world. Subtitled; "The Global Brotherhood". METALHEADS is one of many books published in the past few years that are collections of photos but this one has two unique features. Other books tend to focus on one genre and collect shots of bands and/or cover art or capture like a specific point in times such as GLORIOUS TIMES (Moses/Pattison) the photo study of the early 80's Florida Death Metal scene or MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW (Oimoen/Lew) the photo study of the early 80's Bay-area Thrash Metal scene. METALHEADS is far more international in scale focusing on the developing world and secondly the book tends to emphasize fans and the live experience, rather than just bands.

This is a good-sized, hard cover coffee-table book that is 144 pages long. The full-colour photos are printed on nice paper. There are three or four brief essays about various aspects of Metal, but mostly centered on being a ‘fan’. There is a nice interview with Mille of Kreator on the same theme. I wont bother analyzing the essays, but they are entertaining and heartfelt. Lastly, there is a CD sampler consisting of Nuclear Blast artists. METALHEADS is a nice looking book; big, full page pictures and the layout and design are simple and effective.

The shots are from around the world, taken in many formal and informal settings, some are posed or staged and some are candid. There are a good amount of live shots and random fan shots as well. The photos were taken (listed alphabetically) in America, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia and Switzerland. A large percentage of the photos were from Indonesia. This is a truly mazing collection of photos of Metal fans from around the world.

In terms of criticism, I would have liked to have the photo description listed with each photo. Some of the photos at first glance have nothing to do with Metal at all, but once you flip to the back and red the caption it makes more sense of what Bruggemann was trying to capture. For exams the photo on page123 shows two young women dressed normally (ie. not wearing Metal clothing) and not looking or acting provocatively; they are just sitting quietly and I wondered what the point was. However after looking up the description in the back we discover that the pair of nice looking, young women are a pair of groupies in Switzerland, probably on a tour bus. There are a few more examples like this. I would also suggest that in some of the third-world shots, that the people in the photos may not be Metal fans. This is not a criticism against the people in the photos but just because a kid in a slum in Indonesia is wearing a Cradle of Filth T-Shirt does not mean he is a Metal fan or even know who COF are. Perhaps it is the only shirt he has or perhaps he bought the bootleg shirt dirt-cheap at the market because it looks cool. Being a Metalhead is more than wearing a shirt.

The photos truly capture the fact that Metal transcends age, race, religion, gender and nationality and brings out the concept of brotherhood. Concepts of unity are very common among Metal fans that have been culturally discriminated against for decades. Phrases like 'Metal is My Religion' and the 'Metal Brotherhood' are often used by Metal fans to self-identify and Bruggemann’s book METALHEADS is a very interesting look at Metalheads from around the world.

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