The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal (Book Review)
Released: 2004, Barnes & Noble
Yet another ambitious writing project with the balls to call itself “Encyclopedia!” Naturally this book falls miles wide of the mark representing less than 0.01% of the metal bands and including a dozen or so that are not metal at all. I can’t understand why so many authors/publishers try to define them work as ‘definitive’ in some way when they are so clearly not even close. It lacks credibility and smells of sales ploy. In reality there are only about 200 bands covered in this book, but it’s a start.
TEOHM is a big beautiful book. This thing is a monstrous tome, bigger even than Ingam’s lame ‘Book of Metal”! This beast is large, large pictures, over 600 gorgeous photos, nice thick glossy pages, and almost 300 pages long it is as heavy (physically) as hell! It comes with a nice forward from Dio and is surprisingly inexpensive.
Bukszpan is an entertaining author. He needed a better editor as there were dozens of technical mistakes scattered through the book but it was far better than the aforementioned ‘Book of Metal’. There are bands that should probably not be in there and a few glaring omissions. No Dream Theater? No Blind Guardian? He has quite a sense of humour with joke-like captions for many of the photos, showing he is not above poking fun at the genre as a whole. There are weak attempts at discographies and line-up’s but most are riddled with mistakes. One interesting point he tries is a symbolic rating system for lyrical content. It is clear he is a fan who pays little heed to lyrics as he states that Loudness sings about Satan and the Scorpions are a violent, political band! ha! ha!
One interesting and welcome deviation from the normal bands that get included in these sort of metal-primers was the inclusion of a large amount of doom. The authors lists in the index and the inclusion of a number of obscure bands indicate that he is a big doom fan. I for one welcome this because it is rare that bands like Solitude Aeternus and Memento Mori get mentioned let alone a full entry! Doom bands need more exposure and his personal taste helps give some bands the recognition they deserve.
Other neat points are, paragraph segments on metal fashion, venues, genre definitions, labels, radio, and so on, all with commentary and photos. There are several books like this on the market. It is more attractive and user-friendly than a number of the academic attempts to cover metal and is really a gorgeous coffee-table book. I have a number of books on the topic but I get drawn back to this title more often than not. An edited and re-issued version would be an excellent next step. Despite it’s numerous (small and forgivable) flaws it is well worth purchasing.