Dome, Malcolm & Harrigan, Brian
Encyclopedia Metallica (Book Review)
Released: 1980, Bobcat Books
This is the book that started it all. Encyclopedia Metallica was I believe, the very first book written and published about Heavy Metal. As legend has it, Lars Ulrich had picked his band name from this book title. The front cover defines the book as ' The Bible Of Heavy Metal' which back in 1980 was really not that far from truth, when the musical genre was just barely into its first decade and only recently being defined as 'Metal'.
Naturally this book is out of print, but it seemed to have a pretty large print run because you can pick it up at a reasonable price from various on-line retailers. I recently bought a good condition copy to be a librarian but also for nostalgia as I signed this book out of my school library a number of times in my early teen years. The book itself is an oversized paperback, roughly 94 pages long with about 75 black and white photos.
The book is divided into four main segments.
-Born To Be Wild. UK scene ’66-75
-Running With The Devil. US scene ’66-80
-Metal Rendezvous. Europe ’66-80
-Getcha Rocks Off. UK scene ’76-80
Each section is an essay outlining the development of the genre and lots of accompanying photos. The prose is easy and digestible and flows nicely. There are quite a few mistakes but can you imagine researching this book pre-internet and virtually before any Metal magazines even existed? Most of the errors are minor, dates, catalogue stuff that only true trivia hounds and die-hards of that particular band would notice. Englanders, Dome and Harrigan did some groundbreaking work documenting the rapidly growing scene from deep in the heart of the NWOBHM. It is a fun easy read that in hindsight, really demonstrates how the genre has evolved. Reading the intro by Biff Byford of Saxon is really cool, he still has the same fire for Metal as he did writing the intro almost 35 years ago. As a book it does have it’s flaws; it’s only black and white, no table of contents, index, citations, no discography or bonuses of any kind. It’s just the four essays and lots of cool old photos.
Evaluating ENCYCLOPEDIA METALLICA by today's standards is not really a fair way to analyze this book. The genre has grown and evolved so rapidly and dramatically since its publication that to compare this to current books would be akin to comparing a 1980 owners manual to a Ford truck to one of today. It's just plain out of date! Think about it, Slayer and Metallica didn’t even exist when this book was written! For me the value lies in ENCYCLOPEDIA METALLICA, by today’s standards, is the value it presents as a weapon in the war against historical revisionism that is rampant in the Metal Industry. So many young fans who are ignorant (in the purest sense of the word) of the history of Metal will often attempt to rewrite history to suite their own selfish, misguided needs to redefine Metal as something palatable to their inexperienced ears. From the young authors who write metallic histories but completely neglect incredibly important and influential bands, to owners of database sites like Metal Archives that deliberately exclude Metal bands that they don’t like, this book can serve as a useful tool to educate those young fans. ENCYCLOPEDIA METALLICA is an important historical document for those who care to educate themselves on the history and evolution of Metal.