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The Australian Metal Guide (Book Review)
Released: 2002, Publisher: Moonlight Productions
There are a number of reasons why I could be very critical of this book. In brutal honesty it is pretty poorly produced. Before I mention some of the flaws, it should be understood that this is intended in the spirit of constructive criticism and I’m sure the author was limited by time and money as so many independent projects are.
The book is essentially an 87 page, heat-bound, photocopy in black and white, mostly text. The cover is pretty dull; the graphics are pretty poor as is the layout and general design. I think it would not have cost much more in terms of time or money to have a friend with a decent graphics program to add some visual flair to this very dull looking book. There are very few pictures and they are in black and white as well. I would have liked to see a guest essay about the history of Aussie metal, some quotes, anything to add a little more spice. One very cool element is the appendix listing all the releases by two local metal labels, Warhead and Def Records.
What salvages this book? The incredible content. In most art or literature substance will always win out over style unless you are a Hollywood movie producer. The AMG is the first and consequently the most comprehensive and well done reference guide to the Australian metal scene ever. Griffin has done a fantastic job researching and compiling this info. Hundreds of bands are listed alphabetically, including all genres and styles from Hard rock to Black. Some of the entries are a little sparse on info but it must be very hard to find accurate info on these ultra-obscure bands that did one EP in 1987 in the middle of the outback. Overall the discography and line-up information is present and quite comprehensive. Griffin scatters a few editorial comments throughout adding a dimension of readability that is often missing from encyclopedia style books.
As an archivist, historian and librarian of metal (man, that sounds bad) this book is fantastic, essential reading for everyone on that continent and dedicated headbangers everywhere. Australia has had a vibrant, diverse and dedicated metal scene for many years and this excellent book will help get many of these great bands (who struggle against time, geography, distance, exchange rates, to get noticed) the exposure they truly deserve. Highly recommended.