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Ingham, Chris (ed.)
The Book Of Metal (Book Review)
January 2011
Released: 2002, Thunder Mouth Press
Rating: 1.5/5
Reviewer: JP

The subtitle on the cover of THE BOOK OF METAL says ‘The most comprehensive encyclopedia of Metal ever created’. Well, that is simply not true. From a marketing/sales perspective I can why they might state that but off the top of my head I can name half a dozen metal encyclopedias that were published before this one, that are more comprehensive. Strike One. This book was compiled by some of the staff of Metal Hammer UK. Strike Two. This book is riddled with mistakes and flawed on many levels. Strike Three. It's not worth buying or owning.

Published in 2002 admittedly, this is a big, beautiful book. The large size paperback is big, bold and glossy, well-laid out, eye-catching fun and easy to read. It is packed with dozens and dozens of full-colour photos. They did a really good job designing this book. There are some lists, incomplete discographies, some sub-genre descriptions, and a few recommend albums as well. However, we all know that style does not outweigh substance.

The key flaw is that THE BOOK OF METAL includes dozens and dozens of non-metal bands. There are alt-metal, nu-metal, alternative, rap, industrial and grunge bands in the book. Bands like Blink 182, Creed, Nirvana, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Limp Bizkit are not metal; never were, never will be, and the very bands themselves would say that! To include these bands at the expense of real Metal bands like Blind Guardian, Angra and Rage is just inexcusable.

The editor says in his introduction that an exercise to classify Metal is pointless and reduces it’s value. The revisionist streak continues as he justifies the choices for bands to be included by calling it all aggressive guitar based music. Just because a band has an electric guitar does not qualify it for automatic entry into Club Metal! At least a third of bands in the book should not be here.

Another problem is that the authors focus heavily on UK bands. Bands like Vex Red, Lost Prophets, Terrorvision, One Minute Silence are all included while leaving out other far more respected and acclaimed international Metal bands. The authors need to get off their little island and explore the massive international Metal scene. The authors suggest that The Wildhearts are the greatest thing since the Earl Of Sandwich, but in reality outside of the UK the band barely made a blip on the radar. I don’t even think any of their albums were released in North America! I suppose one advantage of the UK-centric writing is that a few good bands do get some attention like, UFO, Thunder, Xentrix, and Wolfsbane but strangely enough no full entry for Saxon, one of the best-selling, longest running, most influential, British Metal bands of all time!

There are so many mistakes it’s laughable. Mistakes with discographies, release dates, album titles, this book was very poorly edited. Not only errors in the technical data but the book is loaded with ludicrous statements such as the UK band Hundred Reasons are the brightest hope for international stardom, the band Two is under-rated and Manowar is ridiculous! Encyclopedias are supposed to present fact, not uninformed opinion as fact. When I read statements such as how it’s easy to confuse Death Metal and Black Metal I cringed, as it obvious the author hasn’t got a clue about the clear and obvious distinction between the two very unique and distinct Metal sub-genres. I could go on…

It seems this book was rushed out and aimed to capitalize on a youth market by being as inclusive as possible. The editor says there will be a revised edition by about 2007 by to the best of my knowledge there hasn’t been an updated version released yet. It looks great on the coffee table but THE BOOK OF METAL is very poorly researched and edited, loaded with errors and the bands included (or excluded) means this book has no place on library shelf.
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