Caught In A Mosh (Book Review)
Released: 2017, Powerchord Press
Hot on the heels of his exceptional and pioneering book of the early days of thrash Metal, HIT THE LIGHTS, author, Martin Popoff is back with Part II in the three part series, CAUGHT IN A MOSH.
Much like his NWOBHM trilogy, this thrash trilogy has the same look and design features so it will sit nicely on your bookcase as a set. This time a young Kerry King gets the call to be on the cover of this simple, but nicely appointed 236 page paperback. In case you are not familiar with the concept, I suggest you go read my review of Part I (Published in May 2017). In a nutshell, the books are an oral history, with Popoff digging into his monster interview archives and cobbling together a time-line of the history of thrash Metal.
It is quite rare that an individual can actually pinpoint the start and explain key milestones in a form of art, be it music or poetry. However, Thrash Metal as a genre has only existed for a few decades so it is quite possible to craft a detailed history. Frankly, I’m surprised no one has written this story yet. I’m repeating myself a bit here from my last review of the first book but I’ve talked to two other colleagues who are working o books about the history of Thrash but the ever-productive Torontonian beat everyone to the punch.
Thrash exploded with the release of Metallica’s debut and most observers agree it was the flashpoint that changed the game. Thusly CAUGHT IN A MOSH starts in the summer of 1983 and extensively chronicles the global thrash scene until December of 1986. The book follows a chronological timeline and is laced with extensive quotes. If the date of an event is in question it gets mentioned at the beginning of each chapter that also includes a little annual synopsis. To spice up the long passages there is lots of memorabilia, old flyers, old ticket stubs, old press shots, tour posters, album covers, and more. We get more and more bands coming out of the woodwork, more info on more bands, first demo’s, first concerts, new players in the game, Overkill, Tankard, Coroner, Exciter and many, many more. I really enjoyed this and felt a strong sense of nostalgia as I pretty much have every album referenced in the book, on cassette no less, and grew up listening to all of it, so CAUGHT IN A MOSH is like the Thrash scrapbook I always wanted but never had. There are interesting sections that got into scene politics like the thrash vs. glam divide with some old vets saying it was all just in fun and that secretly felt glam wasn’t that bad, and others still firmly entrenched into the ‘death to posers’ mentality. The book really digs deep, it is more than just a simple time-line.
I do have one very minor concern with the book series and it’s trajectory. Thrash has grown exponentially and with the global resurgence of Thrash Metal countless young bands, who were too young to be there the first time around, are modeling themselves after the pro-genitors in style, sound, production and lyrics. There are thousands of these bands, some people use the tag ‘retro-thrash’ and unless Popoff commits to a fourth book, there is no way he can do justice the later-age of the scene. The first two books covered from the late 70’s to 1986, barely a decade, and Book Three will likely take us up until the mid-90’s when it all fell apart, so unless the forthcoming Book Three is 500 pages long, all of the Warbringers, Toxic Holocausts and Municipal Wastes of the world (and again, there are literally thousands of them now) are not going to have a place in the narrative.
Word on the mean streets of Toronto is that this print run is fairly limited and selling fast so I’d recommend grabbing a copy of this series really quick. Some of Popoff’s early books now sell for huge money on various on-line retailers, and as this is pretty much essential reading for any thrash fan, it is a no-brainer! Buy or die poser!