Released: 2013, Voyageur Press
Coffee table books featuring Heavy Metal art are getting more and more common. In the past couple of years there have been at least five put on the market. I really enjoy these types of books and I own most of them (they have been reviewed for the Library Of Loudness) and I can say with confidence that this is one of the best.
THE ART OF METAL is a piece of art unto itself. Voyageur Press is by far the world leader in Metal themed Coffee Table books in terms of quantity and quality. This oversized, hardcover is 224 pages long with hundreds of images printed quite large on nice, glossy, heavyweight paper. There is a brief Foreword by Lemmy and a long introductory essay by Malcome Dome. The collection is divided into eight chapters divided along genres lines. Oddly enough Death and Thrash are lumped together, no Power Metal (!) and the unfortunate inclusion of a chapter of Nu-Metal. Each chapter comes with an introductory essay by an expert in each genre and there is a brief bio of each writer in the back. Most of the names will be familiar to well-read Metal fans with people like Barton, Dome, Lawson, Popoff and Reesman. Popoff also acts as a consulting editor for the tome. Another nice feature is that each image comes with a description, credits and trivia which is something that some of the other similar album cover books like HEAVY METAL THUNDER sorely lacked. This is more than just a compilation of pictures of album covers you may already own. There are some shots of gig posters, zines, T-shirts, but yes, mostly album covers.
THE ART OF METAL is not without problems however. Oddly enough, like many of the books in this style, there is an aversion to include Traditional, Classic and Power Metal. I would have dropped the Nu-Metal chapter and added a chapter on Power Metal. Chris Campos book, METAL AND HARDCORE GRAPHICS also suffered from the same syndrome, a lack of representation of what is arguably the largest genre of Metal. Some of the most active, prolific, popular and most recognized metal artists are completely left out of THE ART OF METAL. There was very little to no representation of some of the top Metal artists in the world right now…
Andreas Marshall from Germany (Rage, Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Grave Digger),
Eric Philipe from Belgium (Iron Fire, Iron Mask, Mystic Prophecy, TNT, Mob Rules, Riot, Sonata Arctica)
Travis Smith from America (King Diamond, Nevermore, Overkill)
Felipe Franco from Columbia (Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Jorn, Rage)
Marc Klinnert from Australia (Rhapsody, Axel Rudi Pell)
JP Fournier from France (Avantasia, Dragonforce, Edguy)
Luis Royo from Spain (At Vance, Skylark, Nocturnal Rites)
I understand that the Popoff, Dome and Voyageur can’t include every Metal artist but to leave out these extremely high-profile artists was a poor decision. There is easily room for a Part II, which could be quite a bit more contemporary showcasing what Metal bands are choosing as their cover art in 2010 and beyond.
Growing up my preferred music format was cassette; compact, portable, playable in the car, ghetto-blaster or Walkman ™. Of course the major drawback of cassettes was the tiny art. That is why I love books like THE ART OF METAL. Finally, I can really see the magnificent art that adorns so many of the tapes that I own, often for the first time and seeing details I never saw before. If you only choose one Metal Art/photography coffee table book of the couple of dozen or so on the market, THE ART OF METAL would be the best choice.