Released: 1993, PowerChord Press
Martin Popoff has just released his 30th book on Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. His work hasn’t been getting nearly enough attention in our book reviews section. As of 2011 we’ve only reviewed five of his 30 titles on this site. Well to celebrate the 30th book milestone of sorts, this month (March, 2011) I’m going to go back to the core of his writing career and review the four (or five or six depends how you count) books that are the collections of his reviews. I’ve already reviewed the title THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL VOLUME I: THE 70’s back in 2004. Click here for review. http://www.metal-rules.com/review/viewreview.php
Also reviewed in this series this month are the original COLLECTORS GUIDE and the decade themed follow-up series, the 80’s, 90’s and the newbie the 00’s. Plus we’ll look at his very first book going way back to 1993 RIFF KILLS MAN, the book that started it all. In case you are confused yet here’s how it works.
RIFF KILLS MAN! (1993)
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL (1997)
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume I The Seventies (2003)
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume 2: The Eighties (2005)
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume 3: The Nineties (2007)
THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL Volume 4: The 00’s (2011)
There will be a bit of repetition in this feature/series of book reviews due to the similar nature of each title but each book has it’s quirks and charms. Let’s get to it!
Martin’s first book, almost 20 years ago now, was one of the first books about Metal I ever bought. I was kipping University class and wanted something cool to read and found this book. I devoured it (skipping more classes probably) and wrote Martin a long-winded, pretentious and rambling fan letter. To his credit he wrote back (pre-internet kids!) and we have kept in touch ever since. What a great book.
It’s now (I believe) out of print and actually a bit rare and in hindsight here in 2011 it is a very cool retrospective of where he started. The book itself was an indie job, but very well done. It’s just over 400 pages. There are lots of little extras like various appendices, lists, a glossary and some various musing from Martin. It’s a very personal, intimate look at his passion.
The book covers just under 2000 reviews from 1970 or so up to just when grunge was starting to break and Metal was about to expand and eventually explode around 1997. He covers a very good proportion of all the available material at the time. Around the mid-90’s with the evolution of the metal industry and bands embracing it a DIY ethic the industry exploded with new labels and more. RKM captures everything just before that point. The book is subtitled: 25 Years of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and Martin does his best to touch on all the genres that existed at that time, even those in their infancy. Black Metal hadn’t really surged into mainstream awareness and the various sub-genres and sub-sub-genres had not quite yet crystallized. His Glossary on 403-405 helped to define genres for many people.
Martin establishes his now familiar style of a ten-point scale, bands listed alphabetically by name and then chronologically by release date. I think there was an early passion in his writing because he was actually buying these records perhaps, instead of getting free copies and feeling obligated to review things that maybe he wasn’t as passionate about.
If you can find a copy it is a decent addition to your metal library and a starting point for Martin’s writing and publishing empire. My higher score reflects my enjoyment and nostalgia of the book. I have a personal connection to RKM but if you are a new fan trying to find this today, (unless it has historical value to you) you may want to pass and get the next version, THE COLLECTORS GUIDE TO HEAVY METAL.