Metal-The Definitive Guide (Book Review)
Released: 2007, Jawbone Press
I believe that this was the last book ever written by Garry Sharpe-Young. Following his tragic and untimely death of natural causes in March of 2010, this book serves (in my mind) as his greatest legacy in the world of Rock and Metal journalism. Second only to Martin Popoff, Sharpe-Young was one of the most prolific and respected Metal journalists on the planet. This was Garry’s 13th book about Metal.
There are about a dozen books in the encyclopedia category that claim to be ‘the best’ or ‘the ultimate’ or ‘most comprehensive’, but in my mind Garry’s version comes the closest. Keep in mind I have read almost all of the metal encyclopedias printed to date (yes, I’m a metal-nerd) and Garry’s just stands out from the pack.
This book is a big, bad bomber weighing in at just under 500 pages of densely packed info and text. It looks great but doesn’t sacrifice substance over style like Ingham’s book. Looking a little more closely Garry had some heavy weight hitters with Joel McIver acting as Editor and Bernard Doe as Consultant and if that wasn’t enough the Metal God himself, Robert Halford pens the foreword.
The book is divided into 20 chapters roughly aligned along with genres or movements within the Metal world. Each chapter has a brief intro, lots of pictures, tons of quotes, limited discographies and biographies on about 270 bands from around the world. In my mind the bands that were chosen were pretty close to 95% what I would have included as the most influential, longest running, best selling, most innovative bands in the genre. It’s nice to see bands like Viper from Brazil, Bow Wow from Japan and Rage from Germany, get the recognition they truly deserve and are so often ignored by the other so-called ‘comprehensive’ encyclopedias.
A key point that I enjoyed is that Garry and his crew didn’t descend into the trap of flaunting opinion as fact. I’ve read many books that poke fun at or outright insult bands like W.A.S.P., Manowar, or Yngwie J. Malmsteen but Garry keeps it professional and neutral. There were very few technical mistakes in the book as well which adds to the air of authority and quality.
This book is utterly loaded with facts, most of them gathered throughout Garry’s prolific career as a journalist. You could literally pick virtually any band in this book, read the bio and find some interesting piece of trivia or factual tidbit that helps bring the book to life.
If you are looking to buy that one book that beautifully encapsulates the genre, forget Ingham’s book, pass on the Virgin Encyclopedia, skip Bukszpan’s Encyclopedia, and go directly to your store and buy METAL-The Definitive Guide.