Released: 2013, Plexus
Mick O Shea is a well know British journalist who has written many pop-culture books over the years including titles about Katy Perry, Amy Winehouse and a pop band called One Direction. I was familiar with him via his book about Guns And Roses but when I received his new book the metal themed CEMETARY GATES, I was a bit skeptical as he doesn't have a lot of credibility as a Metal writer.
Although I had assumed that the book was named after the Immortal song, 'Eternal Years on the Path To The Cemetary Gates' from their album PURE HOLOCAUST, apparently it was named after the song 'Cemetery Gates' by an American band called Pantera. Who knew? Joking aside it is a decent looking paperback, 256 pages long with 20 black and white photos. There is a brief foreword as well.
Essentially CEMETERY GATES is a collection of brief biographies of 20 different rock/Metal personalities. 10 of the artists are alive (listed as Survivors) and 10 are not (listed as Saints) The whole concept is nicely framed with alive/dead theme laced with a sub-theme of seven deadly sins, but this is just window dressing on what amounts to 20 straight-up biographies. In both sections, the artists are logically listed by date of birth, from the earliest birthdate, (Dio) to most recent.
O Shea does a competent job at regurgitating well know facts about these 'Rock Stars' with very little new or interesting info on any of them. He does a good job at perpetuating the myths and legends about the artists, (eg. Lemmy has toxic blood, the Led Zeppelin 'Mudshark' incident, Ozzy took a bit of a bite of a bat, and so on) and while the truth behind many if these stories is quite benign, the legends themselves are far more interesting and titillating and O 'Shea trots them out faithfully.
My earlier suspicions of 'O Shea were founded as he gives us a batch of generic bios. Many of the artists listed have had biographies and/or biographies published and the author uses those as source material, which is fine from a research perspective but I've read all those books to so there was very little new or interesting in his work. For example, Lemmy, Ozzy, Mustaine, Slash, Manson, Taylor, Sixx, have all written autobiographies and several of the others have had monumental works written after their deaths so really there was not much new. There no bonus features such as discographies or timelines; it's pretty streamlined.
I wasn't thrilled with his choice of artists for inclusion, I would have kept it more 'Metal' and dropped the Nine Inch Nails guy, the Alice In Chains guy, both Slipknot guys, the Avenged Sevenfold guy and Marilyn Manson, however those are more popular, young artists that will sell more copies of the book than say a guy like Cozy Powell or Clive Burr.
My instinct tells me that CEMETARY GATES was intended for a mainstream Hard Rock audience in that aspect it succeeds admirably. It’s a simple, fun, light engaging read with a bit of shock value thrown in for sales. If you like the artists covered I’d recommend it to most folks but as an avid reader of Heavy and Hard Rock bio’s it didn’t hold as much value for me.