Popoff, Martin – Metallica: The Complete Illustrated History (Book Review)

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: January 2014
Released: 2013, Voyageur Press
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP


Another title in the excellent Voyageur press series of illustrated histories.

In one sense I’m almost overwhelmed trying to review these Voyageur Rock/Metal coffee table series. I’ve read and reviewed almost of all them (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Rush, Art of Metal) in the past couple of years and I never cease to be impressed by the quality of these publications. Because they are so similar in style, layout and design, I feel there are only so many ways to describe the same thing over and over. Metallica was the next, somewhat predictable candidate, although I might have put money on Kiss, Black Sabbath, or Deep Purple being the next band in the series, or maybe Judas Priest on a long shot. As it stands Metallica gets the nod for book #8 and I’m sure Voyageur books about those other Metal titans are not far behind.

The cover of METALLICA THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY is very eye-catching. As per usual the oversized hardcover is printed in full-colour on nice glossy paper and the book is just under 200 pages long. There are 10 chapters divided into roughly into an album era of the band. Each album has an extended review and/or commentary by some guest writers including some of the usual suspects in this series, Bukszpan, Wall and Daniels. I’ve read so man reviews of the classic albums that oddly enough I enjoyed reading the reviews of the …shall we say, less popular albums, namely LOAD, RELOAD and LULU. Andrew Earles in his review of LULU comes off as a bit of an apologist without touching on how really bad the album supposed was but he writes for Vice, Spin, The Onion and Decibel so what would you expect? With a band as huge as Metallica I’m sure there could have been more info packed into the book but there are already several comprehensive biographies on the market, loaded with the minutiae of the day-to-day existence of the band.

One of the primary components is the visual aspect. There are countless photos of pieces of memorabilia scattered through the book, T-shirts, posters, ads, ticket stubs, passes, you name it, much of it from the authors collection I suspect. There is also a nice, intimate intro penned by Popoff as well as a pretty comprehensive discography, mini-bios of the contributing authors. Many, many of the interviews are directly attributed to Popoff as well during his decades long reign at Brave Words and these add an air of authenticity and intimacy, we all know Lars has never met a microphone he doesn’t like! For being ‘just’ a drummer he is arguable the most high profile non-frontman in Metal and I for one admire his passion to promote his band and vision at every chance he gets. He says some odd things without thinking first but he rarely comes across as abrasive as Mustaine or as crazy as an Ozzy. Like the later era Metallica (or not) you can’t deny his passion and vision and that comes through in the many quotes and interview in this book.

The decision to purchase METALLICA is an easy one. There are so many publications about the band on the market (about 20 by my count) that only the most die-hard Metallicats will own them all. The rest of us mere mortals will have to choose wisely and this is the safest bet thanks to it’s expansive coverage, readability and gorgeous visuals. Eventually this book series will grow in such stature that bands will not care about admission to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, but their career credibility will be measured by the following criteria; Do they have a Voyageur book written by Popoff?

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Technical Details:
Format Reviewed:
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Pages: 192