Medina, Javier – Thrash Metal

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Author:  Medina, Javier
Title: Thrash Metal: A Close Analysis Of The Musical Influences Behind This Extreme Form Of Music Of The 1980’s.
Publisher:  Independent
Published: 2015
Reviewed: June, 2018
Rating: 1/5
Reviewer: JP

In principle I completely support the idea of self-publication. There are at times when I think just because you can write a book, doesn’t necessarily mean you should, not at least without some help.   THRASH METAL is one of those examples.

I bought this self-published book recently and I’m sort of regretting it.  THRASH METAL, with the unwieldy sub-title of  ‘A Close Analysis of the Musical Influences behind this Extreme form of Music of the 1980s.’ should have been my first clue.  The sub-title is a mess with three mistakes!  The book is a 141-page paperback, with a handful of black and white drawings courtesy of author Javier Medina.   I’m not really sure who Medina is, he doesn’t provide any sort of bio, but does mention in the preface he grew up in NYC in the 80’s.   I just assumed he is a passionate fan with something to say.

Medina takes us on a very brief history of thrash that is interesting and well researched and supported by decent references and sources.  Medina has chosen to provide a very focused and somewhat revisionist history of North American thrash metal each chapter focusing on a certain aspect.   Broadly speaking this is a very left-leaning and politicized interpretation of thrash history.  There is little or no effort to be unbiased or neutral.   The book is loaded with broad generalizations and only focuses on America and only a six year span from 1983 to about 1990.   There is a chapter on NYC record stores, while interesting, is misplaced and irrelevant to the broader history of thrash.  Many cities world-wide had independent record stores that sold thrash, not just NYC, so to list a few seemed unimportant and is not really a ‘musical influence’ as per his subtitle.   He talks about famous producers and industry people like Zazula, Geffen and Perils and tackles the topic of thrash from many angles. He covers the bases in an introductory level examination of the topic.

There are any number of good reasons to have an editor check your work.  I myself have made my fair share of mistakes and cringe at things I’ve written that have gone unchecked, but this is very poor.  The first (of many) negative points of this book is the horrible, horrible spelling and grammar.  I know this is self-published Metal, not a spelling bee or grammar rodeo, but it is really, really bad.  There are countless spelling, grammatical, punctuation and capitalization mistakes. Too many too mention.  It is almost unreadable.   By page 23, I was very frustrated.  By page 58, it dawned on me that English is probably not the native tongue of the author, so I had to soften my stance.   That is why you get an editor, preferable someone totally fluent/proficient in English. There are so many mistakes I can’t begin to describe them all; band names wrong  (‘Aero Smith’ and ‘Merciful Fate’), names wrong, (it’s Chuck Schuldiner, not ‘Shouldiner’), words that don’t make sense and some that don’t even exist.  For example, he kept misspelling the word ‘genre’ phonetically as ‘genera’.   It was painful to read.

Medina is a punk fan and gives way too much credence to the influence of punk on Thrash.  His chapter is even called, ‘Seek And Destroy; The Losing Battle of Heavy Metal Against Punk’.  Yes, the punk influence existed, largely in the past but not to the degree he suggests.  He also over emphasizes the emphasis of rap as well.  At one point (p. 61) when speaking about Slayer and the songs ‘Read Between The Lies’ (SOUTH OF HEAVEN) and ‘Skeletons of Society’ (SEASONS IN THE ABYSS) he says, “ The rap influences in these songs alone is just astonishing’.   A brave assertion indeed!  ‘Losing battle’?  Thrash bands outsell and and outnumber punk ends 10-1.

Another section that had me shaking my head was when he suggests,  “King Diamond’s falsetto vocal style is reminiscing (sic) of the Bee Gees Disco era of ‘Saturday Night Fever’. Adding to that is the powerful Disco beat in the beginning of the last track, ‘Come to The Sabbath’ and towards the end of it.  The band goes right into an obvious disco/funk break of a Rapper’s sampling delight with King Diamond providing the eerie vocal melody that would make any Disco Bee Gees fan’s hair stand on end.”  (p. 60) I know people hear and interpret music differently from each other but I’m not sure we heard the same record in this case!

There is a long chapter where he tries really hard to discuss the influence of gay lifestyle and culture on Thrash music but for some reason proceeds to talk about non-thrash bands; Queen, Ramones, Girlschool, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister and Manowar and concludes by asserting that, ‘Manowar has directly, or indirectly become ambassadors of homosexuality in the entertainment business tradition.’  (p. 114)  His other evidence that thrash is gay, is the fact that Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett once kissed so they must be gay, despite them saying very publically on multiple occasions it was a joke at a publicity stunt to annoy the somewhat homophobic James Hetfield.

In the end, his pro-punk, pro-rap, anti-thrash bias is revealed. The last chapter is called ‘To Sell Out Or Not: There is No Question’ and is an indictment on the entire genre.  Medina makes the following claims about the genre suggesting thrash music, thrash performers and thrash fans are delusional, paranoid, close-minded, destructive, desperate, ignorant, hypocritical and the music is not to be taken seriously.  His last sentence (which doesn’t even really makes sense) says, “In conclusion, a self-destructive sub-culture that sacrificed itself to their false prophets, who in turn became bigger through their loyal followers mass moral, ethical and spiritual suicide”. (p. 133)  Wow!   I couldn’t help but think to myself, if he hates thrash so much, why did he write a book about it?

While I disagreed with a huge amount of what the author wrote, it was an interesting interpretation and he did research his ideas and try to provide references and quotes to support his position. THRASH METAL is a fundamentally flawed revisionist history of the genre. Unless you are a masochist, I’d avoid this one.

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