Author: Tom Mungovan
Title: Heavy Metal Speaks!
Date: July, 2018
Communication is key. As simple as that sounds, it is by asking and answering questions that information is disseminated. Interviews have long been the backbone of Metal media and Tom Mungovan has taken that to heart.
Mungovan has written and published a book called HEAVY METAL SPEAKS! The sub-title is ’17 interviews with the Masters Of Metal Music’. At risk of understating what this book is about, basically he interviewed 17 artists he likes, no more, no less. Every artist gets asked the same questions, and there are 57 questions! There are 14 bands represented as three bands (Nuclear Assault, Sacred Reich and Fates Warning) have two members from each band interviewed. The paperback consists plain black and white text, no pictures. He adds a few personal lists in the back and stars out with a brief explanatory introduction. By reading the intro alone you get the sense that Tom is a passionate and dedicated Metal fan. You can tell what his tastes lean towards as the interviews are with 80’s thrash bands and a hint of punk/cross-over (Crumbsuckers, Cro-Mags) and even the thrash bands selected lean in that direction. All of the bands members interviewed are all middle-aged, white, American guys but that doesn’t matter. Some liberal, politically correct types might get pissed off and say the list of people isn’t ‘inclusive’ or representative of Metal or some other BS but I don’t care…Mungovan is talking to who he wants to talk to so it can’t be judged in those terms.
One curious point Tom made in his introduction is that he claims this is the first book of it’s kind which is not even remotely true as I must have a dozen books like this in my library alone. I don’t think it was malicious or bravado, I think maybe he just isn’t aware that interview style / oral history books where people ask multiple artists the same questions are common. He says he deliberately wanted to go a bit more underground rather than interview all the familiar big names, which is very cool.
One minor criticism and it is not even a real flaw, is that because he loves these bands, (he calls them founding fathers) he sees things through rose-coloured glasses and thinks these bands are more popular and influential than many of them really are. For example Question 41 is, ‘You are a Metal Icon. How does it feel that millions and millions of people know who you are and that they like your music”. That is a bit of a stretch for most of these artists! The artists he chose to interview is a mix of active and inactive guys, about half of the bands broke up ages ago or are barely on life-support. It seems a bit like he just wanted to interview guys in bands he likes, even if they haven’t put out any new music in 20 years or more.
The questions are a bit more unique than the usual fare. There are some good inventive questions and the range of questions is everything imaginable. He covers a lot of ground and you get to know the artists. I feel that 57 questions might have been too many, there were several questions that all sort of asked a similar thing and could have been condensed into one question. You could tell many of the answers were pretty short, perhaps because many people didn’t have time to write out long answers to everything. The guys in Fates Warning had by far the longest, most detailed answers and Jon Oliva probably had the shortest answers and not necessarily everyone answered all the questions either. Some were funny, some were serious but all of it was interesting in it’s own way.
In the end how high you would rate HEAVY METAL SPEAKS may be influenced by how much you like the artists. I’m going just a little lower in my score because I’m not really a big fan of a bunch of the people being interviewed (many of them dormant for 20+ years) I’m not as interested about what they have to say. Conversely, you as a reader may be really curious to know what Perry Strickland (Vio-lence) collects in his free time or if Gary Meskill (Pro-Pain) gets stage fright. It is all interesting trivia and a cool look deeper into the minds of some cool, under-appreciated, mid-level Metal dudes. It is a cool collection of interviews and I’d like to see it continue and have a Part Two, Three, Four and beyond with a broader range of artists from different styles.