McIver, Joel- Extreme Metal (Book Review)

Spread the metal:

Author: McIver, Joel
Title: Extreme Metal
Date Published:  2000
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Reviewed:  August,  2018
Reviewer: JP
Rating 3.5/5

This book review is not really that contemporary and could be filed in the list of reviews I’m writing in my noble and eternal quest to review every Metal-related book ever published since the dawn of time. One of the earlier book reviews I wrote for the then fledgling sub-section Library of Loudness, was my review of EXTREME METAL II, first written by Joel McIver in 2005 and reviewed by myself in October of 2011.  I wrote to McIver and asked if he had any copies of the original EXTREME METAL lying around and he did not.  I have been looking for it ever since and recently came across a reasonably priced copy on-line that was in good condition.  So in an effort to be a historian I bought it and now I’m writing a quick review of it.

First published by Omnibus in 2000, this was one of McIver’s first books.  He has since gone on to be one the world’s biggest and most well-read Metal authors/journalists.   This slightly oversized paperback in 160 pages long and is loaded with photos.  As one might surmise, EXTREME METAL II  is just a revised edition of this book and I’d recommend going and reading my review of Part II, first, I go into more detail.   I’m basically reviewing these two books ‘out-of-sequence’. Instead of essentially repeating myself,  I’ll keep it short.

This original version covers 250 bands in an encyclopedia style and EXTREME METAL II covers 400 bands.  It is similar in tone and execution.  I like the raised silver/metallic embossed cover title!  There is a nice forward from Mantas, an introduction from McIver himself, an FAQ section and at the back end of the bus there is a list of other extreme bands that didn’t warrant full entries and various references.

It is kind of fun to go back and read this book with the advantage of hindsight.  Some bands were big, now not as much.  At one point McIver mentions that thrash has become a fringe movement, and back in 2000 that was true, before the big global thrash resurgence.  He also predicted that Power Metal would fade, because that scene/style was white hot in the late 90’s early 2000’s with bands like Hammerfall leading the international Power Metal resurgence, but he was off the mark on that one, as Power Metal becomes more and more popular every year.  Overall, this book is a really great snapshot of Extreme Metal at the time. Some might argue by today’s standards how ‘extreme’ bands like some of the Power Metal bands are, but no matter. He covers a wide range of styles, genres and has great international coverage from the ‘big’ name Extreme bands to some of the bright lights of the underground.

EXTREME METAL from a historical perspective is a pretty cool book.  Remember this is still when big on-line Metal databases were in their infancy or did not exist at all (ie. pre-Metal-Archives) so McIver did all this research himself and it is remarkably accurate.   If you find a copy, it is worth putting in your library.   I’m giving this book a 3.5  out of five as compared to EXTREME METAL II (which I gave a four out of five) only because he added another 150 bands to Part II…but it is just as good. I’m glad I finally added this now increasingly rare title to my library.