Hertkorn, Andreas- Seven Metal Inches (Book Review)

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Hertkorn, Andreas –  Seven Metal Inches
Reviewed:  August, 2018
Publisher: Independent
Year Published: 2018
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: JP

It is hard to pinpoint who could be the world’s foremost expert in anything.  If there is such a title of the ‘world’s foremost expert of Heavy Metal 7-inch vinyl, picture discs, surely, Andreas Hertkorn is it.  Hertkorn has recently released the magnificent tome, SEVEN METAL INCHES and I think it immediately confirms him as the king of this rare and interesting format of Metal collectible.

SEVEN METAL INCHES is a gorgeous coffee table book that is part encyclopedia, part history and part interview series all in one monster package.  For whatever personal reasons, Hertkorn latched onto this interesting vinyl format in the early 90’s and has slowly amassed what must be the world’s largest collection of these little beauties. This soft-cover book is over 222 pages long and is utterly packed with visuals. It is gorgeous…assuming you like looking at cover Death and Black Metal album art!   I love the title too, SEVEN METAL INCHES is a nice twist on what might have been the more predictable and boring title, ‘The Encyclopedia of Metal Seven Inches’.   Odd to note, the author is not named on the cover.  I think this could be the only book I have where the authors name is not on the cover!

Part One has extensive detail about the history and development of the format including a few interviews with labels people about the history and viability of the format. There are lots of great old-school photo montages as well giving the whole book a bit of a feel of a classic, b&w, photocopied fanzine. The bulk of the book is an encyclopedia broken into four decades (80’s, 90’s 00’s & 10’s) and each section is laced with interviews of band members of bands that actually released each picture disc and they talk specifically about those releases.   Almost every picture disc included is pictured front and back and all the technical detail is provided, track list year, label etc and then the accompanying interview where applicable. It will take you quite a while to get through it and like most encyclopedias it meant to be used as reference, visited periodically, more than just sitting and reading it cover to cover.

There are about 50 interviews in these sections, it is incredible…from bigger name bands like Venom, Carcass, Napalm Death and Dimmu Borgir to lesser known bands like Iad, Mortifilia and Zemial.  It perhaps goes without saying all of the bands featured are of the extreme Metal variety.   Hertkorn also interviews people from labels like Century Media, Megaforce and Hell’s Headbangers. This is a monumental labour of love; the printed culmination of years of experience and knowledge.

I learned an enormous amount about this format.  I’m not a vinyl guy.  I don’t own a single seven-inch picture disc!   I have barely ever seen any for sale in stores, it is just not common.  Hertkorn himself estimates there are only a few hundred ever pressed world-wide!   This is because apparently the clear covering (so the artwork can be seen) that manufacturers use to press the music onto is inferior quality to regular ‘wax’ and so you get a short record of poorer quality.  The cost to make them is high, demand is low, so very few record labels ever made them.  However, they do exist and Hertkorn knows about all of them! They almost seem to be more art and collectible, than actual music for audiophiles. I suppose in the same way when people collect coins and stamps, you can’t actually use them much, it is about ownership and cataloguing, displaying and looking at them.

Despite my not having any Metal seven inches in my collection, I found this little niche market fascinating. Any book that helps expand my knowledge is a good thing. Let’s face it, SEVEN METAL INCHES might be only for ultra-Metal nerds, and I use that term very lovingly as I consider myself one.  I mean, who else is going to buy this book that focuses on something so incredibly niche?   Well, I think it is magnificent and give it top marks for execution and delivery in a beautifully evil package.