Weiderhorn, Jon-Raising Hell (Book review)

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: February 2020
Released: 2020, Publisher: Diversion
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP 


Back in the spring of 2013 I read and reviewed a book called LOUDER THAN HELL written by Katherine Truman and Jon Weiderhorn. It wasn’t that good for many reasons. You can go read my review of it if you wish.    Now in early 2020 Weiderhorn has branched off (a solo project?) and written another book called RAISING HELL. Due to the many flaws of the first book I didn’t have many expectations for his new title but of course I need to keep an open mind about these things.

The good people at Diversion books have published this beast of a hard cover book, clocking in at a very generous 460+ pages long.  It comes in a nice looking, eye-catching dust cover and the book itself is well appointed in terms of design and layout.  Gary Holt writes the foreword RASING HELL and Wiederhorn pens the lengthy preface where he tells us a bit about his personal background, his process and his goals for writing this book.  He says, “There are plenty of good, nearly academic books about the history of Metal, this is not one of them”.  (p. 1) I felt this was a good start because by providing this disclaimer he embraces what this book is intended to be, namely a bunch of crazy stories.  The wordy script on the dust-jacket …Backstage Tales From The Lives of Metal Legends Into The Fiery Pits of Chaos…. Also gives us a clue as to what RAISING HELL is all about.

Broken down to its core, RAISING HELL is a collection of stories;  a number of short anecdotes about every aspect of Metal life, as provided by Metal musicians via interviews with Weiderhorn.  A simple concept that has been done on a number of occasions, but there is no shortage of material!

The book flows nicely, easy to dip into as the 13 chapters are broken into various broad sub-categories, for example,  ‘Groupies’ or ‘Drinking’ or ‘Injuries’ and each chapter comes with a clever song/title tie-in/ reference as brief introduction.   For example Chapter Four is called ‘Revelation Nausea’ named after the Vomitory song and, you guessed, it the stories are all about vomiting.  Fun!

Some of the stories are just unbelievable nuts, some are your average stories of , ‘I slept with this hot chick and her mom’ or thrashing hotels and some are a little more interesting like Chuck Billy’s experience of beating cancer or King Fowley’s experiences with the supernatural. To me that is where the book shines.

As I said, I wasn’t expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised and I was quickly won over.   Weiderhorn tried to avoid making the same mistakes in LOUDER THAN HELL and actually interviewed members of bands from more genres and more places around the world. He still completely neglects Power Metal, Progressive Metal and any number of sub-genres, and it is still very much focused on the mainstream bands from the East-coast of the USA, but at least he tried harder and got a few quotes from members of bands from Europe.  Still nothing from the biggest bands on the planet and most the rest of the world but you could tell he tried a bit harder.

I still wasn’t impressed by his very modern, liberal definition of ‘Metal’ as he includes quite a pile of unmitigated crap like Limp Bizkit, Kittie, Avenged Sevenfold, Helmet, Evergreen Terrace, Coal-Chamber, and all that 90’s mall-Metal stuff…and non-Metal bands like Tool and Ministry but the good thing is with the anecdote style of presentation you can just skip over those parts.  Aside from that I had no major complaints.

I’m pretty torn…on one hand as a 50 year old, married guy with kids I’m not quite as thrilled or entranced as I might once have been to read stories about musicians, (virtually teenagers) screwing some chick up the ass with a champagne bottle,  vomiting on groupies, or almost dying from drug overdoes.  However, the material is so well done and presented and the tales of hedonism are the fuel of legends and the mystique of the, often insane, lifestyle of the Metal.  RAISING HELL is a titillating peek behind the iron curtain and the reader perhaps, gets to live vicariously through some of the tales of decadence and debauchery.  In his preface Weiderhorn says there is a reason THE DIRT did so well and RAISING HELL is right down there in the dirt as well.