Reviewed: June, 2020
Published: 2020, Indie
I’ve talked a lot of about Metalographies in my book reviews lately, these types of books are becoming more and more popular and seem to be coming fast and furious onto the market. SOUTHEAST OF HEAVEN is the latest one, a self-published affair by Don De Leaumont.
If the authors name is familiar it may because he is the founder of The Great Southern Brainfart weblog, which has been running for many years now. The book is a standard paperback, running about 235 pages and has a few scattered black and white photos at the beginning of each chapter. Leaumont knows quite a few industry people as evidenced by these photos of him with famous people so you think he could have recruited a buddy to write a nice foreword! However, there are a few celebrity endorsements on the back.
De Leaumont was born, raised and spent most of his life in the South-east United States hence the title and cover art. This is not so much as an autobiography but a collection of short essays on a variety of topics. There is a sort of chronological method to his madness.
De Leaumont grew up in the 80’s, living a pretty standard sub-urban life, rocking out to Twisted Sister, Kiss, Maiden and Dio, trying to fit in sort of, but never really succeeding until he decides he is just going to do his own thing. Each chapter is a segment of his life, key memories, major events, and how he became to be who he is. What I really enjoyed was his unabashed enthusiasm. He wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t really self-censor too much. He says, “Yeah, I was the fat kid who got picked on; he was never popular, or cool or good at sports etc. He loves Metal to the core and is pretty open-minded in his tastes but his preferences never went much heavier than mainstream stuff or really anything outside of the US, which is common for many kids. He is a good storyteller with energy, humour and enthusiasm. He has a deep appreciation and knowledge of the SE US Metal scene, you don’t hear too many people talk about Lillian Axe, Rhino Bucket, Circus Of Power, Junkyard and those kinds of bands anymore!
I fond that De Leaumont, like many Americans, has a pretty insular, Americanized view of Metal and maybe a slightly inflated sense of worth. That is not a terrible thing or intended as an insult but there are just little clues. For example his first chapter is called, ‘Love Me? Hate Me? I couldn’t help but think some readers might say to themselves, “How can I love or hate you? I don’t even know who you are!”
There is a bit of a presupposition that the audience is American and familiar with his blog in chapters like ‘The Occupational Hazard of Being Me’ where he discusses getting confronted for his negative reviews of albums. It happens to every reviewer. Before reading this book, I sort of knew who he was from the industry, and his blog is certainly worth checking out but his reputation is not stellar and he will be the first to admit it!
However, in his defense he does say early on he is very opinionated, how he came to be that way and he is very confident in stating his opinion about what is good and what is bad with not too much filter. Like I suggested, a so-called stereotypical American, kind of loud, a bit vulgar with lots of F-bombs all through the book and opinionated and that has come back to bite him in the past. However that kind of all ties back into the beginning of the book, love him or hate him!
SOUTHEAST OF HEAVEN has lots of great stories, essays and anecdotes and his stories are entertaining. There is no denying his dedication and love of Metal, attending gigs, interviewing people and blogging about it! It was a fun and easy read and we get to enjoy an unfiltered look into a life largely defined by Metal.