Reviewed: July 2021
Released: 1993, St. Martin’s Press
There are many, many books about Metallica and this is one of the very first. It might even be the second one ever published. Eddie McSquare (if that is his real name) wrote, I believe, the first book about the band called WHIPLASH back in 1990. It was one of those glossy, mostly photo books and it wasn’t very well done. You can read my review of it if you like here on this site. In 1993 two books about Metallica were published, K.J. Doughton’s, METALLICA UNBOUND, and this one. I’m not sure which one hit the bookstores first.
METALLICA:THE FRAYED ENDS OF METAL is a 225 page paperback. This is a bit deceiving because there is a ton of white space and really wide margins so it is considerably shorter. There are a number of pretty rough black and white photos and a brief discography with the key releases. This is an unauthorized biography.
Crocker goes with straight narrative retelling the story of the band. After a brief introduction with whirlwind energy he runs us through an amusing and well-done history of heavy music and Heavy Metal up until when Metallica hit the lights. Then we get another 22 short chapters without titles. He could have named them or organized them a little better. There are quotes and pictures scattered across the book breaking it up into a short, fun, easy read.
Crocker is a Metallica fan. He is clearly enthusiastic of his subject matter coming across as almost, but not quite, a gushing fan-boy. Using lots of magazines articles he pulls quotes and stories. It almost is written for a younger audience, his prose is playful and casual with some nice turns of phrase that show his excitement for the music. I like Metallica, I’m not the world’s biggest fan, and accordingly, I learned a few neat bits of trivia that kept me engaged and interested even thought the info maybe old news for die-hard fans. He covers each album in detail with equal attention and care.
I’ve known about this book forever and finally came across a copy in a used bookstore and thought I’d add it to my library. Reading THE FRAYED ENDS OF METAL in 2021 it would be very easy to criticize but I had to keep in mind a number of elements. This book was written largely before the internet was wide-spread. Information about the band was much more hard to come by. It was one of the very first books about Metallica it is unauthorized, so Crocker was using all second hand information and the band was really only just barely into it’s first decade of existence. Considering all that, he did a pretty good job. There are any number of more recent Metallica biographies that are far superior (Brannigan, McIver, Popoff, Wall) but they had all the advantages that Crocker did not have. He was a bit of a pioneer and for the Metallica enthusiast this is worth getting.