Title: “Sound Of The Beast: The Complete Headbanging History Of Heavy Metal”
Author: Ian Christe
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2/17/2004
When you take a visit to the local Barnes and Noble or Borders bookstore nowadays you will see quite a few musical biographies on the shelves. As a fan of the Heavy genres it is quite pleasurable to see that a number of these books focus on the lives and exploits of some of music’s most colorful characters (often in very vivid and frank detail). I have enjoyed and recommended several of these so far with Motley Crue’s “The Dirt”, Lemmy’s “White Line Fever”, and the number of releases by KISS’ Gene Simmons; all of them capable of bringing you deeper into their lives of celebrity. You were able to enjoy their war stories, road tales and excitement, and often heartbreak as well. Different from the various biographies mentioned this book takes us on a very historic journey back in time to the beginnings of Heavy Metal music. Taking key moments from heavy music history beginning around the time of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple; author Ian Christie gives us a highly detailed look inside the way it all began with “Sound Of The Beast: The Complete Headbanging History Of Heavy Metal”. I approached the read of this book with a large amount of enjoyment for having finished a couple of biography pieces I was interested in finding out how a Music History book would be presented. Christie does start out from the beginning and of course references the one and only Black Sabbath, however there might be those that feel this area is not covered as much as it could be. The author does make sure to cover many of the vast and varied aspects of the Heavy Metal genre and all the sub-divisions that had sprouted from the doomy-blues laden beginnings of Sabbath. Coverage is given to the bigwigs of the seventies KISS and Judas Priest among others as well as some insight to the NWOBHM and bands that fell under this acronym. A full chapter is devoted to the Black and Death metal bands and to be honest some of that stuff will creep the reader out when they find just how serious they take their various causes. The tail-end of the book leans a lot towards Metallica and one might find fault in that it seems to close out with their being the “be-all, end-all” Metal band.
While I acknowledge their accomplishments as a fan from back in the day, they are far from the greatest and this might spark some debate among those who read the book. That’s good to know since Metal is as much an ideal as a musical preference and its fans are far smarter than they are often given credit to being. The idea that aspects of this book could be debated between two conflicting sides appeals to me as a fan. I know that I did not agree with everything he said and feel he left some points out.
Despite the minor criticisms it is a solid and enjoyable read from page one until completion. The detail of the book is not too highbrow and will keep your interest by not over complicating the represented theories and stories. This is a high recommendation for all fans of the history side of music as well as those who are curious about some aspects of where the genre spawned. It is my hope that Christie writes another edition and focuses a little deeper on some of the areas he only briefly touched upon in this volume. Either way, do yourself a favor and check it out as I think it will be something you refer to often.
Book Specs: 416 pages of Metal history, almost 100 black and white photos throughout the book, 16 pages of color photos as insert, genre boxes throughout the pages as well as a Metal-era Timeline ranging from 1970-2002. Editor’s Note: This review was for the Hardcover edition and the paperback has been released with added material and the option to download and expanded chapter via the provided web link. Make sure you read that after you complete the full edition.