“The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3: The Nineties” by Martin Popoff

Artist: Martin Popoff
Title: “The Collector’s Guide To Heavy Metal: The Nineties”
Label: Collector’s Guide Publishing
Release Date: 8/1/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

And so we have arrived at Martin Popoff’s “Final Chapter” in his trilogy of “Collector’s Guide’s to Heavy Metal” tomes that have both enlightened and informed us for a number of years. The first volume focused on the 70’s as Heavy Metal music began to draw up its strength and morph from the Blues-based Hard Rock that Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple delivered while the sound first introduced by Black Sabbath began to inspire scores of bands after them. Volume 2 focused on the 80’s – a decade that was loaded with big hair and even bigger music. It was all about Glam Rock for many during this decade and even the beginning of Power Metal to some extent. At the end of the day this remains an era that many music fans pine for in terms of overall output and creativity. The closing volume brings us back into focus on the 90’s which was a very interesting decade in Metal’s history to say the least. The traditional sound became mixed with Grunge and Industrial while new doors to Black and Death Metal were opened and took up a serious rise while some others such as Glam Metal and Power Metal seemed to take a hiatus in some parts of the world. For those of us who live in the States, it seemed as though the Grunge movement led by Nirvana, Alice In Chains and others were the the death knell for true Heavy Metal music. Yet around the world we found the birth and rise of bands such as Nightwish, EdGuy, Sonata Arctica, HIM and many more while Black Metal experts such as Immortal, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir all showed that they meant business and each of them was worthy of attention.

For this closing chapter Popoff has outdone himself by compiling some 3,073 reviews and should you have read the previous volumes you will instantly realize that he has upped the game quite a bit. There are over 500 more reviews than the second volume and almost 2000 more than the first. It’s quite a bit of review commentary to absorb and you are best served by it if you take it slowly and from the beginning. As in all the volumes that preceded it this is in alphabetical artist order and Popoff lines out his thoughts on each of the albums that they had released during the decade. Whether you agree with him or not is entirely up to you and based on this being one writer’s opinions on the releases in the volume there are sure to be some readers who rally up behind the author and some others who will probably scream for his head. Another way that I found is fun to read this volume is by looking at the bands that you love the most to see what his views on their artistic output was. If you love KISS, then check out the KISS section first, or if Van Halen is your sanctuary then head over that way. All in all, this edition and the companion volumes are must have reference books for your Heavy Metal library. I don’t say this as someone who is in total agreement with Popoff’s viewpoints but more so in the basis that when standing on the shelves together they offer you a perfect overview of an incredible amount of Hard Rock and Metal releases. Should you read all three of them you are sure to come back the highly enlightened Head Banger.

Popoff maintains in the introduction that this is his last go at such a volume and that the torch will probably be passed on to someone else in the Bravewords camp, but I will believe that when I see it. I think we will find Ozzy retiring or Guns ‘N Roses “Chinese Democracy” being released long before Mr. Popoff decides to stop giving us these kind of books.

As was done with the other two volumes, a CD of rare music is included for the reader to enjoy either during or after they finish looking through the book. The first edition offered some interesting music as did the second, but with this edition that I think that the best offering was presented. The CD is entitled “The Second Decade” and features all Metal Blade Records artists. A number of different genre aspects of Metal are presented on it which makes it something that you will listen to more than just once. It is also a great way to go back in time to see what was developing on Metal Blade Records, a label who only recently celebrated their 25th anniversary.

Track Listing:
1. Fates Warning – Point Of View
2. Skrew – Charlemagne
3. Mercyful Fate – Egypt
4. Six Feet Under – Human Target
5. Gwar – Warghoul
6. King Diamond – Black Hill Sanitarium
7. Sacred Reich – Breakthrough
8. Galactic Cowboys – Feel The Rage
9. Flotsam And Jetsam – It’s On Me
10. Crisis – Mechanical Man
11. Amon Amarth – Without Fear
12. King’s X – Ono
13. Bolt Thrower – Laid To Waste
14. The Crown – Black Lightning
15. Cannibal Corpse – Blowtorch Slaughter

Official Website: www.martinpopoff.com

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