Eight Must-Read Heavy Metal Books

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Metalheads are some of the most devoted music fans on the planet. No--I mean we really love our music. Oh, you memorized Lady Gaga's music video dance moves? Check out my Kreator Coma of Souls back piece, and meet my friend's daughter, Sabbath. Later we're going to karaoke to cover Pantera and Motorhead. Wanna come?

But seriously. Not only do metalheads carry a voracious appetite for new music and bands, no matter how obscure, they also devour as much history, knowledge and insight about their beloved music as they possibly can. It's a lifestyle and obsession, and unlike many types of popular music, metalheads tend to embrace their favorite bands and follow them for decades. It seems like lately there's a new metal-related book, documentary or television special every time I turn around. Not that I'm complaining--it just goes to prove how many incredible fans there are out there.

A couple weeks ago I received this monster of delicious metally goodness in the mail.

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powerhousearena
Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal is a 736-page monster that I'm currently addicted to. As in, huddled under-the-covers, bottle of Makers Mark by the bed type of addiction. It's a colossal collection of more than 400 interviews with metal legends as well as a chronological examination of the cultural phenomenon that is known as metal.

It's told by the men and women who created metal, composed it, played it and re-invented it, and examines just about everything--the creation of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest's development of the leather-and-studs look, the introduction of thrash, glam, punk and death metal, Faith No More accidentally creating the first hybrid of rap and metal, and the destruction surrounding Norwegian black metal.

This book has been added to my bookshelf with my other favorite heavy metal reads, from essential guides to biographies, and seeing those inspired me to compile a list of must-reads for any metal fan. Pour yourself a glass of whiskey, and settle in with one of these bad boys.

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powerhousearena
The Merciless Book of Metal Lists
By Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins (2013)

This book could start any number of conversations--or fights. It's pretty much a book in the form of dozens of factual, random and outrageous lists, calling out the best and the worst, and the triumphs and failures in metal history.

Its 200 pages span everything from 20 of the Greatest Metal Voices and Most Important Metal Demos of All Time, to 20 Bands Often Considered Metal But Aren't and the Top 11 Things People Say to Start a Conversation with Me by Anthrax's Scott Ian.

With a foreword by Slayer guitarist Kerry King, and an afterword from Pantera/Down frontman Philip Anselmo, the book also has contributions by Scott Ian, Gary Holt (Exodus), and Max Cavalera (Sepultura/Soulfly.)

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Examiner.com
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground
By Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind (1998)

This book details the sad-yet-true early Norwegian black metal scene in the early '90s. Satanism, murder, betrayal--it's all in here, alongside such names as Mayhem and Emperor.

It's a classic page turner, and although the author provides a rich history of the scene, the detailing of violence and church burning is what really widens the eyes.

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11 comments
Tennvolgirl Tdb
Tennvolgirl Tdb

I think I love you! Great article. Guess who's going book shopping...

jeeprich
jeeprich

Nikki Six's "Heroin Diaries" was pretty awesome. Too commercial? Or is Motley Crue not metal enough?

Mark Koster
Mark Koster

pass.....rather read bathroom graffiti !

andyair
andyair

Where is "Murder In The Front Row" ??????

theoldgodsreturn
theoldgodsreturn

This is an interesting list with some writers (Christie, Moynihan & Soderlind) much stronger than their peers. Martin Popoff's absence is a head-scratcher, as his catalog on the genre is well worth exploring.

laurenwise
laurenwise

@Tara Widner Thank you! I hope you enjoy the reads!

laurenwise
laurenwise

@jeeprich personally for me, it is a little too commercial. But I know several metalheads who love that book!

theoldgodsreturn
theoldgodsreturn

@Dan_Moore@theoldgodsreturn"The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time" & "Heavy Metal" are good starters for Mr. Popoff. His artist-oriented books highligth trailblazers from Judas Priest to Metallica, with the better titles being "Black Sabath: Doom Let Loose" & "Blue Oyster Cult: Secrets Revealed". He's written collectors guides and books on album cover artwork, even backstage passes. Happy Hunting!

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