By Bob Nalbandian

Sound Of The Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal
Author: Ian Christe (Harper Entertainment 2003)

This book is heralded (by the publisher, of course) as the "definitive history of Heavy Metal." Admittedly, the book is quite definitive and descriptive (and very nicely packaged with a hard cover and a few color, glossy pictures) but it is no way "historic," unless they were referring to the fact that it reads like a tedious history textbook. At times, when reading through certain chapters, it brought me back to my school daze when I had to literally force myself to read. Dry, sterile, and unentertaining. Although, at times, informative and detailed, as it includes many aspects and genres of metal music, there is nothing captivating or compelling about this read. And the author's insight and opinions on heavy metal seem questionable and many times preposterous. I will commend Christe for his in-depth and vital accounts in chapters like the NWOBHM and thrash metal, but he insists on including pointless columns, or discographies, which would have better been left out of the book.

Here's a few prime examples of Christe's questionable knowledge on heavy metal...In the NWOBHM discography he lists 14 albums, one of which is AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." There's no disputing that album influenced and in many ways inspired the NWOBHM, but to regard AC/DC as a NWOBHM artist is just flat out wrong (that goes for Judas Priest as well, who he also lists in that column, who are very much from the "old wave" of British metal.) In the category, "Early American Metal" he lists Lita Ford's "Out For Blood" (?!) and the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums, which feature an all-British ensemble apart from guitarist Randy Rhoads. Christe states the fact that Ozzy "ushered out other American hard groups like Aerosmith and Heart in the early '80s" - but does that constitute Ozzy's Blizzard of Ozz as an early American metal band? I think not! He does, on the other hand, include groundbreaking American metal releases like Riot's "Fire Down Under," Van Halen's debut, Twisted Sister's "Under the Blade," and Y&T's "Earthshaker". But when I think "early American metal," I think early '70s, not '80s. Your average metal fan can list better groundbreaking American metal albums than that! Why does Christe not list the debut Montrose album, Aerosmith's "Rocks," or BTO's "Not Fragile"? Or even earlier releases from groundbreaking American bands like MC5, Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Grand Funk, or Blue Cheer? Then, to make matters worse, Christe goes on to list columns of hard-core rap and punk. And they refer to this book as the definitive book on heavy metal? Pleeeese!

My point being that this thoroughly outlines Christe's questionable approach on metal. Through reading the book, Christe, at times, comes off very knowledgeable and it's evident that he is well educated on certain aspects of metal, its more or less his opinions and motives that leave me baffled. Rather than referring to his statements or comments as "his opinions" (which they rightfully are, and don't even come close to resemble the opinions of the metal buying public) he ever so boldly claims to be the "voice of metal" - which, as far as I'm concerned, is like saying Don Dokken is the voice of metal. This is greatly apparent in the Appendix's. Appendix A consists of "The Best 25 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time" (mind you, not labeled what he considers the best, but simply put "the best"). Included are albums from Carcass, Destruction, Dream Death, Emperor, Holy Terror, Immortal, Morbid Angel, and Napalm Death (amongst many questionable others.) I don't know any metal fan who would list any of the aforementioned bands in their top 100, let alone 25. In the book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums OF All Time (read review below) in which Martin Popoff polled thousands of metal fans and artists, barely any of these artists were ranked in the top 500! And as far as I'm concerned, Martin's voice is much more appealing than the voice of Christe...or Don Dokken!

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