Hellraisers by Axl Rosenberg, Chris Kovatin

Hellraisers by Axl Rosenberg, Chris KovatinHellraisers: A Complete Visual History of Heavy Metal Mayhem by Axl Rosenberg, Chris Krovatin
Published by Race Point Publishing on October 24th 2017
Genres: History, Music
Pages: 288
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley

A pair of metalheads well versed in everything from Anthrax to Zeppelin take you through the metal halls of history in Hellraisers. Time to crank the volume and throw the horns!

Take a journey through the history of metal music from its earliest roots with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to its popular modern incarnations like experimental black metal, stoner doom, and djent. Get incredible looks at modern prog metal musicians tearing up the fret board, or remember some of your favorite, old 38s from years gone by. Everything from AC/DC and Anthrax to Meshuggah and Mastodon is on display in this superfan's-eye-view exploration of metal’s most innovative and hardcore sounds that can be heard around the world.

Co-authored by Axl Rosenberg and Chris Krovatin of the hugely popular blog metalsucks.com, this is a visually dynamic history, complete with exclusive band interviews, over 200 full color photos, genre-by-genre playlists, and plenty more to keep you throwing horns all night long.

The Heavy Metal genre of music is quite a broad church, and trying to capture even the current state of the industry, let alone the origins of it is an ambitious task the authors have set themselves. You may well argue that they have taken some missteps along the way, and not everyone is going to agree with their categorisation of various bands under the umbrella term “heavy metal”, but I think they have done a sterling job at hitting the right notes along the way. This book is obviously written by people who are passionate about the topic, and their knowledge and appreciation of the music and bands really shines through.

As a fan of the genre, or probably more accurately, certain sub-genres of heavy metal, I found that the authors did an excellent job of hitting the key points of each phase in the development of the music. The book starts off as a history lesson of the birth of rock and roll, and wends its way through the history of hard rock, and how it developed into heavy metal. The latter half of the book is given over to the various sub-genres of metal, although inevitably I am sure it misses some of the more obscure. Some of the more entertaining parts were the descriptions of the starter kits required, which often described in painfully-accurate detail the fans of the period or sub-genre. For those readers looking for an introduction into a particular era or there are helpful lists of artists and songs suggested at the end of each chapter.

This is a book that you can easily drop in and out of, pick and choose what interests you or want to learn more about. Frank Zappa is often quoted as saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and in some ways this book is trying to fill a number of spaces. It is part history, part encyclopedia, and part love letter to a genre of music which is often derided, and its fans mistreated or misunderstood.

Hellraisers is an attempt at writing a reasonably comprehensive history of Heavy Metal, and in that aim, I believe it has succeeded. As a fan of metal, I found myself nodding along to a lot of the descriptions, as this book is clearly written by authors who “get it” which I find is rare.

This is a very entertaining read, although not for everyone, and the latter third might well carry a warning of disturbing material, but that comes with the territory.

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Rating Report
Overall: four-stars

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