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Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (February 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380811278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380811274
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few books on heavy metal music can compare to Christe's thoughtful and passionate history of the music of the beast. There is little argument that heavy metal began in earnest with Black Sabbath (though the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" is considered by some to be the first heavy metal song), and Christe holds to convention and begins his metal timeline in early 1970. Following in the jamming, bluesy tradition of the Yard Birds and Cream, Sabbath (then called Earth) wrote "Black Sabbath"-a song that changed not only the band's name, but the face of rock and roll. Black Sabbath set the pace, but bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple "fleshed out the edges and gave it sex appeal." The next wave, the new wave of British heavy metal, saw the emergence of Motorhead, Saxon and Iron Maiden among many others. The movement then spread through America and found most bands cropping up out of L.A. (although many migrated from the Midwest). Van Halen, Ratt and Motley Crue grew out of the then underground club scene. Christe doesn't get bogged down in anecdotes about bands and their groupies, but instead documents the music and its different genres. Each chapter contains helpful "genre boxes" giving a brief description of the style (e.g., Power Metal, Death Metal and Nu Metal). If Christe is to be faulted, it is on the grounds of hero worship: he's a metal fan, scribe (a music writer living in Brooklyn) and practitioner (in a digital metal band called Black Noerd), and readers might wish for more critical analysis about the culture of fans. But this is a minor point in a book otherwise worthy of having its dog-eared and beer-stained pages passed among friends and placed in motel-room bedside drawers. 94 b&w photos, and 16-page color insert not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-MTV's Headbanger's Ball, which debuted in 1987, was canceled in 1995-metal was officially "over." But it has returned to the schedule, and metal is making a comeback. In Christe's exhaustive history, readers watch metal rise, fall, change, and splinter into a massive number of genres (death metal, black metal, thrash metal, and more). As in David Konow's Bang Your Head (Three Rivers, 2002), the story begins with Black Sabbath (as if there would be any other choice); but while Konow kept to the well known, Christe gives just as much attention to the fringes. Also unlike Konow, he eschews gossip for almost scholarly explanations of the musicians' creative process and their works. Through it all, he shows the impact of competing forces (like punk, grunge, and rap). Chapters are arranged chronologically but also by genre, and each one is packed with black-and-white photographs and "genre boxes" that list the definitive recordings, ending with the author's choice for the 25 best metal albums of all time. The book is well indexed. New metal fans will run to the music store not only because of the knowledge gained from this volume, but also because of the enthusiastic (though sometimes a little overwrought) way the author shares it.
Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ian Christe is the author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal and Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. He was raised in the heavy metal hotbeds of New York, Germany, Switzerland, New Mexico, and Indiana.

He has been heard aloud since 2004 on Sirius XM's weekly heavy metal history show Bloody Roots, and he has appeared in numerous documentaries relating to hard rock and heavy metal.

He is also the publisher behind Bazillion Points Books, home to books for voracious readers including Murder in the Front Row, Touch and Go, Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries, Swedish Death Metal, Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie, Once Upon a Nightwish, Hellbent for Cooking, Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC, and other deep music-related books and DVDs. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Customer Reviews

As good and as important as they are, this is meant to be a history of HEAVY METAL, not Metallica.
Stephen E. Andrews
Christe also focuses on Metallica way too much and goes into many more personal things that they did as individuals than any other band mentioned except maybe Sabbath.
John Sullivan
This book is ok as a general read, and has some interesting information, but it makes too many mistakes and spends too much time on a few US bands.
Hellhammer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mcdonough on May 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having read quite a few music histories and biographies, the one thing that really stands out about Ian Christe's book is the writing; in a word, superb! Many of the reviews of this book that I've read miss this and gripe, simply because their favorite bands did not get enough coverage. Sure I could complain that Black Flag or the Obsessed or Corrosion of Conformity doesn't get enough coverage, but that wouldn't change the fact that Metallica is simply the most important band in metal. Doesn't mean they are the best, but they, more than any other band, are responsible for metal being as popular as it is today. Christe nails it on the head that heavy metal really started with Sabbath (I like Zeppelin, the Who and Hendrix too, but they were rock bands and spawned an entirely different generation of music). EVERY metal band around owes a debt to Sabbath (for the heaviness, the look, and the orchestration). In addition, he does an excellent job of covering the whole metal scene and a brilliant job in breaking down the genre by sub-genre. The fact that bands such as the Accused, Die Kreuzen and Exodus are mentioned is awesome and the depth and breadth of metal knowledge that Christe has accumulated over the years is impressive. If you are interested in the hard rock-punk evolution, read Rock and the Pop Narcotic (Joe Carducci). For metal, this is the book. Hats off to you Ian! Great book!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Miss Banger on April 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having heard that there was an author out there attempting to summarize the past 33 years of metal in a single volume, I was shocked and awed at the superb quality of the outcome. Christe begins with Black Sabbath I and quickly moves forward with his battle plan -- almost nothing escapes his field of vision along the way. The pop culture moments -- like Van Halen's arrival on the scene, MTV's discovery of metal, Crue's Shout at the Devil, and Metallica's big crossover in the 90s -- float like beacons above a morass of fascinating detail on bands like Celtic Frost, Napalm Death, Sepultura, and the creepy crawlers of Norway. Nobody has done better at depicting the difference between Stryper and Deicide, two bands at the opposite poles of planet metal. If your idea of heavy metal is Guns N Roses, you will enjoy this book immensely -- if you swear by Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth, Sound of the Beast will outright be your Bible, read and re-read until its pages are tattered and torn.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was quickly hooked on this wide-ranging history of the origins of metal music. Expect late nights, factoids you never would have guessed, and background on worthy bands you never knew existed. All that's missing is a sampler CD! When you have read it, you will be much more aware of metal's place in the music business AND you will have a list of new and old bands to seek out. More and more headbangin' music!! What's not to like!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By AliGhaemi on June 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Sound Of The Beast is an impressive book. Wisely aligning itself, title-wise, with the quintessential heavy metal album of all time, Iron Maiden's Number Of The Beast, Ian Christe's take on thirty-odd years of metal high art accomplishes a lot.
Sound Of The Beast successfully covers the basics and many of the sub-genres of metal. It incorporates literate, yet fluid, writing with a plethora of facts, trivia and lists to make for a compelling read for metal fans old and new. Simultaneously, Christe tackles - albeit superficially given space considerations - the musical movement from several tangents. In this manner, he introduces both a diversion to the purely chronological take on the music and injects something of a discourse into the book. As with most claims, the author's assertion of a 'completeness' to his book is false, but that is par for the course, one supposes. After all, and realistically, no one body of work will ever completely cover 30-plus years of musical and cultural history.
Having said that, the book does stumble more than it needs to. The inordinate amount of space granted Metallica only serves to demonstrate the author's devotion to this band. Otherwise if ever there was a band which had betrayed the ideals of the book's subject-matter, that band would be the aforementioned California metallers-gone-corporate minion. Sound Of... also has its share of mistakes (Metallica fact on page 88, calling AC/DC NWOBHM, etc.), irrelevant features (discussion on non-metal music like punk, mallcore, etc.) and obligatory self-referencing conflict-of-interest (mentioning past and current employers of the author without disclosure).
Be that as it may, Christe has done as good, if not better, a job as any of his peers.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Pedro Delgado on May 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read Ian Christe's book after seeing him last week on VH1's "Heavy: A History of Metal". I immediately went to my local library to check out the book, since I am a big fan of rock histories. I found Christe's tome a very easy read. I would definitely recommended to anyone interested in the history of heavy metal, but I would first point out the following flaws.

1). The early history of heavy metal is barely covered. Death Metal and Norwegian Black Metal receive more text than the beginnings of metal in the hard rock of the 60's and 70's. I would have like to have seen this first section extended a bit more, to see the progession from Sabbath to NWOBHM. Surely, metal did not form in a void. Even though there is no denying that Sabbath was the originator of the genre, and that NWOBHM helped progress it along, there are many other important bands from the hard rock scene that were left out.

2) As others have pointed it out already, this book does tend to read as a Metallica biography at times. Granted, Metallica is one of the most important metal bands of the last 20 years, wether one likes them or not. Certainly, one would expect them to be mentioned more than once. However, at times it does seem like the metal world revolves around them, according to Mr. Christe.

3) I think the author gives waaaaay too much credit to Death Metal. I am a fan of metal, but I personally find the death metal subgenre to be the most unimaginative, formulaic, cartoonish, and overbloated type of music (not just metal... but of music in general). Mr. Christe presents talentless noise-merchants like Deicide and Cannibal Corpse as musical protigies and innovators. At one point, I believe he compares them to 60's free-jazz musicians. Give me a break!
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