Black Sabbath: An Oral History
by Mike Start and Dave Marsh
128 pages. Harper Perennial. $
A reasonable account of the early days of metal and its slow descent out of the hippie and biker positive hedonism of the day into a new and darker persona. Extensive material on Sabbath personalities and attitudes regarding the creation and presentation of their music.
Metalheads: Heavy Metal Music and Adolescent Alienation
by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
208 pages. Westview Press. $34
A sociological study of 100 metalheads including profiles and brief analytical pieces on various aspects of relatively mainstream metal culture. Reasonable and deliberately overindulgently just, this work attempts to find a parent’s view of why children who hate society, religion, and conformity turn to metal.
Rocking the Classics : English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture
by Edward L. Macan
320 pages. Oxford University Press. $33
Delving into the world of progressive rock in a context of cultural development through history, this book explores the motivations and musicology of progressive rock with a broad but well targetted research base.
Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture
by Deena Weinstein
368 pages. Da Capo Press. $14
A broadly inclusive view at the public perception of heavy metal and its fans which, although limited to mainstream music, captures the unstable origins of modern metal, this book provides a solid foundation for Weinstein’s comments on metal.
Are You Morbid?
by Tom G. Warrior
360 pages. Sanctuary Publishing. $
Although somewhat scattered in focus due to its intense immersion in the personality of the writer and the human emotions of its band, this book establishes the intent of Celtic Frost and its predecessor, Hellhammer, and explains the philosophies of unified concept and music as a presentation of the ideology and desires of an artist (stranded in a mortal body). While conversational in text and often tedious, this retelling answers many fundamental Hessian questions.
20th Century Rock N Roll: Heavy Metal
by Martin Popoff
192 pages. Collectors Guide Publishing Inc. $
A somewhat distanced view of metal as rock music, this book brushes over many of metal’s strengths en route to a discussion of its commonality with popular music.
Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology
by Deena Weinstein
331 pages. Lexington Books. $
A reasonable summary of most academic study so far, which indulges heavy metal as an extreme offshoot of rock in which rebellion is the prime goal and the fundamental ceremony is the concert. These failings aside, there is very perceptive research here on the origins of heavy metal and the personalities within its culture. The latter is most informative of all aspects in this book and is Weinstein’s strength as a writer.
The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal
by Martin Popoff
544 pages. Collectors Guide Publishing Inc. $
Short reviews talking about the emotions and social significance of heavy metal bands are Popoff’s strength, and he through a fragmented view into hundreds of bands reveals a culture in transition. Including a reasonable small selection of underground metal.
Goldmine’s Heavy Metal Price Guide
by Martin Popoff
368 pages. Krause Publications. $
For those who want to enter the intricate world of collecting, an experienced metal journalist outlines the significance and comparative value of classic metal releases of interest to collectors.
(Seville Pictures, 2008, 90 Mins, $10)
Anthropologist Sam Dunn takes to the air to visit different parts of the world where heavy metal is booming. In doing so, he acknowledges the transition the genre has made from being a developing movement in the west, to a genre which has reached an end to its maturation and now is another voice into which others project. Indeed, as he visits anti-religious metalheads, religious metalheads, anti-Zionist metalheads and Zionist metalheads, teen rebels and people looking for a voice for their ancestral cultures that can compete with the booming sound of the West, Dunn discovers a change in metal. No longer is it being absorbed by a global audience, but changed by a global audience. He does this through a winding narrative featuring many shots of the director, often using his bemused poker face to poke innocently where trouble might lie. Knowing that interviews alone make a boring documentary, he intersperses them with tour de force cinematography that shows us the vastness and beauty of these different places, and music videos mostly featuring concert shots from each location. The intelligent choice here is to avoid “norming” places by emphasizing the we’re-all-the-same message. Dunn lets his camera and his subjects do the talking, although his frequent voice-over covers the boilerplate dogma we’re accustomed to hearing: metal is about self-expression, freedom, free speech, being an individual, and so on. But as time goes on, we see how metal is about being in a group that accepts the individual’s desire for rage and figuring things out themselves. Dunn’s final narrative affirms this: metal is a worldwide subculture to which people belong more than the politics of their nations. It is as if through his eyes, metal is a shout of rage at the modern world which has assimilated culture in its manic desire for power and commerce, and the insurgent forces of Hessians worldwide are reclaiming culture by first distancing themselves from it. For the person who is rightfully as cynical of the nitwit pretensions of individuals as of the face of state power, many of the people interviewed come across as surface treatments, and this is a general criticism of Dunn’s films we have all heard before. In the name of making them accessible, he pushes back the anthropology in favor of reveling in the power of the movement itself. For now, that’s not half bad.