There are many words of wisdom born from the soul of Michael Alago that he has shared in his memoir. Most know him as the music industry legend that signed Metallica to Electra Records and helped guide them on the path to being the biggest band of all time. The Drew Stone documentary Who The F*ck Is That Guy: The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago(now on Netflix and Amazon) shined a light on him that he deserved for decades. But there is so much more to his story, to the person than bands he signed, and who whom he rubbed shoulders with. The film was a terrific introduction to his life and times and why he deserves the credit he does. The book slowly peels back the years, all the wonderful and terrible things that life can bring and all the in-betweens. A lot of formative times with his family growing up in Brooklyn, dear friends, loves and losses. A terrific tapestry of experiences, stories, and reminiscences. There are many standout movements, including instances of Michael being surrounded the greats of the music and art world; Jerry Brandt, Bill Graham, Danny Fields, Bob Krasnow, Robert Mapplethorpe and many more. It’s cool enough to have met those people, but what really matters is listening and learning from greatness when it comes across your path. He did just that. Continue reading →
I wish I could say I knew Jonny Zazula back in the day, but I wasn’t quite old enough. Sure, I had heard all the stories. As a major Metallica and Anthrax fan, Jon and his wife Marsha’s life stories are Metal history as much as any riff, album or chorus. I bumped into Jon about twelve years ago at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. I was there to see a Testament headline show. Jon and Eddie Trunk, who owes his career to Jon and Marsha to an extent, walked right by and I totally fanboyed out. I’m pretty sure I blurted out something lame like “Holy shit, Jonny Z! Thanks for everything!”, since that what was in my heart. He gave me like a half-pat on the arm, half a “hey dude I need to get by you” move and slipped past me on his way backstage. Trunk just smiled. That was my in-person brush with him, until a recent phone interview (coming soon) for this book release. The book is a memoir about an enterprising music lover who put a genre or two on his back and raised up everyone around him toward greatness.
With the Progressive and Tech Metal climate being so crowded and, at times, stagnant, any new breed of band has the unenviable task of trying to stand out from the hordes by bringing in any resemblance of freshness or innovation. Whilst there is undoubtedly an abundance of quality talents out there, all too often acts fail to leave much of an impression in comparison to many of their peers. Continue reading →
These words are not just the battle cry of every heavy music fan or the chorus of a song from a band famous for body oil and loin cloths. These are the final words in Brian Slagel and Mark Eglinton’s For The Sake Of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records. The book not only serves as a way to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Metal Blade, but it serves as a partial memoir and life in metal of label founder and CEO, music historian, hockey fan, and all around great guy Slagel. To say metal and rock fans owe him an unpayable debt would be a gross understatement.Continue reading →
If you’re a fan of metal music, there’s a big chance you’re also a fan of all things horror. Just released from 3 Wolves is the motion comic version of the Realm of the Damned comic book series, and it’s a Black Metal delight. Written by Alec Worley, who’s done a huge amount of work with UK publisher 2000 A.D.,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon, and Star Wars. With artist, colorist, and letterer, Pye Parr they created a tale worthy of a metalheads’ time. Continue reading →
If you know me at all, you know that Metallica is my favorite band of all time, and you know that James Hetfield is one of the biggest inspirations in my life. It’s been that way ever since I first heard Master Of Puppets in the hallways of my middle school, and the love for this band is still as strong today. When I heard that Mark Eglinton was working on the first and only biography of James Hetfield, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ve followed Hetfield’s career more than most, and any chance I have to learn more is a welcomed opportunity. While this book did not tell me anything that I didn’t already know, because I’m as die-hard at they come, it’s still a brilliant look into one of heavy metal’s most important icons. Continue reading →
If you are a fan of Slayer, and picked up their 2015 album Repentless (Nuclear Blast, then you might be aware of the three music videos/ short films directed by BJ Mcdonnell; ‘Replentless, ‘You Against You’ and ‘Pride in Prejudice’ from the album. Now serialized in a three issue series is coming out monthly from Dark Horse Comics, Slayer- Repentless the comic is written by Jonathan Schnepp (Metalocalypse: Dethklok, Collider on YouTube), drawn by Guiu Villanova (The Twilight Zone, 100 Bullets, Dark Shadows, Weird Detective), lettered by Nate Piekos (Darkhorse Presents, Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four, Green Arrow, Weird Detective) and colored by Maurico Wallace (Weird Detective, Magnus: Robot Fighter, Turok).Continue reading →
Chances are your first memory of a band after you’ve heard the music for the first time was through a photo. There was a time before YouTube videos, massive concert tours, and ubiquitous festivals that the only way you ever saw a band was in a magazine. Now that technology has made it possible for everyone with an iPhone or a decent DSLR camera to think they are a concert photographer, everyone and their mom is trying to shoot and cover bands. However, there is more to pictures of bands than aiming a device in the general direction of the stage; there is an art to capturing the essence of people, on film, or now digitally.
When a long running musical act hits a typical milestone anniversary, usually there is some commemorative action taken by the band’s label. This often happens coarsely, just to move products and remind fans that the fossil of the band they once loved is still around. However, when it came to honoring 25 years of the band Opeth, the members took it upon themselves to create a several year-long celebration with years of planning for special concert events, album releases and re-issues, most importantly, their own biography. Not a book in the self-serving, “pat on the back”: type affair one often sees, but a personally crafted history of how the band came to be, from the earliest childhood days, right through 2014’s Pale Communion (Roadrunner) record. The story of Opeth as collected in Book Of Opeth (Rocket 88 Books) is wide-ranging, told by the people directly involved, and is a time capsule in the life of these crucial musicians.
Told in the first person by the people who lived the story of the band, the most common voice is that of Mikael Åkerfeldt, and his trademark story-telling style, and humor from his lyrics makes him a naturally narrator for this accounting. Other prominent voices in the story are band co-founder Peter Lindgren, and band manager Andy Farrow, as well as every member of the band presently and many former members and peers helping to flesh out key points and highlights. All of the interviews were done by music journalist Dom Lawson, and as a read it feels very detailed and matter of fact. Stories of every album, every step in their career were mentioned with seemingly no nugget of info left to be unearthed. Of course there is tons of self-effacing humor, many digs and puns for a health dose of self-awareness. This is often lacking with most books like this.
The main version of the book also comes with a 7-inch vinyl with two rare tracks; previously unreleased acoustic versions of ‘Atonement’ and ‘Demon of the Fall’. The real treasure of Book of Opeth is the photography. Thousands of photos, many never seen outside of the band were compiled to tell the visual story. Some of these photos of the formative years of the band in particular will blow your mind if you have followed the band for their career. Incredible concert photos and intimate studio shots by friends of the band dot the pages too. Another really great element of the book is the extensive credits section of the book with a complete discography of every physical and digital release ever made by the band. This is a collectors dream pirate map and I wish this were available for all bands of this magnitude.
Although really geared for the collector and the hardcore fan of the band, Book of Opeth is not just made with the completest in mind. This is a great accounting of one of the more legendary bands of our time. Even if you are in the camp of not loving the more recent move to straight up progressive rock as much as their earlier albums, this window into the first days of the band is more than worth the price of the gorgeous packaging.
The Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal(Dark Star) is a thorough listing of most, if not all, of the bands to have been born in the land down under. This is the third revised edition of the encyclopedia lovingly compiled by long time fan Brian Giffin. In his opening he shows the reader just how many people and how much work goes into creating a book of this depth and length. The worldliness of metal is also emphasized. It is clear that Giffin takes Australia’s role on that world stage very serious.
Giffin’s desire to highlight Australia’s presence in global metal is not misplaced. The only Australian band most average music listeners can name is AC/DC. Even then, many mistakenly believe they are from the United Kingdom. Interestingly the encyclopedia seems to confirm that AC/DC are the biggest band to come out of the country. The entry on them is one of the longest in the entire book. One third of the book based resources in the References section are solely written about them. While it is good to acknowledge this part of Australia’s history it also makes the reader wince since the goal of this encyclopedia is to introduce people to all the country’s metal offerings.
This encyclopedia is one of the most in-depth there is out there when it comes to sheer length and number of bands mentioned. Although this is a testament to Giffin’s thoroughness and love for Australian metal it can present itself as a setback. Many of the mentioned acts only have a single sentence to describe them. A good chunk of others read like a “Where Are They Now?” article since there is so much overlap with band members and the formation of new bands out of defunct ones. This is where one wonders if being a completest has been given favor over accessibility. The book may have been more clear and engaging if important bands in certain sub-genres were highlighted and defunct ones were mentioned in the biographies of newly formed bands where appropriate. In defense of the smaller bands being included, there are some interesting entries one may not have heard of otherwise. One such case is the description of Circadian which reads, “Circadian is an enviro-centric one-man doom band…” It makes the reader wonder just how specific one can get with their music approach.
While the encyclopedia is a great example of how passionate metal fans are, it is likely not something casual listeners will be interested in. It is easy for the entries to seem never-ending as the whole work could use more visuals. The wiki version that Giffin mentions in the opening is better for those who just want to look into a few bands from this part of the world. Credit must be given to the man for opening readers’ eyes to just how much music there is to be discovered; especially considering all 342 pages of the encyclopedia is just on metal.