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
“Heavy Metal Will Never Die!”
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.