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.
The Encyclopaedia is available now via