Extreme Metal - by Joel McIver
Omnibus Press - 2000
Books about metal are and have always been strange beasts. For the most part, they tend to consist of biographies and road diaries of bands either long-since past their sell-by date, are those currently riding the profitable wave of media attention, consisting of anecdotal tales which everyone has already heard before in the rumour columns of their favourite heavy music magazine.
Then, of course, there's the intellectual efforts - those that attempt to analyse a genre or style, and get into anal, mind-numbingly boring detail which leaves all but the most ardent muso considering re-reading that Garfield cartoon strip in the paper.
Joel McIver's 'Extreme Metal' is different, however. Although an arbitrary and obligatory attempt to trace the origins and pin down the typical elements of extreme metal is made at the start of the book, what it mainly consists of is an encyclopeadia of the most important extreme metal bands, past and present, right up to the publishing date. On the whole, it's a well-researched, interesting and occasionally revealing and humourous look at the existence and works of over 250 bands.
It's something of a novelty, certainly, but for anyone who is into extreme metal, it's perfect for finding out about bands you're interested in or discovering new bands. Although occasionally Joel lets his ignorance of certain bands slip (Bal Sagoth deal in 'slow, sludgy riffs' do they?), on the whole it's a perfectly accurate read.