Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal
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Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,463 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The definitive history of the first 30 years of heavy metal, containing over 100 interviews with members of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, Slipknot, Kiss, Megadeth, Public Enemy, Napalm Death, and more.

More than 30 years after Black Sabbath released the first complete heavy metal album, its founder, Ozzy Osbourne, is the star of The Osbournes, TV's...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by It Books (first published 2003)
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2666 by Roberto BolañoA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonThe Road by Cormac McCarthySound of the Beast by Ian ChristeThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
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4th out of 16 books — 13 voters
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Best Non Fiction About Music
236th out of 757 books — 610 voters


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Community Reviews

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jack
do you like heavy metal? good for you. do you love it? then read this book. it breaks down every aspect and genre of metal in fascinating and fact backed detail. there are charts!

my only criticism with this book is that it starts the history of heavy metal right at the birth of black sabbath. and while i agree that sabbath is the great grandaddy of all us bangers and rightly deserve our worship i gotta point out that the zep and deep purple had a hand in it, too. and way waaaay waaaaaaaaaaaay b...more
Leah
A great read for anyone with a passion for the music or who's chewed through the numerous rock star autobiographies on the market. Motley Crue's "The Dirt," for example, is a compelling story about one band's experience of what it was to ride the wave of metal stardom in the 1980s. While both books are focused on heavy metal, Ian Christie's functions at the macro level, examining heavy metal as a cultural force that grew out of and into something that goes beyond the sound. Commencing with Black...more
Carl
The Sound of the Beast will seriously school you on the world of metal. Offering a very clear progression of metal as we know it from Black Sabbath to Dillinger Escape Plan, this book reads like a long version of the type of magazine article that makes you stay seated in the bathroom until you finish, reading. The writing is entertaining without degenerating into mind-numbing aural description and Christe rarely uses the same hyphenated adjective twice. Taken as an exhaustive overview of all thi...more
Patrick
description

Metal has been growing for a couple decades now and how built up quite a following of dedicated metalheads and crazy headbangers. Many will tell you that it all started with Black Sabbath who is often considered to be the first ever heavy metal band. The genre eventually evolved from the Sab Four to a variety of subgenres, making metal one of the most diverse genres of music and this book covers (most of) it all. From the Bay Area thrash metal scene to the church-burning Norwegian black metaller...more
Bryce
Apr 18, 2007 Bryce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: appreciators of music
This is an excellent and much needed scholarly effort that skillfully weaves a comprehensive history of the vastly erratic, eclectic, and woefully underappreciated genre of Heavy Metal. There is a LOT more to the story than Metallica and 80's Glam Rock (despite what VH-1 tells you); Sound of the Beast is a useful resource for anyone interested in going beyond the shallow depths of the industry spiel.
Chris
I remember this being jaw-dropping when I first read it. Most people talk about how irritating it is that Metallica get so much attention, but what he's doing makes sense - you need a control group to calibrate all the rest of the machines. Plus, those first three Metallica albums fucking KILL. Great pics, great anecdotes...I could stand to read this again.
Cameron O'neil
Apr 09, 2008 Cameron O'neil rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Metal Fans, and anyone who would like to know more about the music and culture.
Recommended to Cameron by: I found it in the Library at my school
this is one of thoes Rare Gems of literature, that actually captures the essence of what Metal is actually about.
I highly recomend this book to people who are already Metalheads, and people who want to learn more about the history of the genre. you may be supprised to know that there is much, MUCH more to this music than you think.
Lee Vickers
Sep 24, 2007 Lee Vickers rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heavy Metal fans
Shelves: music
After being a metal fan for my entire life, I thought that I knew everything that I needed to know about the most misunderstood music genre. Then I read this, an amazingly in depth of the whole genre from thrash, to glam to black metal, this is a witty and brilliantly written that took some serious time to digest.
Jeff
A thorough evaluation of the rise and fall and resurgence of Heavy Metal. All the highs, all the lows, all the unbelievable anecdotes in between. Two massive devil horns raised high.
TBV
I actually give this work two and a half stars. For me, it was a notch above "ok." The reason for my rating is as follows: The book suffers from several major flaws.
1) It sometimes reads like the Book of Numbers from the Bible (try reading the Book of Numbers and you'll see what I mean). Too much detail in too little space with too many names of people and bands.
2) It lacks organization. Ian Christe attempts to take on way too much in too few pages. The outcome ends up being something like paint...more
Peejo
Oct 25, 2007 Peejo rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: metallica
Well. What to say. I really didn't know ass from elbow when it came to metal before I read this book. Look at the rating before you get too excited.

This book has three strong points:

It covers the entire history of metal and devotes equal attention to all the offshoots, even giving ICP a spot.
It's full of top ten lists of albums, artists, etc. that are essential to certain aspects and parts of metal's history.
Most of the art for the chapter/list headings is pretty dope.

This book has one weakness...more
Matthew
Feb 29, 2008 Matthew rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: diehard Metallica fans
Shelves: did-not-finish, muzak
Couldn't finish this one. It started off so well with the birth of heavy metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, the early years of speed metal and black metal... but suddenly it hastily degenerated into nothing more than a Metallica love-fest for the next 125 pages. I have nothing against Metallica, but they are not the be-all end-all of heavy metal.

If anything, the author has glossed over the importance of bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motörhead. I feel like this bo...more
Ashley
For my second time through this book, my feelings are pretty much the same as before. It feels like a series of long magazine articles, as the casual and exuberant writing style seems to reflect that more than the feel of a tightly written book.

One the downside, the coverage of Metallica is still extensive, but didn't bother me as much as the first time around, I guess because I've somewhat come to terms with the reality tat they were/are(?) a band that played an important role in the history o...more
Frances
Being a casual fan of a few metal bands but not very knowledgeable, I found this book a good overview of metal history. Since it's written in chronological order it hashed out in my mind when and where things happened, and in what context fairly well. On the downside you can tell it's written from a somewhat biased (er, passionate) point of view, and there's a hell of a lot about Metallica in here. I have nothing against Metallica but there are other bands people know less about, that could have...more
Shane
Not only is this a true gem that metalheads will enjoy reading once, they'll also find it a great reference further down the road. It's the history of the evolution of metal, decade by decade and subgenre by subgenre. Looking for a new band to check out? Whether recent or veteran, you'll find scores of suggestions. A must-have book for any fan of metal music.
Amanda
Okay, Ian Christe needs to realize that there are more Heavy Metal bands out there, other than Metallica. Simply graces over some of the most important bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, all of Death and Black Metal, Marilyn Manson, and any metal band popular in the late 90's. But could be a great biography for Metallica, just needs to change the name.
Dustin
Jan 06, 2009 Dustin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dustin by: Jennifer Reeder
Shelves: music
awesome, and it made me start digging deeper into my itunes library, too. well written, though Christe definitely glosses over some sub-genres in favor of his clear preferences, but even for that, its definitely a good read that looks at the development and evolution of heavy metal from the earliest days all the way up to the "present (2005 or so)."
Rebekah
There is nothing new that I read in this book. All the ideas are generic, cliché, biased, and Christe offered absolutely nothing to ponder. Also, if I have to read the words "Black" and "Sabbath" one more time.... arghghghalsdkf.
Eli
I think that this book doesn't miss a fact about how the genre metal began. it's timeline and details and pictures are amazing. It's my favorite book and f you like metal this book is for you.
Tiffany Newman
im a person who loves heavy metal. this book tells the history of metal has the time goes on it really great has awesome pictures of heavy metals bands though the times
Serge Pierro
An interesting look at the history of Heavy Metal. It covers all of the sub-genres, and the important bands contained within. The author uses Black Sabbath as the historic starting point, but doesn't give any "background influence" to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. The author also seems to have a fixation on Metallica, as they are mentioned more than anyone else in the book. (it could have been subtitled: "Metallica and the history of Heavy Metal") Stylistically, the author is unev...more
Jarrett
This is a fantastic account of the history of heavy metal from it's beginnings with Black Sabbath to around the year 2002-2003. For the time that is was written, I think that it more than captured not only the history of the metal genre as well as it's sub genres, but also put some interesting perspectives on metal during the 90's grunge era. This was the first time I have ever heard Metallica as the main influence of the shift of metal during the 90's rather than the perspective that Nirvana wa...more
Kristin
While I am sure it is a fantastic anthology of all things metal, I found myself skipping through this book. I was initially excited to learn about the roots of heavy metal, but found the writing to be extremely dull, which is unfortunate given the aggression and passion of the topic it focuses on. I was not around for the 70s or 80s metal hey-days, and the book didn't really make me feel like I missed anything at all. And when I finally got to the portion I really wanted to read about -- 90s met...more
Soham Chakraborty
Heavy metal.

For an ever-increasing number of people, it's more than a musical genre, it's more than the fist-pumps on stage, it is something that makes them who they are. It gives them a voice, a voice capable of expressing dissent and protest, a freedom to speak against atrocities and injustice in this world, an energy that will never be a doormat, an ever-thrusting energy and devotion will keep crushing all the hatred and censorship and proclamations and misinformation about it. Heavy metal is...more
Renato Maschetto de Sa
This is a great book but, as other readers may agree (for good or bad), it focus too much on Metallica, basically relating all the evolution in Metal to Ulrich and Hetfield. Not that I totally disagree or try to minimize their importance to the genre, but the author kind of builds his case around Metallica only (or mainly). Other bands had their importance, and he "fails" to explore that. There is very little space for Judas and Maiden. Yes, he mentions them all over the book, but bits and piece...more
Ryan Mishap
OK, the “Complete Head-banging History of Heavy Metal”. Don’t laugh! This book was next to a coffee-table book called Punk at the library. ¾ of “Punk” covered ’74 to ’79. I put it back after seeing the title of the last, shortest chapter: “’79 and later.” Ugh, punk died a long time ago….Christie takes this view of punk as well, gleefully describing punk’s demise while holding aloft the triumph of metal like a blood-stained battle axe over the tundra of musical history. I’m totally serious, the g...more
Jsavett1
I read this book on the heals of watching Vh1's series Metal Evolution. I'm saying this because though they are unrelated projects, there is a lot of repetition between the two works and one may want to choose one or the other depending upon one's medium preference.

That said, as a lifelong metal fan, I found tis to be a terrific read. All of the usual suspects are treated lovingly here most central being Sabbath, Maiden, and Metallica. Though I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading this, ONE criticism keep...more
Tim Ford
Ridiculous detail on the history of metal! It was really fun reading this book. Ian Christie is a walking encyclopedia of metal. I really like that he breaks down each genre and traces back the roots of where it all came from. I knew a lot of the history already, but I had several holes of knowledge filled by reading this.

He's also very respectful towards Metallica...in fact in the earlier part of the book Metallica are mentioned in nearly every chapter. Very cool, and somewhat rare. Usually aut...more
Bobby
Jan 09, 2012 Bobby rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
If you love metal then you will love this book. Christie does a great job weaving the history of a scattered movement into a cohesive narrative. I was pleased to find it even more nerdy with details than I had anticipated.

This book has been criticized for concentrating too much on Metallica. If you are still mad at the band because of their vehement anti-Napster stance in 2000 then you might not care for this book. However, anyone who lived through the 80s and loved metal in the 80s has to conc...more
Richard Burton
This is a very well informed, exciting read for any fan of hard rock and heavy metal music. I learned a lot and I've been a devoted fan for nearly 40 years. Highly recommended!
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Ian Christe is the author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal and Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. He is the publisher of Bazillion Points Books, home to Swedish Death Metal, Murder in the Front Row, Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries, Touch and Go, Experiencing Nirvana, Heavy Metal Movies and other authoritative books about powerful movements and moments...more
More about Ian Christe...
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“That's certainly the roots of heavy metal. That whole sense of revolution and wanting to be powerful is definetly a puberty thing. Fans don't have to be offended by that. Everybody goes through it. That's why heavy metal is so powerful.” 5 likes
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