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Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal
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Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,262 ratings  ·  143 reviews
The definitive oral history of heavy metal, Louder Than Hell includes hundreds of interviews with members of Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Korn, Pantera, Van Halen, Limp Bizkit, and many others at the leading edge of this movement.

Louder Than Hell is an examination of the cultural phenomenon of heavy metal, a much-maligned genre that has not only stood the test of time, but has
Hardcover, 736 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by It Books
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L. McCoy More on Linkin Park, Disturbed, Behemoth and Dying Fetus. I’m not even a huge fan of 2 of those bands but they seemed to be just barely mentioned even…moreMore on Linkin Park, Disturbed, Behemoth and Dying Fetus. I’m not even a huge fan of 2 of those bands but they seemed to be just barely mentioned even though they’re pretty big deals in the world of metal. As another user mentioned, power metal as a genre. Slightly surprised Five Finger Death Punch wasn’t anywhere.
Still a great book though!(less)

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Michael Jandrok
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m a sucker for oral histories, ever since I read “Please Kill Me.” Legs McNeil did a great job with that book, and it made perfect sense to recount the punk scene from the perspectives of the people who were living it as it happened. Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman attempt a similar feat with “Louder Than Hell,” subtitled as “The Definitive Oral History of Metal.” And it’s not bad at all, roughly covering the development and history of heavy metal from its infancy in the late ‘60s on to th ...more
Paul Gleason
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It’s hotter than Hell today, and you’re in dire need of a cold one. You step into your favorite metal club for a quick beer, but the place somehow seems different. The walls – which are usually adorned with neon signs advertising beer – now bear gigantic posters of the covers of some of the best metal albums of all time: Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Deep Purple’s Machine Head, Judas Priest’s British Steel, Motörhead’s Ace of Spades, AC/DC’s Back in Black, Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast, Meta ...more
L. McCoy
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super fast review:

So this book is very well written as it tells the history of metal through quotes from interviews and brief bits of storytelling. I also like how it covers everything from metalcore to death metal so there’s stuff for every metalhead. This book is interesting, has some laughs and a few life lessons here and there (especially about why you shouldn’t fuck around with drugs).
I had a few problems. There were a few bands that are a pretty big deal amongst the metal community that th
Stewart Tame
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting book. On the long side, but there's a lot of ground to cover after all. I definitely learned some things I'd never known before, and made some mental notes of a few bands I want to track down. For all its length, it seems a bit incomplete. Quite a few bands--GWAR, for instance--get mentioned in passing but no interviews with them are included. And what about progressive metal? Where's Dream Theater or Opeth? It would seem that, while this may be the definitive ORAL history of metal, ...more
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Louder than Hell purports to be the definitive oral history of heavy metal, and in style and format it does a decent job. Most of the book is stories told by various musicians, and most of those stories involve some combinations of sex, drugs, violence, or general lawlessness, Yep, sounds like metal.

The book is extraordinarily large and heavy (718 pages, 2lbs 5oz), but would be terrible as an e-book, because the glossy pictures are great (although they are sadly bunched together rather than int
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it

Metal was one of my first musical loves. Or more specifically my brother’s Metallica tapes. Then I grew up in age of exciting popular metal watching grunge wipe away hair metal(which I mostly hated…because well I had heard Metallica, except Van Halen…I loved Van Halen until David Lee Roth quit…oh and I guess Guns and Roses) and the bizarre era of Jane’s Addiction, Primus, Faith no More, Melvins,Helmet, NIN,Rage against the Machine, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains being popular bands. Then moving
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I love oral histories related to rock music and Louder Than Hell covers ground on a subject for almost 700 pages that I know very little about: heavy metal. I actually know a little bit on '70s metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and some about the awful "hair" metal phase but quiz me about thrash, death metal, black metal, grindcore, metalcore, speed metal or all the variations and I come up empty. Now I can talk about how wimpy the black metal scene in Norway is currently compared to th ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good book on metal, though I think the word "definitive" is a bit optimistic. While I know that the drug/alcohol use is inextricable from the metal scene, I think Wiederhorn focused entirely too much on the "I was so high/drunk/whatever..." stories. More focus on the music itself would have been nice. The last third of the book sort of dragged, but that's only because I have a particular hatred of nu metal, metalcore, and Slipknot. The chapters on early metal, thrash, NWOBHM, d ...more
Chris Lira
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
A pretty good history of metal, in the words of the musicians, label staff, and the occasional groupie :-) That being said, a section on progressive metal(Dream Theater, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Rush, etc.) was conspicuously absent.
Bastian Greshake Tzovaras
This book actually started pretty interesting and then went on to become quite boring. While the general interview-style worked fine in the beginning it became pretty boring pretty fast. This is in part because not all of the different metal styles are my cup of tea, but that would be acceptable if it wasn't for the endless repetition.

I mean: How often can you read about excessive drug use (with either people driving themselves to death or plain OD'ing), people starting some kind of violent rag
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
The oral history angle is this book's saving grace because without the amusing artist quotes it is really just an abridged, American-centric history of heavy metal, which is preposterous since the genre owes most of its vital developments to other countries. To give you an idea, beyond some lip service paid to formative influences like Blue Cheer, Hendrix, the MC5 and Mountain, heavy metal's subsequent rise through the 1970s zips from Black Sabbath to Judas Priest to Kiss (!) to AC/DC, with litt ...more
Dave Mason
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
i am a huge fan of this type of book where they tell the story of a "movement", "event" or "scene", via interviews with the people who were there. the pace is generally fast, there is very little room for filler, and if done right, you hear from a broad range of interesting characters.

as far as LTHTDOHM goes, if you love metal you'll love the book. it was my main soundtrack leading in to my teens and a big part of it through my 20's/30's. metal's impact on me was huge. now that im older and mar
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've read a number of books on metal, and this is probably one of the best. Not only does it shed a lot of light on how metal came to be, it spotlights how it's not going away any time soon. ...more
William Schram
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, music
I was born in 1986. When I was a child, I didn’t really listen to music all that much. I remember listening to the Radio sometimes, but mostly I would play video games. Milwaukee, WI is terrible when it comes to Radio. Most of the stations are generic and boring or outright copies of other stations. I really didn’t get into Metal Music until I was in college. Even then I mainly listened to a lot of streaming services which helped me to expand into other fields of music. I guess I was lucky that ...more
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love music biographies (about music I like, obviously), so this was a great present (thanks Sandra)!
It's a huge book, almost 700 pages of stuff, plus a bunch of glossy color photographs inserted a few places in the book - though the captions to the photos were BAD. And people say MY humor is bad!
Anyway, this book is just the way I like it; it's stories told by the band members themselves. It covers early metal, new wave of british heavy metal, thrash, metalcore, industrial (a surprising additi
Eric Kalenze
Aug 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
As someone who has metal in his veins (it was injected there when I was a pre-teen, so I can't help it), this was a great summer read.

That said, the last third of this very long oral history dragged a bit. The rockers' stories are really just...well, rockers' stories. As the sub-genres darken, though, so do the people and situations involved, and it just gets a little heavy/stomach-turning. (NOTE: I may have brought this on myself a bit, as I built Spotify 'soundtracks' to listen to alongside r
Fredrik Reinsborg
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was really excited about the scope and ambition of this book. To tell the story of metal through interviews is a big undertaking. Some chapters are really interesting, but for me the authors give to much attention to obscure genres of metal that I have no interest in. I also feel that more popular genres are overlooked. Maybe I am colored by being part of the european metal scene/culture, and this is an american book. But I think it is strange that they don't dedicate chapters to power metal a ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Almost bumped it down to a 4*, because, like "Please Kill Me," there are aspects of this that are kind of exhausting (we get it, bands have a lot of sex, we get it, Kerry King is a lame frat guy) but I'm not sure there's a better book out there about metal. Ultimately, it's not the fault of the book that most of these artists aren't role models, and that's not why I listen to metal anyway. More could have been included, sure, but it's already 700 pages long. Nice to see the bits about metalcore ...more
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020

It's a genre that's only bound together by a spirited fuck you. Its denizens run the gamut, from church-burning nihilists to hairspray-supported hedonists; from kvlt blackness to tits-out stupidity. From funereal dirges to brain-freezing speed runs. The sublime to the ridiculous. Speed to heroin. True to poser.

It's got it all. It just adds studs and unreadable logos.

LEMMY KILMISTER (Motörhead, ex-Hawkwind): Metal is the bastard son of rock and roll. If Eddie Cochran was playing today, he
Aurélien Thomas
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I had high expectations for this book, and, sadly, there were not met. Musicians are surely doing the talking in here. The thing is, once you remove all their anecdotes about the drugs they've been taking, the most memorable hangovers they ever had, the brawls they fought, the groupies they shagged, and other stupid behaviours that kept them entertained backstage, well, not much left. The music? Forget it.

Sure, from proto-hard rock all the way to metalcore you here fly across the metal landscape
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book purely for the fact of learning things I didn't know about some of the bands that I love listening to. I also enjoyed learning about all the subgenres there are now of metal and seeing where I fit into. I have always been a fan at heart no matter what I always seem to gravitate back towards it. It sucks you in. 🤘🤘🤘🤘 Like Jon Wiederhorn says.. The development of metal is like the evolution of a virus. Microscopic organisms replicate inside living cells, and to ensure t ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can't find much fault with this book. It's a massive collection of quotes, so the quality of the book mostly rests on the thematic and chronological organization of the material. I thought overlapping timelines of eras (and/or sub-genres of metal) was an excellent way to organize the main body of the book. Within each era, the authors found common threads within the quotes and wove them into as much of a narrative as you could hope for.

This is the sort of book you can read in a noisy room full
Brent Seabrook
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Far from definitive, this is a hodgepodge of quotes from other books and magazines. The authors devote chapters to Norwegian black metal and Tampa's death metal scene, but neglect New Orleans sludge and Seattle grunge. AC/DC gets plenty of space but other hard rock bands like Aerosmith, Rush, and even the Scorpions get none.

I would have preferred less about sex and drugs and more about rock and roll, though you could argue the two are inseparable. And though it rarely provides any answers, the b
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Delivers what the title promises - this really is definitive and at times piles on and on like an Iron Butterfly solo (whose name never came up, so maybe this really wasn't as definitive as I thought). For stories, anecdotes, and the history of the multifaceted offshoots of metal and hard rock, you can't beat this book. My only complaint was it seemed to spend too much time on the recent hardcore / death metal / black metal bands from the 90's to today (Mastodon, Hatebreed, Slipknot, Kickpuncher ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is s great book if you are true metal enthusiast. If you are just into music then this will probably be offensive in parts. As I read this over a couple weekends I felt like I was having a conversation at a bar with the contributors. Everyone is represented throughout the book, as far as metal goes. I found the last section about new American metal very interesting and eye opening. If you are interested in what makes these artists tick this is a good choice. If you are looking for a histori ...more
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading it. Glad I was never a typical metal musician. A better title for the book would have been, "A definitive account of the lifestyles of the better-known musicians in heavy metal's sub-genres as quoted from the musicians themselves." The fifth star of my rating is absent as was discussion of the music itself and a broad range of artists per sub-genre. Should be on every literate metalhead's bookshelf. ...more
Mickey Tompkins
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for metal fans both young and old. The book covers the early days (Blue Cheer. Sabbath, Alice Cooper) to most current metal bands (Slipknot, Disturbed, and Godsmack).

In depth interviews, lots of debauchery, and some un-needed details.

All in all this was a pleasure to read, even if I didn't like certain bands or genres.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very good history of heavy metal, told by the musicians who were there. My one criticism is that each genre was given only one chapter, so you really only get a basic overview. Still if you don't know anything about heavy metal, this is a great place to start. ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books ever.
James Corson
Jul 29, 2021 rated it liked it
As its subtitle suggests, Louder Than Hell is a history of heavy metal told primarily through interviews with the artists themselves. There are plenty of interesting and insightful stories about the genesis and development of metal's most influential and most popular bands. I've read enough about my favorite genre of music that I knew a lot of these stories, but some of them never get old. And there is plenty of stuff I didn't know in the book that made it worth reading.

With that said, I have a
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