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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,673 ratings  ·  140 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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by It Books (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,673 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Shawn Fairweather
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I tried and tried to come up with justification to give this 3 stars however I just can't stomach the idea. So why is that? Well perhaps the author needs to figure out how to put fandom aside and to become objective when taking on a subject matter that he obviously has much invested in. By that I mean, when trying to take on such a large subject such as the entire history of heavy metal, the author needs to realize that Metallica and his fanboy worhship of them does not make up 60-70% of the his ...more
Michael Jandrok
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A few weeks ago I reviewed what I considered to be a subpar history of heavy metal, titled “Hellraisers.” You can read my review here:

Now to be completely fair to that book, it got a low rating from me because I thought that it lacked the proper scope of the subject and omitted far too many bands and artists that were important to the genre and its many subgenres as a whole. The photography was great, and it did bill itself as a visual history, but the no-
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

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
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
For those who may not know, Ian Christie is a mainstay DJ on SiriusXM's Liquid Metal channel, and he hosts a riveting show called Bloody Roots where he tackles some thematic issue each time, be it Folk Metal from the UK, the origins of Black Metal in Scandinavia; he even did an ode to children and childhood through heavy metal music. Needless to say, this dude's a sage on the subject and a kindred spirit of alliteration meshed with a heroic writing style. As one of the back cover plugs by the Li ...more
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
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
Apr 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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. ...more
Lee Vickers
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
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. ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Cameron O'neil
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
I really enjoyed this! It was a well written and entertaining. I put it on my best reads pile.
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Cupcakes & Machetes
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Being a metal fan, I thought that I would sit down and get my metal history straight. Turns out it was completely straight to begin with, thanks to my husband who had already told me 99% of the information in this book.

So I skipped around to the chapters I thought were more interesting like punk and black metal, turns out, according to my husband, that the black metal chapter is pretty lacking. He scrunched up his face in disgust as I read a few tid bits to him. I have now been pointed in the d
Jonathan Maas
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read this awhile ago, just writing review today. In short, it's attributes:

* Author Ian Christe really brings his power to light here. He's been doing this since he was a teenager, and this is one of his culminations.
* Though metal history is easily dated because of new bands coming out every year, there's a timelessness here.
* It's quite humorous in places, particularly Christe's lists.

Just a great book, a great gift for metalheads and more. One of those 'open it up at any page and jump in' bo
Dec 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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)." ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was ok
I can't for the life of me figure out why Ian Christe didn't just write a book about Metallica. If you are a Metallica fan, then this one if for you. If you have high hopes that you will see more than a paragraph about your favorite metal band, look elsewhere. ...more
Russell Holbrook
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Are you kidding?! This is the best book about metal, so far, ever!! At least it's my favorite. Really, this is hands down my favorite music book of all time. It's immensely fun to read and was written by a dude who loves metal just as much as you or I do, or maybe more. ...more
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well written, kept my attention.
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Tiffany Newman
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
When reading the first part of the book, I was impressed, but as I went on, my disappointment grew.

The book has one great thing and it's the writing style. At times you can feel the atmosphere of the time described in the book. The book is also very easy to read, due to great use of the language. The early days are described quite well, but after that, it all went downhill.

The bad is that it feels that the book has a narrow perspective on the music, if not fairly one-sided. The protagonists of t
Chris Mcgarry
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It isn’t very often that avid readers stumble across a work of nonfiction that not only hooks them in, but completely enthralls their mind. For aficionados of hard rock and heavy metal, ‘Sound of the Beast’ could easily serve as the definitive guide for this genre of headbanging, leather, pentagrams and screaming vocals.
Christe puts together a factual, in – depth account of the roots of heavy metal, from the earliest bands that could be defined as metal such as Blue Cheer to the 1970s, when Bla
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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

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  Jenny Lawson is the funniest person you know. And if you don’t know her, just read one of her books and she becomes the funniest person you...
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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.” 7 likes
“Those bands, in their style and approach, that’s what I call tits-and-ass metal,” comments Rob Halford of Judas” 1 likes
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