Thrash Hits

November 28th, 2013

Book: Birth School Metallica Death, Volume 1: The Biography – Paul Brannigan & Ian Winwood

Metallica 1985 Thrash Hits

We piped up about Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood’s attempt at writing a definitive ‘Tallica biog earlier this year and we duly got sent a copy by Faber Faber. It took a while to get through the 400 or so pages, but it was certainly worth it.

6 things we learnt whilst reading the latest Metallica biog

1) The most important thing with history is that it’s reported correctly and without duress and due to BSMD not being an official biography, it doesn’t suffer from kissing arse the whole through via edits and embellishments by the band and management. The language may be more florid than your average local news item but this is simply reportage at its most vigorous.

2) It’s an exhaustive account. James Hetfield’s troubled home life and Lars Ulrich’s journey from Copenhangen luxury to Californian strife has never been documented in such alarming detail before. This is the kind of story-telling that we dread encountering in the pub – oodles of minutiae celebrated with extravagant prose that transforms each sentence into something more than simple recollection. It’s a tone that is often found to be curiously at odds to the gritty subject matter – tough for a casual but imperative for the die-hard.

3) The pedigree of the writers counts for everything here. Both former Kerrang! editor, Paul Brannigan and current Kerrang! writer, Ian Winwood have an impressive history in music journalism. To give an idea of how this book is going to go: Brannigan’s Dave Grohl biography from 2011, This Is A Call would probably still be a Top 10 international best-selling biography if any book or record shops were still open.

4) Written from the perspective of two men who grew up during the NWOBHM, there is a unique understanding of where Metallica came from musically. It was as much a rarity then as it is now for Americans to look beyond their own shores for music. Of course, they have much quality of their own and it’s British bands who have often affected the American accent within their music, so it’s fascinating for the way Ulrich and Hetfield’s love for Motorhead, Saxon and Iron Maiden grew and grew to be catalogued.

5) Superficial, perhaps, but this book looks and feels magnificent. The hardcover book feels weighty in the hand and the matt black finish of the cover allows your fingers to glide over it, feeling friction at the glossy letters that make up the title. If you like your books how you like your vinyl, the aesthetics of BSMD will resonate with you. If you’re an MP3 guy, you’ll just get the e-book.

6) There’s another volume on its way in 2014. That florid prose and extravagant sentence construction could be mistaken as a way of bumping the word count up, but this is a compelling read throughout. This will be looked upon as the definitive Metallica tome in years to come.

Buy a copy of Birth School Metallica Death here.

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