Book Review: “Louder Than Hell, The Definitive Oral History of Metal” by Katherine Turman and Jon Wiederhorn, Harper Collins
At over 740 some pages it honestly feels like I am still reading this book. Or more likely, that I will never stop reading this book because it kicks that much ass. Recently re-released as a slightly more affordable softcover book, “Louder Than Hell” is an all-encompassing, unfiltered, “straight from the artist’s own words” look at heavy metal.
First off, no matter how glowing a review you could write there’s no way I could come close to explaining or detailing exactly how impressive this book really is. Authors Katherine Turman (RIP Magazine) and Jon Weiderhorn (Revolver) have succeded not only at writing a page turning thrillride of a story, but also a book so essential and informative it deserves a permanent spot on your top shelf. It succeeds at everything various “metal encyclopedias” have failed at over the years; really quite the accomplishment given the scope of the subject matter and the amount of subgenres explored here.
The story of heavy music is told mostly through the use of narrative quotes rather than the authors own words so it actually allows the reader to feel as though THEY are getting the scoop straight from the mouths of some of the greatest architects of metal. The introduction by Scott Ian is friggin brilliant and raises the anticipation for Scott’s own upcoming autobiography coming later this year. Following this, “Louder Than Hell” then truly begins examining the roots of metal and again manages to impress by actually delivering tidbits of unique information and untold stories from seminal bands like KISS, Sabbath and Priest, (bands you think you know everything about). I honestly began to skip over the KISS stuff, since I have read almost everything ever written about the band, when I noticed that there were some stories I had never heard Gene, Paul, Ace or Peter tell before.
“Louder Than Hell” possesses a style so familiar and fun that I found myself enjoying the chapters on rap metal, industrial and black metal just as much as the rest of the book, despite not being quite as into that music to begin with. Wiederhorn and Turman also doan excellent job of tying together all the different metal subgenres, for example, many of the thrash guys and hardcore punk bands often end up on the same pages just as the millenium metal and rap metal often do.
The book ends sharply and in dark fashion with the death of Slipknot’s Paul Gray before some final affirmative metal thoughts from Mr. Rob Halford. If you haven’t read “Louder Than Hell” now is a great time to check it out. It is at least ten times better than a compilation of every episode of “That Metal Show” or “Behind The Music” and way easier to digest. Don’t be surprised if your friend won’t lend you their copy and tells you to buy one for your own shelf as everyone with a strong interest in hard rock or metal should own this book.
Buy “Louder Than Hell”, newly available in softcover, HERE