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Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal [Paperback]

Jon Wiederhorn , Katherine Turman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jun 2014

The definitive oral history of heavy metal, Louder Than Hell by renowned music journalists Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman includes hundreds of interviews with the giants of the movement, conducted over the past 25 years.

Unlike many forms of popular music, metalheads tend to embrace their favorite bands and follow them over decades. Metal is not only a pastime for the true aficionados; it’s a lifestyle and obsession that permeates every aspect of their being. Louder Than Hell is an examination of that cultural phenomenon and the much-maligned genre of music that has stood the test of time.

Louder than Hell features more than 250 interviews with some of the biggest bands in metal, including Black Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Spinal Tap, Pantera, White Zombie, Slipknot, and Twisted Sister; insights from industry insiders, family members, friends, scenesters, groupies, and journalists; and 48 pages of full-color photographs.

Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (5 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061958298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061958298
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“Whether you’re the sort of man who knows everything from who first threw the Devil Horns to the correct pronunciation of Yngwie Malmsteen, there is something fascinating to learn from Louder Than Hell . . . Shed[s] new light on the making of Satan’s Music.” (Esquire)

“Presents the collective memory of heavy metal through the ages and eras in the voices of the men who lived it . . . It’s an aficionado’s delight.” (New York Daily News)

Louder than Hell is a love letter to the misunderstood genre of heavy metal music, written by trusted companions who had a front row seat on the devil’s rollercoaster. The definitive chronological testimony by the people who were there, including some who are no longer with us.” (Mark McGrath, Sugar Ray and co-host Extra)

“A great read and an instant classic.” (The Onion's A.V. Club)

“This is the best oral history I’ve read since Please Kill Me. Louder than Hell is the first book that really delivers the brutal truth from the mouths of the artists and key players themselves! I couldn’t put it down.” (Matt Pinfield)

“Two devil horns up!” (USA Today)

A compelling, first-person account of a seemingly unstoppable force . . .the book reads like an extended, uncensored, shockingly satisfying episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. (Washington Post)

“An amazingly comprehensive book on all eras and genres of hard rock and heavy metal. The stories and attention to detail make it an instant must for anyone who ever was or is a fan.” (Eddie Trunk, DJ and host of That Metal Show on VH1 Classic)

Often hilarious, occasionally, ‘God, I wish I hadn’t read that!’, sometimes profound, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes infuriating . . . no one holds back on any subject. . . you come away from this book with a crystal-clear vision of this world (The Huffington Post)

“The authors inclusiveness give this examination a weight that is just as heavy as the music.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A who’s who of heavy music . . . What makes Louder Than Hell un-put-down-able are the stories . . . Essential.” (Revolver (4 stars))

“No one’s gone quite as deep into the genre’s recesses as this 746-page oral history, which covers everything from the birth of Black Sabbath to Dave Mustaine’s departure from Metallica to the disaster that was Woodstock ‘99.” (Rolling Stone, four stars)

“Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman know metal. Louder Than Hell is an amazing gathering of different breeds of heavy metal rockers telling the tales metal fans want to hear.” (Tom Morello, Rage Against the Machine)

“If you love metal, great stories, and music history told by the people who made it, then Louder than Hell is a must-read. This is the book every metal fan should own. (Alice Cooper)

Louder Than Hell comes straight from the twisted minds of rock icons and flows seamlessly through various eras of heavy metal. . .I really dig this book.” (Riki Rachtman)

“I’ve said thousands of times that reading ‘totally sucks.’ But this book does indeed not suck. Books on the history of even something as cool as metal can be a bit antiseptic and boring-not this one.” (Brendon Small, Dethklok)

“Who likes rock n roll here?? Well if you do, this is the book for you! . . . This is the definitive chronicle of all that is heavy metal and I’ve read them all!” (Chris Jericho, Fozzy)

“As definitive as it gets, bonding historical anecdotes to pieces of debauched mythology from the scene’s platinum superstars and fringe icons . . . as indispensable as a skull-adorned leather jacket.” (Entertainment Weekly, A-)

From the Back Cover

Louder Than Hell is the definitive oral history of heavy metal, crafted from more than four hundred interviews with icons of the genre from its inception to today, including Ozzy Osbourne, Eddie Van Halen, Tommy Lee, Lars Ulrich, Vince Neil, Axl Rose, Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Dimebag Darrell. From groundbreaking innovations such as the dawn of distortion and the birth of cookie monster vocals to amazing tales of destruction and wild sexcapades, Louder Than Hell is packed with raw, unflinching stories, eye-opening admissions, and the truth behind some of metal's wildest moments.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars None More Metal 5 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely comprehensive oral history of Heavy Metal, from the numerous contenders for the origin of the term heavy metal to the present day splintering into many subgenres. For me the first few chapters were the most interesting, covering the rise of Black Sabbath and their contempories, followed by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. the focus then switches across to America as we witness the development of the power metal bands and the rise of Thrash. All the major players are quoted (archive interviews provide quotes from the all too many metal musicians who are no longer with us). Particularly eye opening is a fascinating insight into the notorious Norwegian Black Metal scene. The quotes chosen do a very good job of undercutting that scene's "malevolence" and it seems clear that the damage and death associated with this scene in the early nineties boils down to the squabbling of silly men who ought to have known better. The later chapters covering bands such as Pantera, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot were less interesting to me as I know little of their music (and the interviews didn't encourage me to investigate further). As any discerning metal fan will be well aware there are a number of people prominently associated with genre who are, to put it politely, idiots and unfortunately things can get a bit wearing reading of their repetitive juvenile exploits. Nonetheless this is an excellent book, a comprehensive achievement and any metal fan will find much to enjoy here
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good effort but no Children of Bodom? Booooo! 28 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being a massive heavy metal fan I was excited to see a 700+ paged book of its history come out. The story is told by the musicians themselves which makes it a lot more insightful than a general biography. Most of the major players such as Tony Iommi, Rob Halford, Kerry King, Phil Anselmo, Robb Flynn, Adam Dutkiewicz and Jamey Jasta talk at length about their experiences so it's not just a mediocre cobbled together effort. I learnt a lot about some of the bands and the development of metal music over the years. It's also full of drug and sex stories which are an eye opener, in fact they are the most explicit I've read since Motley Crue-The Dirt! A few things annoyed me though...there was absolutely no mention of the whole neoclassical and folk metal genres (bands like Children of Bodom, Kalmah and Ensiferum are in a different league to some of the tosh in here!) and considering this is a 2013 release it was very vast on up and coming bands such as Bring Me The Horizon, August Burns Red and Asking Alexandria. But to be fair a proper history on this subject would take thousands of pages to write so there are bound to be bits missing. What Louder Than Hell does include is really interesting but Wiederhorn and Turman definitely played it safe in my opinion, information on a few more obscurer acts would certainly have benefited and complimented this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 29 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought as a present
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  57 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only metal book you need 30 May 2013
By C. Runnells - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At last, someone has written a smart, thorough and thoroughly readable history of metal! Most metal books read like what they are: Books written by sloppy amateurs who are fans more than writers. The people behind "Louder Than Hell" are established professionals who put a lot of care and love into this book. It's full of stories -- in the band's own words -- about touring, recording classic albums and the general metal scene. Great, great book. I can't recommend it enough. Every metal fan owes it to himself (or herself) to get this one!
32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fans of music and metal, skip this book. 4 Jun 2013
By tim - Published on Amazon.com
I am a huge fan of metal in general, have read quite a few biographies on artists, and the genre. I heard about this book a few months back and was pretty excited to read it when I saw it had come out. The excitement dissipated quickly.

This book is 685 pages, and something that is quickly apparent is that is not nearly enough.

I'll start with the bright spots.

Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead lead singer/bassist) doesn't have a bad quote in the book. I think I laughed out loud at everything that was attributed to him. Unfortunately he is pretty much in and out within the first 100 pages, and a lot of his quotes are familiar. I'm not quite sure if he just kind of ran through his gamut of great lines with the authors, or some of his stuff was pulled from previous interviews.

The section dealing with the Florida death metal scene of the late-80's and early-90's was something that I had not read very much about despite an interest in bands like Death, and the scene associated with the "Morrisound". The book does a pretty good job delving into the depth surrounding the bands and the scene. Members of Morbid Angel, Deicide, Hate Eternal, etc...provide an interesting look at how the bands are connected, the thrash roots, and a lot of the mindsets that drove the musicians to their extremes.

The black metal section had a little bit of value to it. Much of it was a very simple rehash of the book Lords of Chaos, but it did provide some more information from Varg Vikernes, on his murder of Euronymous. Whether he is entirely to be believed is another matter, but I really had not read his point of view before. There is a depth to how the whole issue is tackled from the view of other members of Mayhem, as well as others in the scene. The way it was covered could have benefited other sections dealing with issues like the deaths of both Cliff Burton (Metallica) and Dimebag Darrell (Pantera).

The highlight of the book is the part dealing with the 80's thrash scene. While it doesn't tackle much new information all while putting a very large focus on Metallica, it really seems to have the most feeling put forth by those interviewed. Still, it's not enough to make this worth purchasing.

Entire sections could have been left out of this book.

The nu-metal chapter really doesn't add much to define the scene. Great, guys were getting blowjobs and the members of Coal Chamber liked meth. So what? In a book about metal, dealing with a genre that I think (sometimes) gets a terrible rap (no pun intended), this could have been a perfect opportunity to try and explain where the artists were coming from. There really is none of that.

I also found the last chapter on the current American metal scene to not portray an interesting future, but a drab, lifeless, radio-driven mess. There is still a thriving underground scene nationwide that has the opportunity to find more people than ever through our fascination with the Internet, and social media. This book really could have helped drive that. Instead it put the focus on bands like Tool, and Mastodon. While both bands are proven, and important, this book really didn't shed much light on anything that isn't commonly known. It also tries hard to convince the reader bands like Godsmack, and Rob Zombie matter. Eh, they're radio fodder, but never going to be the flag bearers going forward. I think this part would have been the perfect place to namedrop and generate some excitement for the future.

At the end of the day anyone who has any knowledge of the genre will probably not find much in this book that makes it worth reading the whole thing. I'm not going to completely blame the authors; they took on a gigantic subject within a limited context. There is some value to pieces of history covered within this text, but it is sparse and definitely not worth the price of admission.

The definitive book on the history of metal has yet to be written. I'm not convinced trying to cover it in one place will even work.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Academic History of Metal 2 Aug 2013
By Ria Darling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoy metal and feel like I know a decent amount about it but damn this book is a hard read. It's like an oral but academic history of metal. It includes all different genres-classic (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest), the hair bands of the 80s, the big 4 (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth), the British scene, speed metal, punk metal, black metal, techno metal....the list goes on. Honestly, I could have been spared the inclusion of Filter, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy -not that I don't like them, I just think that they didn't really merit a whole chapter.
My main complaint about the book is that is the way it's organized. It starts out chronological and then segments things by genres. It's hard to get a sense of the 'scene' when it's grouped this way-more interesting would have been to see what's going on in the different genres at the same time to see how each evolved. Rather, you get a sense of each sub-genre as a whole but not a complete picture of the scene. The strongest chapter, in my opinion, is the death metal/black metal chapter, toward the end. SO read the above-notice I'm not talking about the great stories that the artists share in the book? About how everyone has a great Dave Mustaine story? Because, much to my surprise, there wasn't much funny about the book. I was expecting there to be a much bigger Spinal Tap factor but there's just...Not. But there's a great debate on the correct positioning of fingers when flashing the sign of the devil (useful and amusing) and details about Rob Halford's struggles as a gay metal God and well done details of Dimebag's last days before he was shot at a show in Columbus. Worth the read but totally academic-it's obvious the author cares about his subject and has researched it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Metal used to be much more Metal 8 July 2013
By Chris Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is really strong on the earlier bands and the height of metal. The stories and characters are amazing and interesting. The ending is weak as it focuses on the later metal scenes and trends and the bands that were part of that era. I don't know if that is because the bands are smaller or just the energy and effort of the writers had run out by the time they reached the end. I'm going to say it is that the bands are smaller and pale imitations of what has come before. Even the decadence was third hand and after the first 10 groupie stories they start to sound pathetic. Overall a fascinating read into some wild characters and wild times in a changing industry. If you like music and want to pull the curtain aside you could do way worse.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They book was well assembled 7 July 2013
By Rob Ling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I say assembled, because the authors have taken a ton of interviews, and creatively broken them down into context. So it reads as though there are a handful of musicians, roadies, managers, label executives etc... having a conversation about a specific topic as it relates to a specific band, scene at a specific point in time. The transition between these topics is smooth, and flows well. The book takes a chronological path and is fairly thorough. Sure, it isn't going to mention every band, or person involved, but that would be an unreal task. This is a must read for any metal heads out there!
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