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.