While everyone has a right to criticise Popoff for some of his judgements, yet again I fail to understand how people don't see the good this man does for the rock/metal genre. This guy just know the subject like no other and nobody could write the amount of reviews that he has achieved in his 4 volumes covering the 70's through to the 00's. It is an astonishing amount of work and listening and because of that fans like myself have been able to go out and buy albums and be in touch with bands that would otherwise been left of the shelf or hyperspace. Some bands and albums get a right battering in his books but people still need to remember it's just his opinion, and just like other opinions, they are not always right in the views of others, but thankfully people like martin Popoff are able to give their opinions. Again, like I have said before, this is great for fans who like to debate the albums and bands achievements, their place in the history of the genre that we love, Popoff is a master of this, he is aware of the development of the rock/metal genre, the giants within it and the hidden gems that lay unheard of to the masses. I was 20 in 1994 and was thankfully in full head banging mode when Slayer, Pantera and sepultura ruled the thrash scene, but sadly saw the demise of my favourite boys from metallica, I never lost faith and glad they are now back producing fast aggressive music, the 90's ended up with metal in a bad place and it's still not recovered. It's so sad since the decade started so well by eliminating the hair metal scene which I was so against in my last years of school, anyway, great book and sorry for digressing.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining - if frequently frustrating - read.7 Aug. 2008
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Much like it's two preceding volumes, Popoff's "90's" edition is an interesting, brazenly written and formidably large tome with tons of entertainment value for any Metal/hard rock fan. Really, it's difficult to imagine how one even approaches the Herculean task of covering so many bases in a single book - especially considering that the 90's were all but saturated with Metal releases of various stripes and subgenres. To his credit, Popoff does an admirable job of delivering a fairly comprehensive look at the decade's most note-worthy releases.
Presumably due to the flak he admits to having received(and deservedly so, in this reader's opinion) over his treatment of entire subgenres of metal (black, death, thrash, 80's speed/epic, and grindcore, to be specific)in the original '97 "Collector's Guide", it's good to see that the author's made an effort to approach key releases of these genres with at least a slightly more objective critical eye rather than his past wholesale dismissal.
That said, therein lies my primary criticism of this book - as well as with the "80's" edition: while Popoff's writing credentials certainly aren't in question, I find his tastes and critical acumen to be extremely dubious and wildly inconsistent. Really, I'm not sure if I've ever read a book that's elicited more groans, gasps and curses from me. Were this some cheap stab at provoking his readership (think Rolling Stone's loathsome yet ever-popular "Best Guitarists.." or "Best Albums.." lists), that'd be one thing, but this is a man who has written three dense volumes about Heavy Metal and built an impressively bibliography on the subject, all of which implicitly purport a belief that he has a thorough, critical understanding of Heavy Metal. As a 20+ year fan of the genre, I can't help but read Popoff and wonder why someone who seems to basically dislike - and occasionally show great contempt towards - so many terrific, artful, and above all, truly Metal releases would be compelled to build a career on writing about the subject.
While I begrudgingly admire Popoff's adherence to his own frequently peculiar tastes, and I appreciate his reverent championing of under-the-radar releases (especially being a rabid Badlands fan myself), he himself admits that he 'just doesn't get' much of what Metal has turned into over the last twenty years. Singing the praises of Love/Hate, Last Crack, the iffiest Deep Purple, Fozzy, and Kick Axe while scornfully dismissing releases that have literally transformed the genre (Scandinavian death metal, Norwegian black metal, U.K. grindcore, industrial metal) just makes Popoff seem desperately and willfully out of touch. It's as if he's honed his own narrow criteria for what constitutes a good Metal album from years of studied reverence for his favorite 70's hard rock, colored by his abiding sentiment for unsung obscurities, and doesn't have much regard for anything outside of his fairly myopic tastes.
Deep Purple's "Purpendicular" is undoubtedly and objectively a really good album, but it's top ranking on Popoff's list of "Greatest Metal Albums of the 90's" kind of crystallizes my point. Popoff is first and foremost a hard rock fan; his tastes and breadth of knowledge deeply rooted in 70's and early 80's HR, and reading a book of reviews for Metal releases written by someone who just doesn't find all that much merit in (much less enjoy) an alarming amount of what Heavy Metal has transformed into over the last two decades is infinitely more frustrating than it is useful or informative.
That said, what an entertaining read! When talking about the albums he holds dearest, Popoff's writing is frequently terrific. He's a gifted writer, able to draw you into his love for his subject matter without resorting to the ham-fisted, silly hyperbole of most Metal reviewers. I've bought more than one album after reading Popoff's reviews (albeit used copies!) despite my strong reservations about his tastes in Metal, which is about as good an endorsement as I could possibly give him. And while I may cringe while reading a review disassembling a pivotal thrash album with the grumpy disposition of an embittered old man complaining about all things 'new-fangled', it's fun to read his hilariously scornful take on Def Leppard's "Hysteria" and Lee Aaron.
It's hard to imagine anyone would buy this as a 'primer' of any sort - no doubt Popoff's audience is mostly comprised of old-school Metal fanatics of a thoughtful sort (ie, those prone to buying books on the subject) so no real caveats to offer other than to approach this book as entertainment and not as legitimate 'criticism' in a traditional sense- that is, unless you consider a diehard classic rock fan's unstudied dissection of Mayhem, Napalm Death, and Destruction albums to be 'legit criticism'. Cheers to Popoff for the considerable amount of hours he poured into this; maybe next time (?) figure out a way to omit the subgenres you have no interest in or real understanding of - being comprehensive at the expense of sounding out of touch isn't flattering, just frustrating.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Sub genres of sub genres21 Oct. 2008
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OK, the record thus far. His book on the Seventies totalled 1,162 reviews. The Eighties tipped the scales at 2,528. And here we have it. Martin Popoffs' tome on the hard `n' heavy music that he loves so much from the Nineties weighing in at 3,073 reviews of industrial deafness inducing platters.
Given the plethora of splinter genres that hard rock and metal shattered into during the 90's this is certainly the book that has given Popoff the most grief as to what to cover and what not to cover. It has also seen the most apologies from the author for albums he hasn't reviewed. I'd have to say that basically everything important is present and accounted for unless you're into Latvian folk/death metal sung in Mongolian by pygmies. But the band catalogues aren't so complete and to tell the truth I think that apart from page restrictions it's because during the 90's many extreme sub genres seemed to dominate - at least publicity wise - and this sort of stuff doesn't give Popoff that fire in the belly that more traditional metal forms do. Which is unfortunate for fans of those genres but the preponderance of this uglification of metal wasn't great news for the genre as a whole anyway, so maybe it's a bit of poetic justice.
Popoff - like many reviewers here on Amazon myself included - won't be getting a job as a professor of written English anytime soon yet as I've said before when reviewing his products I buy his books for information, for an irreverent look at the genre from someone who loves it and doesn't look down on it and I can easily forgive lapses in prose/syntax etc in order to get my hands on it.
As per usual there is an introduction to the book by Popoff himself and also appendices thrown in for fun and/or to cause an argument at your next party. Both of which are useful enough premises! And I have to say that the quality of the binding on this book and in fact the first two volumes of his guide to metal is far superior to the rather cheap `n' cheerful job done on his first book, Riff Kills Man, from the early 90's.
In summation problems with this book are; a lot of gaps which is probably unavoidable. You get the feeling the author wasn't really sure if he liked the Euro metal of the 90's which is pretty much the continent producing the bulk of useful metal at the time. And there will always be arguments as to what bands or projects should or shouldn't have been included. On the plus side you get a stack of information delivered in a conversational style by someone who loves the genre as a whole. And if you have his earlier volumes then you'll be able to assimilate his tastes and know how much weight to give his ratings when selecting which albums to purchase to flesh out your own personal collection. Certainly worthy of your dollar for the sheer encyclopaedic nature of the thing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sheer fun, again!16 Sept. 2009
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Man, this is fun. You can read reaviwes about albums you love and testify Popoff bashing it mercilessly. The contrary can also happen. Also, his opinion about a certain album may be almost identical to your opinion. It's fun, and the most pleasure comes from the fact that he clearly loves hard music without being a moron.
I'm a little biased to enjoy his work, because there are some points that we share in commons: absolute love for Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, UFO, early Priest, Bon Scott's AC/DC; despise for Iron Maiden since Fear of The Dark (it's a miracle this band did not die after so many disgraceful albums - this must be some kind of mass hypnosis made by Steve Harris - not to mention the lousy edited DVD's and the thousand compilations and live albums to rip off the "fans"); the "0" rating he gives to Def Leppard (probably the greatest sell out in the históry of hard music - Mutt Lange managed to totally suck out the life of this band - even Shania Twain make better records!)
Again, there is some mispelling, but it's enjoyable reading.
A lot of metal, and a lot of stuff that's nowhere close to metal15 Sept. 2010
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You have to give Martin Popoff (of Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles) credit for his ambition, if nothing else. Over the course of three (soon to be four) volumes, he attempts to chronicle all of the albums that remotely qualify as metal and provide some commentary on each one. This volume - The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3 - The Nineties - is probably the least impressive book in the series.
The `90s weren't the glory days of metal that the `80s were, but once the grunge wave came and went, there were a lot of important and innovative developments in metal. This book attempts to track most of the decade's metal offerings. Popoff reviews the albums we love and the ones we've never heard of. This is just a great resource for tracking the decade's key releases and discovering new bands and albums.
But it's not all metal in this book. I can understand the need to pad The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 1: The Seventies with all manner of hard and heavy rock, as the decade just didn't have that much in the way of true heavy metal. But by the `90s, even with the heavier grunge bands, metal was pretty clearly defined, and much of this book is devoted to non-metal bands. Several bands and albums from the resurgent prog/power genres are left out, as is a wide array of the emerging black metal scene, which was arguably the decade's most important metal scene. Instead a good chunk of punk, grunge, southern rock and AOR albums are covered. I like plenty of that stuff, but it has no business in this book.
As for the reviews themselves, I'm not a huge fan of Popoff's style, and he comes across as pretentious at times, but the reviews are the secondary reason for buying this book. I respect that he's always willing to venture an opinion that goes against the accepted wisdom. I will say this, his top 100 lists at the end of the book are just embarrassing.
You don't need to agree with all of the reviews to appreciate the fact that if you're a fan of `90s era heavy metal, this is a pretty impressive resource. I just wish Popoff would have spent more time on the "Collector's" aspect of the title. It would have been great to know which of these albums have since been reissued on CD, for example. Also, the "rarities" CD that's included features regular album tracks from fairly common Metal Blade albums. I didn't see anything that would be considered rare.
No Love For AOR28 Jun. 2011
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I have to give Martin credit here. This is a really excellent reference guide to metal in the 90's that covers pretty much all genres. The list is extensive and while most cds are included, there are some missing as well, but overall, it is very good. My problem is this. Martin's obvious dislike of the AOR genre as a whole. While at the same time totally embracing the grunge genre. Since when were bands like Nirvana and Sponge metal? Yet, titles from these bands get ratings of 8 to 10 and he gives most AOR bands 0 to 4. For example, he gave Def Leppard's Hysteria a 0 and Nirvana's Bleacha 10. WTF? Dispite this injustice the book is a very good read and based on his descriptions of the bands, you will be sure to find new bands to try out. Just don't make your decisions based on his review score. Another thing that confused me was his idea of what is melodic and what is not. Again, Aor, the genre that is based entirely around good melodies, is shunned, while genres like Death and Black metal are raved about for their melody. What is melodic about your singer screaming like cookie monster for 45 minutes? Don't get me wrong here. I love all genres of metal and have over 13,000 cds at home to prove it. I just have a difference of opinion that Martin's of what is good and what is not. Still a very recommended book!!!