4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A book about Heavy metal would not have been on my immediate 'to read' list but when I started to read Chapter 1, I was plunged back into my past and was glad I had chosen the book. This is a book where the reader can relate to the teen years - playing your favourite album to the family at Christmas and wondering why they don't feel the same elation; finding like-minded friends into the same bands; discarding the school uniform in favour of denim, leather, pvc and other skintight material; forming a band and thinking you're the best ever!
In Hell Bent For Leather, Seb goes beyond the personal journey and litters his beautifully written narrative with information that the reader might not be aware of - who the best Heavy Metal bands were and what happened to them; what the different types of guitars were available and how they were altered for effect; the importance and impact of band logos; a brilliant guided tour of Heavy Metal London; the rise and fall of Metal's many facets.
As the years roll by, Seb describes the band and name changes. As in any culture of this type, he describes his introduction to drugs and it is Acid which brings him back to his senses. From this he is teaching the reader the danger of drug abuse and must be praised for his handling of this subject matter. It is an uphill struggle for the band to become recognised and Seb's narrative works with honesty and even though I was never into Heavy Metal (Hi-NRG was, and still is, my only love!), I could still relate to Seb's struggles with his parents, leaving home and following his path to an uncertain future.
Seb's book is a constant reminder of growing up, making new friends, facing disasters, accepting sad loss, enjoying conquests and, in general, the highs and lows of life while attempting to achieve the ultimate goal. You don't have to be interested in Heavy Metal because there's something for everyone in this book. Illustrated with relevant photographs, this book is highly recommended for up and coming musicians and non-musicians alike.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I thought this might be enjoyable, taking me back to my childhood when metal ruled my world - and it did.
Well written and amusing, it's a quite gentle tale through a man's life which many will remember as true to life. Heavy metal was such a dominant force for people wanting something more from their music than the regular chart hits, and a driving force in helping people form bands with a common aim.
This book will be a joy for plenty of men of a certain age (mid 30s- mid 40s) who grew up with metal, joined bands, played terrible gigs - and eventually moved on as I did, although plenty have stayed loyal to true metal.
Although I started the move away with John Peel and the C86 movement, metal was *so* important (first song I learnt was TNT by AC/DC) in binding young men together, and helping them learn to play that this book will reawaken plenty of memories - and it's funny too!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Like a lot of other reviewers I can see a lot of my own early history in Seb's often very funny biography.
Overall I found his earlier exploits, before he left home, to be the most engaging and what I, in particular, identified with. I can still remember my own Road to Damascus moment when I "discovered" Heavy Metal. Unfortunately this first half of the book also shoe horns a lot of Heavy Metal lists and trivia in amongst the pure biography and I doubt anyone but a true believer is going to really enjoy reading these or have much of a chance of getting the jokes.
The second half of Seb's story, when he begins to pursue fame and fortune in earnest doesn't feel quite as authentic as the first half. It's entirely possible that he simply can't remember much of the details because of the amount of drugs he was using. During this second half of his story Seb does come across as a total loser and not a nice guy to know. Where he does concentrate his attention it's on fairly mundane parts of his life and I felt that a lot of what was happening on stage with the band was glossed over in a few lines. Perhaps he's just really embarrassed about the stage performances.
The relationship between Seb and his father surfaces every so often as an important theme, but, typical of a teenager, when out of sight his family is out of mind so again I was left feeling there was more there to be told.
If all that sounds a bit negative it's not meant to be. Like the book, it's a warts and all viewpoint. In truth I ate this book up and finished it in a couple of sittings. I'm a little older than Seb and remember those times from a slightly different viewpoint but can empathise with so much of what he's written.
To be honest, every Metalhead has probably already read this but if you haven't you owe it to yourself to read it. Probably not a suitable present for granny, though.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book grabbed me being about heavy metal, for which im a big rock music fan and also, seb growing up in winchester to which i used to live very close to so i could relate to everything!
We join seb in his journey of his life, the highs (literally) and the lows! of a self confessed heavy metal addict - from his first ac/dc album as a kid and his very much disapproving family! to getting gigs in my local pub and how his obsession became his life!
this really is a book that any music fan will relate to, i can very much see myself in him in his witty memoirs of his addiction taking hold of him! with references to gigs by bands such as guns and roses - it really is a fascinating read and what a rockin life he had! Even for people not into heavy metal this is a great auto-biography! recommended read, read from cover to cover in a couple of days!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Seb Hunter's book is an embarassing, frank, warts'n'all recollection of life as a failed struggling not-quite-a-rock-star in the childhood years. Funny, painfully honest, an exhaustive recount of the age when Kerrang! and Kiss and bands of that ilk ruled the world with their escapist pomp/pop-rock. Seb falls hopelessly in love with the idea of being the next Thunder, tries to rule the world with little talent but much ambition, and reminds everyone who tried to learn (and failed) to play a guitar of the futile ambitions of a crowded marketplace where even geniuses are overlooked in favour of the brazen and the shameless. Hell Bent For Leather is a love letter to metal music of 1987, and to teenage ambition, and to wild ambition, and comes highly recommended to everyone who has ever played air guitar.
on 10 January 2009
July 1979, last day of term 3rd year (year 9 nowadays) aged 14. This is when I heard Paranoid by Black Sabbath and so began my love affair with heavy metal and heavy rock. The world was a much simpler place in those days, music was on big vinyl discs and the release of an album especially in a gatefold sleeve was an event that is so far removed from the unemotional downloading of tunes today. This book is a simple and honest narrative that brought back a lot of memories for me of the groups I used to worship, sometimes still listen to most notably AC/DC and the World around and my life in it. The black and white photo's were particularly evocative of that time PERIOD for me.
The great thing about the metal/hard rock genre was, and still is,that it encompases so many sounds;from the ballads of Journey to the soul and ear threatening noise of Trivium. There was and still is something for every taste and fans can and do appreciate the broad spectrum.
I was never drawn to actually pick up a guitar and become a member of a band but this ia an intersting insight to the success and failure of a dream and a way of life.
Although so many of the bands I used to love I no longer listen bacause what they're singing isn't relevant to me, I have stayed connected to Journey, AC/DC,Thunder amongst others.Older,more mellow I listen to many other different types of music too with my preference for female singer/song writers. June 2003, MTV, Bring Me To Life by Evanescence reignited my passion for heavy rock. The female fronted symphonic gothic genre led by Within Temptation and Nightwish encapsulates everything I want from my music. I don't agree with Seb Hunter that metal died, it's still very much alive, it just evolved and re-invented itself for a new generation and fell out of the mainstream which was probably a good thing. Just put heavy metal into the search box here at Amazon for proof of life.
This is really two books in one. There's the story of Seb's journey into adulthood, discovering much about himself and music along the way. There's also some very good, well-written and thoughtful music journalism interspersed within the narrative.
I confess that I tired of Seb's own story. A bit geeky and only marginally entertaining.
The music journalism is of a much higher calibre, and he provides thumbnail sketches of various bands and movements from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. These cover a multitude of musical styles from pop to the most hardcore Metal. Very entertaining, even when discussing bands that I've neither heard of nor - after reading Seb's prose - want to search out.
Other reviewers have criticised Hunter's lack of "proper" Heavy Metal credentials but this simply shows what a broad church Heavy Metal is. And as we all know - "Rock and Roll is the only religion that never lets you down".
You'll know whether you'll agree with Hunter's take on Heavy Metal by viewing his hairstyle on the cover and noting that his top 5 Heavy Metal albums are by Aerosmith, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Guns `n' Roses and Slayer. Hmm.
However the quality of the music journalism is high and the book is a very entertaining read for that alone.
Despite everything this book does draw you in - if you have any Metal in your blood. His assertion that Motorhead's "1916" was a concept album on a World War One theme had me puzzled, followed by a long delve into the recesses of my music collection. I don't think it is...
But you'll either agree with his opinions and feel righteously vindicated or you'll disagree and feel that - smugly - you hold a secret inner truth about Metal that seems to have passed poor Mr Hunter by.
For what it's worth, my take on Heavy Metal is that:
1. Only British bands can qualify (I'm including AC/DC here).
2. Three-piece best, four-piece okay, five-piece only acceptable if the vocalist can't play an instrument. But if he can't sing either that's okay as well.
3. No keyboards. Hawkwind may be (well, were) a brilliant band, but Metal they ain't.
4. Must have been at their peak between 1978 and 1984.
5. Can only use a modicum of spandex, fishnets, girly make-up and hair gel, highlights and whatever that stuff is that gives you extra lift and volume. Looking like Lemmy is good. Looking like Dolly Parton isn't. Unless you're Twisted Sister. Or Dolly Parton.
And can I really be the only one that thinks that "Stairway to Heaven" and "Smoke on the Water" are truly awful? And certainly not Metal.
Top 5 Heavy Metal bands in my opinion (no particular order) - Motorhead, AC/DC, Venom, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.
Very good in parts - give the book a try.
on 10 December 2008
Hell Bent for Leather is the autobiography of Seb Hunter following his years as a fan of metal, from hearing his first notes of AC/DC, through years of playing in bands, trying to make it big and following the styles and trends until Kurt Cobain appeared on the scene and ruined the fun for everyone. As such is is in many ways not really an autobiography of Seb Hunter the person, but of his interest in music and the accompanying lifestyle.
For anyone with in interest in metal and music a lot of the book will be hauntingly familiar - following a story many tread during the 80's of listening to the music, starting bands with friends and making sure you all had the style perfect. This book looks back to detail these times, but at the same time with a bit of modern knowledge and hindsight and somewhat facing the reality of what was really happening with things like the 'cool' dress sense and how brilliant the band making a racket in a friends house actually were...
Despite the almost average backing of the storyline, the book is an entertaining read, following Seb's journey both the good and bad parts - to pick an example the joy of being in the big city to 'make it big' with the band, but at the same time scraping a living and only just surviving in real life.
For anyone with an interest in music this is a great book to give you an walkthrough of trends past and the lifestyle many adopted during those years (compared to what is considered 'cool' in alternative music nowadays and its own trends) and anyone looking for a fairly easily read book that still manages to get its point across and follows both the uplifting and downtrodden life of music.
on 7 December 2008
First of all let me say that I am a heavy rock fan and not a metalhead. However this book really grabbed me from the first page onwards. It is part biography and part introduction to all things metal.
You follow this spotty oik from the discovery of metal in his early teens, the formation of various "cool" bands and his descent into drugs. He provides us with a humourous and enjoyable look at life in the metalheads world. Here everything is rated on your hair, makeup, type of metal loved and your individual self image.
He was a member of Winchester's greatest metal groups and later played the Borderline and Marquee clubs in London. What stands out is that your own self image and delusions are far more important than your actual ability. Seb never made it to the big time but had the coolness that should have sent him far.
I highly recommend his descriptions of prog rock, keyboards, guitar headstocks and metal genres. I also loved his description of working at McDonalds in Lytonstone. Reading this made me glad that I never touch their "fresh" orange juice.
The only annoying part was his constant reference to "the" DC and "the" Maiden. Maybe it's a generational thing but we never refered to them as anything other than DC and Maiden.
Go out and by this whether you are a metal fan or not. You will enjoy it.
Yes, I too was a headbanger in the 80s. I was much more closet about it than our Seb, and my commitment to the sex-and-drugs end of rock'n'roll was far less absolute, but I still recognize an awful lot of what he writes about.
That said, I learned an awful lot from this book about the things I didn't do myself - such as the multiple sub-genres of thrash metal. But it's not meant to be a work of scholarship; just an entertaining account of a wayward youth, and it certainly achieves that.
The narrative flags a little in places, and there are moments when you'd like Hunter to look up from his personal story and tell us more about what was happening in the Metal world at the time (although the mini essays on such as Manowar and Guns'n'Roses make up for some of this) but these are minor gripes.
A bigger complaint is the awful quality of the paper and the pictures. Admittedly, many of Hunter's personal pictures are probably reproduced from surviving, crumpled 6x4s from Supasnaps, but even so it ought to have been possible to reproduce them so the reader can actually recognize the faces. I still don't really know what Seb Hunter looks like - which he quite possibly doesn't mind at all.
Anyway, read it. You may learn a little, but you'll laugh a lot.