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The Merciless Book Of Metal Lists

MercilessBookOfMetalListsLists.  Love ’em or hate ’em (personally I’m of the latter school of thought), they seem to be an inescapable fact of life.  Subjective as they are, they are ubiquitous:  “what’s you’re top ten favourite metal albums?”, “who are your top five best guitarists?”, “what’s your favourite list of lists?”.   Just fuck off will you, and let me listen to the music I love without having to rank it in some inane, meaningless exercise…

Which brings me, somewhat trepiditously, to the subject of this review – a volume in which former A&R guru Howie Abrams and writer Sacha Jenkins have pulled together what could be regarded as an homage to the “cult of the list” – a collection of numerical rankings of almost every conceivable aspect of the metal genre.

Quite a few of the lists quoted here – both by the authors and by guest contributors including Max Cavalera, ‘That Metal Show’ host Eddie Trunk, Hoya Roc of Madball and NWOBHM legend John Gallagher – are as predictable as they are mundane: is it a surprise that ‘Black Sabbath’ comes out as the top heavy metal album, Tony Iommi as the best guitarist and Geezer Butler as the best bassist (especially when the authors admit at the very beginning of the book that they’re huge Sabs fans)?

There are some hysterical lists – such as ’10 Accomplishments Iron Maiden Would Never Have Achieved Had Paul Di-Anno Remained Their Singer’, which is as vicious as it is accurate, or Danny Lilker’s ‘Best iTunes Playlist To Set On Repeat For A Drive Of Eight Hours or Longer’, which comes with the simple caveat that “this should total around eleven seconds of playtime”, the awesome ’10 Reasons Dave Mustaine Probably Declined To Participate In This Book’ and the totally classic ‘A Hipster’s Guide To Metal T-Shirts’.

My favourite contributions, however, are Brian Slagel’s enlightening ‘Top 10 Obscure Metal Blade Records Facts’, the completely daft ’15 Metal Album Covers Featuring Goats’, the equally daft ’10 Observations Form Lemmy’s Warts’ and the genius ‘The Very Best Qualities Of Metallica’s Load And Reload Albums’, which is two blank pages with the simple ‘Nuff said’ at the bottom of the second one…

All in all, a diverting little volume.  By no stretch of the imagination  an essential read for any heavy metal fan, but if you’re of a certain age (such as myself) and you’re looking for an entertaining and irreverent little suggestion by which your beloved brats could show their love and respect this coming Father’s Day, then I think there’s still a few copies left on a certain online website which shares its name with a South American river (other retail outlets are also available, of course)…


About Mark Ashby

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