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In Through the Out Door

bangyourhead.jpgDavid Konow's book Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal was originally released in 2002, and published by Three Rivers Press.

When I first saw the book, I was optimistic despite the bad title. After all, where had metal fallen? It's true that you should never judge a book by its cover, so I decided to give the text a shot.

At first glance, it seems Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal would be the authoritative text on metal music. Oh, how I was wrong.

Throughout 386 pages, Konow fails to weave a common theme or even stick with one tense, two hallmarks of basic writing. Furthermore, Konow was a writer for Guitar World magazine, so he should know a thing or two about journalistic principles. The book is full of inaccuracies and half-stories, leaving the reader without an appropriate context in which to understand a key moment in a respective career.

Konow also glosses over some major moments in metal history, dismissing larger bands and spending an inordinate amount of time on artists that arguably didn't do much to further the specific music genre. For example, he spends nearly an entire chapter on Alice  Cooper, but jumps around so much the reader is left with more questions than answers about the shock rocker's placement in music history. Did Cooper ever get sober? Why is he such a golf junkie? What bands did Alice Cooper influence? Konow does a poor job explaining these key questions, paramount to setting up the 1980s metal scene.

Ah, the 1980s.

The music of glam, of Hollywood rock, of sleaze, sex and drugs. I'll give Konow credit in that a large hunk of the book is dedicated to the L.A. scene, but he still fails to capture the urgency of the movement. If you want to explain how everything came together to form a perfect storm, then you need to explain how radio stations switched formats, how magazines dedicated to metal popped-up all over the country, and how merchandising went hand in hand with MTV. Konow tries to accomplish this, but sadly falls short. Maybe if he'd spent more time outlining his work before writing, his history of the genre would be more complete, and less frantic.

I can usually devour a 400 page book in two days. This text took me two weeks to finish, mainly because I grew weary of Konow's poor sentence structure, bad grammar and failure to tell a cohesive story. The end of the book is just as cheesy as the beginning as there is no look to the future of metal music, only a sad look at the past.




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