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Publisher's Summary

Based on the "absolutely hilarious" (Neil Gaiman) stand-up show.

The history of heavy metal brings us extraordinary stories of larger-than-life characters living to excess, from the household names of Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Iron Maiden and Metallica to the brutal notoriety of the underground Norwegian black metal scene and the New Wave of British heavy metal.

It is the story of a worldwide network of rabid fans escaping everyday mundanity through music, of cutthroat corporate arseholes ripping off those fans and the bands they worship to line their pockets. The expansive pantheon of heavy metal musicians includes junkies, Satanists and murderers, born-again Christians and teetotallers, stadium-touring billionaires and toilet-circuit journeymen.

Award-winning comedian and lifelong heavy metal obsessive Andrew O'Neill has performed his History of Heavy Metal comedy show to a huge range of audiences, from the teenage metalheads of Download festival to the broadsheet-reading theatregoers of the Edinburgh Fringe. Now, in his first book, he takes us on his own very personal and hilarious journey through the history of the music, the subculture and the characters who shaped this most misunderstood genre of music.

©2017 Andrew O'Neill (P)2017 Headline Audiobooks

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What listeners say about A History of Heavy Metal

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A History of Heavy Metal

This is the funniest and most engaging history book you will ever encounter. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a die hard metal fan (that’s a lie, you SHOULD be) or a boring drone that loves radio music, this audio book is for you. The wealth of knowledge provided will inspire you, the humour will make you gag on your morning coffee, and the fact that you are supporting a dude that lives and breathes metal will make you a star.
BUY THIS BOOK NOW!

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Opinionated but worthwhile

Less a history of heavy metal and more a list of why the author likes specific bands; unfortunately mostly of the cookie monster variety. Starts strong but feels rushed towards the end. Attempts to justify Metallica's shittier albums give an indication of what the reader is in for. Clever and funny at times.

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The Heavy Metal New Testament

An absolute must for any metal fan or anyone with a passing interest in the greatest musical movement in existence. For scene veterans, the story is not new, but the brilliant delivery & authors personal insights give it a breath of fresh fire. Sit down Lars!!

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Brilliant

Very enjoyable. A must listen for all metalheads and the narration is hilarious. A proper insight into the foundations of the best genre ever made

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Brilliant!

Thank you for a very entertaining and thoughtful book about the history of Heavy Metal! Recommended!

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Hilarious,

I might not agree with all his opinions, but I loved hearing every word. Sit down lars!

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False name for the book

Book is called “A History of Heavy Metal”
Though what we get is a Trans Vegan Pom giving his/her view on all the bands he she hates. It’s incredibly bias, so much hatred on genres and bands. Seems the only bands he she likes is a handful of bands from the 80s, and one or two after. Everything is insulted and told if we like it, we are shit.
I live and breathe heavy metal, and love more of it then I dislike. I’ve read and watched countless documentary’s on the actual history of metal. This is one sided from an elitist wining Pom and was a painful struggle to get to the end. Also apparently he she is a comedian and brags this, though not once makes a funny joke or reference, unfortunately he she tries this every 30 seconds and it’s irritating as hell.
Don’t waste your time

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  • Nick
  • 10-04-2019

Entertaining but very Biased

This book details the time line of Heavy metal very well. It’s very entertaining however the author is extremely biased. Most of the book is spent on the beginning of what he calls metal and it’s very very detailed on the stuff he likes (black metal, death metal, British punk rock) anything that was recorded after 1999 is just glanced and skipped over. He mentions pretty popular modern metal bands and either calls them sh!t or passes right over them. I liked the book it kept me entertained but I would’ve liked it to be a bit more comprehensive on a lot more bands than just the ones he liked.

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  • James McIver
  • 02-04-2018

An excellent choice to learn more about metal

Very engaging and fun. The author is at his best when approaching the subgenres he loves most, but his history remains relatively broad and he does a good job of at the very least briefly touching upon any bands that were influential in the broader genre, whether he enjoyed them or not. I learned about a lot of bands I'd never heard of before, and now expect to have listening material the length of this book many times over. Some people may disagree with his opinions (they're generally pretty fair and rooted in skepticism over the commercialization of music), but unless you are extremely thin-skinned and opinionated about metal already, I very highly recommend you buy this audio book. Otherwise, I only highly recommend it.

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  • Sam Saalfeld
  • 20-09-2021

Completely hilarious

I’ve read the print copy of this book before, but listening to it the whole thing to experience it again was certainly time well spent. It caused me to go back and dig through my record collection and rediscover my favorite groups again. This is certainly a must read or must listen to for anyone who is a fan of heavier music

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  • Jennifer H. Kowalski
  • 03-09-2021

This is an amazing book

I ❤️ this book. It is amazing. I do wish that it would have talked more about prog, but that’s ok. The author is also funny. I would recommend this book to any metal fan.

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  • Max M.
  • 09-07-2021

Entertaining but incomplete

I enjoyed this a lot, but there is a lot of stuff missing. The author focuses heavily on proto, classical/heavy, death, and black metal from the 60s through the 90s, but barely dives into anything from the 2000s or 2010s, except to bash some stuff. That gives it a "BACK IN MY DAY THINGS WERE GOOD EVERYTHING MODERN SUCKS" boomer vibe, which is probably not the intention, as there are loads of good modern death (not core!), black, neo-trad, etc bands the author would probably like, but they're left out. I would have loved to hear about the development of prog, power, and other subgenres.

Still the bits that are there are well read and entertaining to hear, and I understand it's a passion project. Perhaps the author just isn't interested enough in that stuff to really do an accurate deep dive. Overall a fun listen if you don't overanalyze like I did (maybe that's why I like prog...)

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  • Brian D Helms
  • 10-05-2021

worth it on so many levels

Worth it on so many levels. Informative. Funny. and the delivery by the author / comedian / metal band member is exceptional.

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  • kyle kegley
  • 29-04-2021

Hilarious and eloquent.

The narrator and author O'Neill is knowledgeable and witty. Recommended for beginners and veterans of metal.

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  • Chris Lane
  • 20-03-2021

Of all the books why does this have to be 10 hrs and Atlas Shrugged 62 (plus free to plussers)

My Favorite bands not mentioned are Mortification, Downside, Celldweller, Overkill, Saboton, Body Count, and Thrice

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-04-2020

A funny and opinionated look into metal history

The book could be reviewed as two separate parts that make the whole; the comedy and the history. The comedy should deliver for those who enjoy the dry and sarcastic British approach to comedic delivery. I found the author to generally be rather funny and likeable, and his reading of the work is very excitable and engaging. The historic aspect of the book is quite solid, though one could argue it does seem to be slightly imbalanced in some parts. I was quite surprised that Iron Maiden for instance was merely breezed by as a side notion of the NWOBHM timeline, where as some other sub-genres (particularly death and black metal) receive considerable attention. As a friend of extreme metal, this was not too much of an issue for me, but this could be disappointing for some listeners.

As is mentioned in many of the reviews, the author certainly doesn't shy away from making his own views heard in the book. This may be an issue to some, but I mainly thought it brought more flavour to the text. If you are looking for an entertaining look into metal history filled with comedic personal stories and anecdotes, this one is for you.

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  • Harry P.
  • 04-04-2020

A MUST READ FOR METAL HEADS

I gave this book a 5-star review. It's funny, highly entertaining and well written. I'm 46-years old and a life long metal head. Andrew O'Neill does a phenomenal job looking back through the origins of heavy metal and beyond. He even introduced me to bands I had never heard of and I have added them to my play lists. Let me say this: he is biased towards Death Metal / Black Metal. He seems to skirt past the fact these bands paint their face, live with their parents / grandparents and sell a significantly smaller amount of music. If the vocals sounds like a painful colonoscopy, he seems to adore the band and lavish them with praise, even if a dozen people have purchased their album. Know that going in and all is well. I still love this book - I have the written and audible versions. - Harry Psaros

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  • Sean Barnham
  • 03-08-2017

Yes.

Andrew O'Neill is an excellent comic and evidently a great writer too. I loved the live show when I saw it a few years ago so I'm very happy that this massively expanded version exists.
I found it difficult to stop listening to it when I had to sleep or go for a shower or talk to people. I've finished it now but have a head full of smashing recommendations to keep me busy for ages and ages and I'll probably just put it on again tonight.
I don't expect I can swear here even though swearing is great and clever, so I shall finish by saying that I enjoyed the darn heck out of this book. Ten out of ten supportive death metal parents.

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  • Steve O'Neill
  • 21-07-2017

THE BIG 4!

If you could sum up A History of Heavy Metal in three words, what would they be?

YES! This book does tick those 4 boxes:

Funny? TICK!
Informative? TICK!
Modern? TICK!
Cool? TICK!

(I hope no one has confused my headline, with the other 'headline' of the Big 4 because that would be both unfortunate, sad and worrying).

This book is literally the best book on this subject, and indeed many other subjects.

What other book might you compare A History of Heavy Metal to, and why?

I might compare it to Society of the Spectacle as the cover of this book is black and red, and the book 'Society of the Spectacle' is published by Black and Red.

But I won't.

What about Andrew O'Neill’s performance did you like?

The 'asides'. Made it come alive.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A History of Heavy Metal - Why the Midlands is important.

Any additional comments?

Brilliant stuff!

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  • T.FM
  • 12-12-2019

Sceptical at first but won me over.

To be clear, you are not going to agree with at least 50% of this work, but it's a well thought out and well positioned option, backed up with a lot of interesting fact. It's also very, very amusing, with a fair few (public transport cautionary) laugh out loud moments. Andrew is right, we are an opinionated bunch, and given that, I have to concede that I have come out of this experience, not just entertained, but also a little wiser. I still think Black Metal is shit mind, BUT I have made an internal commitment to actually listen to more than the first 30 seconds of a few tracks so I can maybe rebalance that bias a little.

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  • Matthew
  • 12-07-2018

Heavy Metal's Genesis (no not them!)

....and blues begat the Beatles, and the Beatles begat Black Sabbath, and Black Sabbath begat Judas Priest, and Judas Priest were betrothed unto Punk and begat the NWOBHM, and NWOBHM begat Venom and Thrash and Venom begat Black Metal and....you get the idea.

Too much of this book is lists of bands I've never heard of, that the author is mainly keen to recommend. There are cheaper and quicker ways of getting a recommended listening list.

What of course an audio version of this book is absolutely screaming out for is some samples of the music he's talking about - there are none. Presumably for licensing reasons, but it's a big missed opportunity.

To be fair, there's a lot more humour than that, and the book is at its best making fun of the more ludicrous personalities of heavy metal.

The author has a strong preference for death metal and black metal, and generally the extreme end of the genre. It's quite funny (unintentionally) when he's trying to reconcile his painfully right-on liberal left, vegan sensibilities with the politics and subject matter of his favourite bands - be they nazis, sadists, murderers in their real life, or just general obsessives about torture and death in their music. I mean, I'm a thrash fan but it takes a bit of effort now I'm also a grown up to listen to Slayer's Reign in Blood without feeling a bit queasy. And I'm given to understand that compared to some death metal, Slayer are tastefully restrained in comparison.

The author also basically dismisses anything more mainstream than thrash after 1982 as 'shit' apart from maybe Guns n' Roses who might be just about listenable. Glam metal in particular he abhors and excoriates (Excoriator - good name for a band?) mainly because apparently they put pursuit of fame, wealth, women and drugs above making good music. Maybe they did, but there was also some pretty good heavy metal music that came out of that scene, and it seems hypocritical to criticise those bands for their motivation whilst at the same time giving a free pass to death and black metal bands whose motivation was in some cases actually genuinely evil.

Overall, an amusing listen in parts, but skewed towards death and black metal, and too many boring lists of bands.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M Thomas
  • 23-08-2017

Death to all but metal

An entertaining romp through my nostalgia which has lead to me using one of those new fangled things to listen to some stuff I'd missed during my "grown up" years (now behind me)

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  • Colin
  • 24-07-2017

Dull thrash fan has a rant

Lasted to chapter 10 gave up!
This isn't written/read by a metal fan it's told by a thrash metal devotee with no love for anything else. I was happy to be taken along for the ride but it was so negative, shared no joy and argued it's case like a petulant teenager. I might have identified with this when I was 15 but 30 yrs later ... no thanks but waste of time

7 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher P Girling
  • 15-08-2021

A good romp through my favourite genre of music.

I loved listening to this book, being a heavy metal fan since the 1970's and over many recent years, a fan of extreme metal and death gospel, this was entertaining as well as insightful.

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  • DG
  • 21-07-2021

Metal evolution explained, mocked and celebrated

All those band family trees from the 70s and 80s that I knew from top to bottom, brought bang up to date to include all of the fractured sub-genres and the bands that forged them in a well organised, engaging and entertaining audiobook

Really enjoyed it (but then, the subject matter is mine 🙂)

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  • PM
  • 11-07-2021

Not as funny as he thinks he is.

While this is, as other reviews have said, quite amusing and informative, it has the air of someone who thinks they’re a lot funnier than they are. Over eight hours or so, the smart-arsery is tiring. The sneering early on in the book at the legendary Jon Lord over the inaccurate assertion that “he had a bust of Beethoven on his piano” made me sceptical about a lot of his other judgements too.

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  • jordan david crago
  • 26-04-2021

Excellent!

It's highly informative. I've been a metalhead all my life, but listening to this book made me realise that I was missing out on so many bands and genres. Whenever he mentioned a band or genre that I was unfamiliar with, I paused the book, went onto Spotify, and gave them a listen. I've discovered so many awesome bands reading this book and my music listening has been very much enriched. It's also bloody funny, so I discovered an awesome comedian too. As some of the other commenters have noted, you'll find equal parts fact and opinion. I don't agree with all of his opinions -- he loves Thrash and Black Metal, and to be honest I don't -- but his deeply negative attitude towards Glam and Nu Metal is something I very much associate with. But if you like those genres, then just don't take his opinions personally -- they're JUST his opinions. You'll still learn about these genres' histories and the influences that formed them. For example, I got the sense that he finds Progressive Metal pretentious. I love Prog and I don't agree with him, but my feelings weren't hurt -- it's JUST his opinion. Because of my love of Prog, I was delighted to discover Post Metal, which he talks about towards the end of the book. Overall, I couldn't stop listening and I was genuinely sad when it ended. Excellent book!

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