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A History of Heavy Metal

Narrated by: Andrew O'Neill
Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (140 ratings)

Regular price: £19.99

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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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Matthew
  • Wolverhampton, UK
  • 12-07-18

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It's HIS view of Heavy Metal, not necessarily mine

Would you try another book written by Andrew O'Neill or narrated by Andrew O'Neill?

Yes, possibly. I would have no preconceptions about that book, I'm sure.

What could Andrew O'Neill have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Well, nothing really, his view of metal and mine clearly differ, and the only reason I don't like the book is because it covers bands I'm not really interested in.

What does Andrew O'Neill bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Putting inflection on the words, I guess.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A History of Heavy Metal?

I'd have spent more time in the 1970s on the way the genre grew there. By chapter 2 he's into the 1980s and already talking about bands like Venom. I clearly think what he describes as rock bands are heavy metal and maybe that's the hook, but it's not really the subject matter I am interested in. Clearly if he wrote a book called "The history of hard rock" I'd be more keen.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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All hail to Metal 🤘

Really enjoyed it. Narration is great. The history goes way back to the roots of it all & it was super how he described the different styles of Metal through the years. Audiobook was of decent length & I still wanted more.

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Interesting, opinionated, thrash-heavy

This audiobook is like an extended one-man stand-up show. I think from the title I was expecting a more historically balanced, less personal take on the subject. The book reads at least to a large extent like an obsessive's categorisation of all the bands he likes and dislikes, and the minutiae of reasons why this is so. I was expecting more time dedicated to the classics (Maiden, Metallica, Megadeath, Sabbath, Priest, etc) and much less dedicated to thrash and offshoots of extreme metal sub-genres. It reads quite like a primer in black metal with nodding acknowledgements to influences. Which is fine. It's a personal book and that's my personal response to it. The author performs the book in an engaging way and there are plenty of laughs to be had.

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Hilarious audio book, a must for any metalheads.

Loved this audio book, so many funny things in it that any metal head will find amusing. Was also great to hear my good friends in the band Cancer get a mention at the end too. Nice one Andrew O'Neil, I look forward to more like this.

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So good, even Kim Kardashian would listen to it

Equally parts reverant, irrevant and fucking funny: Andrew delivers his trade mark humour from his stand up and stage performances.

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  • James McIver
  • 02-04-18

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Outpostlarry
  • 10-04-19

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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  • D. TRIPPLER
  • 05-04-19

I love this

This book kept my attention and cracked me up at times when I didn't agree with his opinion. I think thr time line for metal was well written and executed.

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  • Marisa Janke
  • 23-12-18

Fuck yeah

FUCKING stellar. -0.0001 star for unconvincing Quorthon impersonation, +several billion for smoothest burn on The Eagles of Death Metal. Weren’t they just touring with Mastodon? Chronos’ therapy session made me burst out laughing and frightened my coworkers with a revelation that I sometimes possess emotions.

This was so brilliant. Thank you kindly.

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  • Matt Moore
  • 29-11-18

Riveting and Rocking in Its Scope and Detail

Now I have to journey to see Andrew's live show! A superb memoir cum history if heavy metal from its subtle foundations to immense present. O'Neill leaves no stone unturned nor any band unscathed.

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  • Andrew Watkins
  • 19-07-18

awesome

Absolutely phenomenal performance by Andrew. The book had a good cover of all things metal from the beginning of time to today.

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  • Nancy Gardner
  • 18-07-18

Opinions Alert

See that? I warned you. Andrew O’Neil does not warn you - at least not in the title of this book. It should be called “My Opinions About Metal And Its History”. He knows a lot. Of course he does. His opinions about the taxonomy of the different genres ( I hate that word and thankfully he refrains from using it very much) are interesting, but highly critical of anyone who thinks otherwise. I can deal with that because he’s hilarious. I’m offended - and I’m 100% certain that it would make him very happy that I am- that he has a fairly anti-American attitude. I’m sick of that. I’m sick of people bashing my country while simultaneously extracting American dollars from its citizens. Other than that, the humor is worth the time spent.

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  • Perrin
  • 30-11-18

Dont bother listening

The guy reading is alright but the book I find extremely boring. So bad I've decided not to finish listening. Waste of money pretty disappointed ...

0 of 1 people found this review helpful