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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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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 2 people found this review helpful

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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!

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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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A BIAST history of heavy metal

What did you like most about A History of Heavy Metal?

You'll learn all about heavy metal's origins by listening to this book, with plenty of facts, cited quotes and points of references. The book cannot be accused of being what it isn't: an overall thesis on the surrounding phenomenon of metal - it describes itself as a "history". However, it is perhaps credit to the author that I would have happily spent longer enjoying his entertaining, non-academic prose; albeit I wanted to know more about the scene generally and less about his personal opinions specifically.

O'Neill mentions several times that the book is adapted from his live stand-up show. With the book having been performed by the author, we are treated to some most entertaining impersonations of Paul MacCartney etc. I'm sure O'Neill's stand-up show is very funny, but "A History of Heavy Metal" is not funny enough to be described as a comedy book. He was wise not to title it "A Hilarious History of Heavy Metal".

O'Neill is eager to assert his metal credentials by only liking the coolest bands, and has no time for all this nu-metal rubbish. I was disappointed to hear the dismissive contempt which the author had for nu-metal and all that followed after 1998. Nu-metal was mostly cynical, lazy and misogynistic but the diversification that occurred as a result of the nu-metal was sadly barely addressed.

All criticism aside, I must admit I couldn't put it down. This is essential reading for all metalheads.

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  • Paul
  • bedford, United Kingdom
  • 14-04-18

brilliant

having seen Andrew do the stand up version of this it was a no brainer to get the book. loved every minute of it. Andrews narration is a joy to listen to. highly recommended.

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Essential for metalheads

Great book, hilariously read by the author. This is essential reading for all metalheads and though you may not agree with all his opinions or taste in bands, the facts and history are a solid narrative that all metallers should know about. Also, he keeps mentioning Panopticon, so check them out. Kentucky is a great album. Fuck Whitesnake.

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An amazingly entertaining history book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely. It very interesting, educational and entertaining at the same time.

What did you like best about this story?

The narration. It's not usual dry read. It was read by the author himself and it made the whole narration feel alive, like listening to a radio show.

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

His personality through his voice. His honest reactions can't be replicated through writing alone.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

This is a book that I will probably listen multiple time.

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Heavy Metal Excellence

Even the introduction to this book had me laughing, and I’m a miserable sod.
I am however a Heavy Metal fan and this book is just brilliant, intelligent and funny. If you like guitars and possibly have long hair you’ll love it.

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Fascinating listening

Despite some of the more idiotic jokes that lingered a little too long, this book was very entertaining and eye opening. Metal nerds will enjoy, and undoubtedly have their own ideas of what they consider true heavy metal. If you like the genre listen to enlighten yourself and have something more to debate with mates over a beer or two.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 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.