"Heavy Metal Thunder" Book To Hit Stores June 1
Band Photo: Judas Priest (?)
A few years back, metal journalists James Sherry (Metal Hammer, Kerrang!) and Neil Aldis (Rock World, Terrorizer) decided to sift through their record collections and put the best of the bunch into coffee-table-book form. That spawned "Heavy Metal Thunder," an extensive archive of the most kick-ass metal-album art of the last four decades, set to land in bookstores June 1.
According to Sherry, the book's intended to guide lifelong metalheads down memory lane — a time when you'd buy an LP based solely on the image that graced the sleeve, a time when ridiculous album covers were a genuine art form.
"We wanted the book to be entertaining for people who aren't necessarily into metal," he said. "I wanted it to appeal to people who are really heavily into the music and can look through the book and go, 'Oh, I remember that record — I had it when I was a kid.' ... But we also wanted it to appeal to people who have no interest in the music and can look through it and go, 'These covers are hilarious.' We're not afraid to poke fun at it."
The book's documents everything from the earliest days of groundbreaking bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest through today's current class of metallers, like Mastodon and High on Fire. The book covers all the bases, with chapters devoted to black metal, death metal, nü metal, thrash, stoner rock and glam rock. There's even a forward penned by Anthrax's Scott Ian and an interview with Derek Riggs, the man who created Iron Maiden's symbolic Eddie icon.
"We were originally going to do each chapter in a different theme," Sherry explained. "We were going to have a chapter of all covers that just featured men with swords, which there are many. It's an ongoing theme in old metal records. We wanted a whole chapter on glam-rock covers, fantasy covers, ridiculous covers — even covers with babes on them. That became way too complicated, so we decided to do it genre by genre."
Several chapters are devoted to specific bands that've become known for their album imagery. "One of the first things we decided was that we had to give Manowar their own chapter," he said. "With this book, you get a taste for the imagery of each genre. I just think that metal, more than any other music, is very visually led. As a child, I would often buy records on the strength of the album cover, on how metal the cover looked. That doesn't happen anymore. Kids can hear stuff before they buy it."
One of the more amusing chapters is the one that examines the punk-inflected thrash era. "I love the thrash covers because it's all pre-computers, and these bands would have a friend who would say, 'Hey, I could draw you a picture for your cover,' " Sherry said. "That's why there was so much drawn artwork on those sleeves, and some of it's just terrible, but brilliantly funny as well."
Several album covers were cut from the book, including Marduk's 1995 masterpiece, F--- Me Jesus, and Autopsy's 2003 album, Sh--fun.
But Sherry's favorite album cover, and one of the first that readers encounter in "Heavy Metal Thunder"? "I love the first Black Sabbath album cover, because I think that one's genuinely creepy. You kind of look at it, and it's genuinely a quite scary album cover," he said. "I like a lot of the black-metal covers, too, because there's just something a bit creepier about them that's genuinely quite scary, whereas it's hard to get too scared by men with swords."
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