"some music was meant to stay underground..."

"The Big Shiny Prison" (Book)

 - "The Big Shiny Prison" Book cover image

Reviewed by on October 26, 2010

"Whether telling tales of travel, discussing art with fellow musicians, or interviewing random (often shady) characters, the author sticks with the message of 'time is precious-make it happen-make it happen now!'"

"The Big Shiny Prison" by Ryan Bartek is essentially a travel diary from 2006 into 2007 of a man that jumped on a Greyhound bus and traveled across America interviewing metal bands. Essentially, this is true, but there is much more. Bartek, in the style of Jack Kerouac and tone of Hunter S. Thompson, takes the reader into a mental journey pleading for everyone to “Wake Up!” and “Live for The Moment!” Formerly in the band, A.K.A. Mabus, Bartek left his band to write this book, but is now working on a new acoustic album under the alias Jack Cassidy. Other aliases the author uses include GhostNomad and Clownfuehrer. If all of this seems interesting and at the same time a lot to take in, well, welcome to "The Big Shiny Prison."

Bartek is a big believer in DIY: Do It Yourself, many of his examples of DIY come from bands that have become successful with this model, utilizing the digital age to create, enhance, and sell their art. Examples of successful bands discussed include Lamb of God and Mastodon as well as interviews with more underground type bands like Waco Jesus, 7000 Dying Rats, Pig Destroyer, and the list goes on. These examples show the side most don’t associate with the metal music scene and that is that these bands are not all drug addicted devil worshippers, but rather artists honing their craft, and talented musicians competing to survive in a saturated industry where the word promotion means anything the band does. Although it is not written, the author despises the way some bands still today will put out a demo tape and then sit on their asses, hoping their song receives air play. It’s a new day, the digital age. Promote yourself. Get off your asses and DIY!

"The Big Shiny Prison" at times strays away from the band interviews, for example, Bartek finds himself interviewing a Columbine survivor, noting that the particular student was a punk music lover, not just another redneck many associate the parts of the U.S. not touching the ocean. Whether telling tales of travel, discussing art with fellow musicians, or interviewing random (often shady) characters, the author sticks with the message of "time is precious-make it happen-make it happen now!"

"The Big Shiny Prison" is available for free download here.

Highs: The experience of Bartek’s travels, both physically and mentally.

Lows: Bartek has so much to say that at times his thoughts become scrambled, forcing you to step back, take a deep breath, and read again.

Bottom line: The Big Shiny Prison is for followers of the underground metal scene, Kerouac-esque travel readers, and those searching for a positive light of motivation.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)