Monday, 18 July 2011

Book Review: From The Minds Of Madness - The Origins Of Heavy Metal Band Names, by Blair E. Gibson (2011)


A self-published book, From The Minds Of Madness tracks down the name origins of more than 340 heavy metal bands. Author Blair Gibson contacted thousands of heavy metal bands from around the world, requesting the story of how they came up with their name. Although many did not respond, hundreds did, and those responses appear in the book, seemingly verbatim and attributed to the specific band member who provided the response.

This being a non-publishing house effort (lulu.com will print and mail the book once a copy is ordered and paid for), the production values are rudimentary at best, with the Ace Black Blog copy arriving complete with what appears to be a graphics mis-print of the title on the front cover, typos, and the lack of any editorial oversight to improve the professionalism of the project. For example, there is a table of contents, which would have been somewhat helpful had the pages of the book had numbers on them. Band names that start with "The" are listed under "T". This is a home-made labour of love, with all the oddities that come with such initiatives.

As can be expected, better known, well established bands who may have answered the name question in grander settings are less likely to respond, so the majority of the outfits included in the book are the lesser lights and more obscure members of the metal community, the never-quite-made-it groups, the maybe-will-make-it bands, and the still-hoping-against-hope-to-make-it die hards. The more familiar bands that make it into the book include Armored Saint, Galactic Cowboys, Hammerfall, The Haunted, Jag Panzer, My Dying Bride (who also contribute a Foreward), Nightrage, and Raven.

The responses range from six short words (Burning Witch, helpfully informing us that they were "named after the sound of suffering"), to six long paragraphs (Virgin Steele, going on and on - and on - insisting that they are all about opposites).

In browsing through what the bands had to say, a few common themes emerge: being rushed to come up with a name ahead of the first serious concert; using the inspiration from the song of another band to come up with a band name; the old draw-the-name-from-the-hat trick; and the ever popular listing of candidate words and mashing two of them together to create a name. Many bands faced the frustration of having to change their name after discovering that some other even more obscure group already had first call on their initial favourite choice.

Rather than a cover to cover read, From The Minds Of Madness is a book to dip into at any random page for a brief distraction and maybe a smile. It's not a book that the world was actually crying for, but it sheds some fun light into the more obscure corners of the metal world.





138 pages.
Available from www.lulu.com.

All Ace Black Blog Book Reviews are here.

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