Duke University Press, 392 pages, trade paperback, $26.95
Metal Rules the Globe is a collection of essays written by university professors and ethnographers who are fascinated by the concept of heavy metal, but seem to have little to no passion for it. Some writers are better than others; there are a few who are attached to the topic, but there others who write in circles and never really reach a cohesive point.
I find the material in this book to be quite dull; reading it feels more like homework than recreation. It takes away all the thrill of the metal genre and breaks it down into academic terms, using advanced vocabulary, citations, and notes at the end of each chapter. The introduction is especially tedious, as it describes heavy metal in lengthy detail, as if the reader has never heard of the music. The book becomes slightly more engaging after the introduction, as the various writers concentrate on specific countries and/or bands. Segments of band interviews and photographs are sometimes introduced, but only as a means to prove a thesis.
What the reader gets out of Metal Rules the Globe largely depends on which issues truly interest him or her. For example, I flipped apathetically through the chapters on politics, culture, heritage, and religion, but when I reached the portion of the book focusing on the relation of racism and extreme metal (especially Sharon Hochhauser’s essay on hatecore), I was glued to the page.
If you want to learn about the globalization of metal, then watch the documentary Global Metal by Sam Dunn, a die-hard metal fan who travels the world to interview metal bands from third-world countries. The film is great because the viewers are able to hear the music and see the bands play. Metal Rules the Globe tries to describe the sight and sound in writing, but instead produces lengthy, repetitive paragraphs that would make the average metalhead yawn.