HELL BENT FOR LEATHER: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict

Seb Hunter, Author . Fourth Estate $26.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-06-072292-0

In the mold of Chuck Klosterman's cult hit Fargo Rock City , Hunter brings a British accent to this exploration of the pop cultural phenomenon of heavy metal music and culture. Mixing his memories of small-town England with an encyclopedic knowledge of heavy metal, Hunter creates a book that, thanks to its combination of poignancy and hilarity, is as infectious as a well-crafted power ballad. Hunter's earnest take on the usual who's who of the metal world (Anthrax: "They were the U2 of Metal") is dead-on, but he truly shines when he goes the extra mile to give the unwritten rules that heavy metal bands and their fans must follow (true metal bands must release a double live album; "When it comes to coats you chose between two: denim or leather"). And not only does Hunter know the rules, he follows them too as he teaches himself the guitar and grows his hair long. Despite starting metal band after metal band (from Armageddon's Ring to Cat Ballou), his ill-fated attempts to follow in his heroes' footsteps never reach the heights of his rock and roll dreams. Finally, as years of believing in the fantasy world of heavy metal collide with the responsibilities and truths of the real world, Hunter must decide if the "rock and roll all nite and party every day" lifestyle is really for him. Given his love of Kurt Cobain and inclusion of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti as a top five metal album of all time, true metalhead readers will have a great time disagreeing with some of Hunter's observations. Everyone else who reads this book will just have a great time. Photos. Agent, Neil Taylor. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-00-716176-8
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-06-072293-7
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