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If You Like Metallica by Mike McPadden: A Review

June 10, 2012

I Can’t Remember Anything
Can’t Tell If this Is True or Dream
Deep down Inside I Feel to Scream
this Terrible Silence Stops Me
Now That the War Is Through with Me
I’m Waking up I Can Not See
That There Is Not Much Left of Me
Nothing Is Real but Pain Now

For me it was Rush. Cinderella Man opened a door in my head and in flooded the sounds that would define my musical tastes. It was 1988. Soon after I heard the first few notes of Queensryche’s Suite Sister Mary. Tate’s passionate pipes and DeGarmo’s signature compositions made Operation Mindcrime my very first CD purchase (along with Survivor’s When Seconds Count-some doors never close). Through the door followed Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery, Blind Guardian, Pain of Salvation, Rhapsody, Edguy, and so many more who have left their marks.

One of those visitors was Metallica (“…perfectly capturing rage and rapture among “dirtbags” and other factions of the disenfranchised”). During that same year, the year of my awakening, I heard the dark, atmospheric, visual feast that was Metallica’s One for the first time. The brooding lyrics, the pounding double bass drum, the themes of war, isolation, insanity, oppression, panic, and loss connected immediately with my sensibilities. The video, horrific and beautiful at once, could have been lifted right from the pages of Fangoria. The horror of Metallica’s vision was thrilling and One remains the definition of Metallica for me.

But to Mike McPadden, author of the new book, If You Like Metallica, Metallica is so much more. To McPadden, Metallica is metal. And he takes the reader through a comprehensive tour of all bands metal, from those that laid their hooks into the young men that would form Metallica to those young men who would aspire to become like Metallica.

McPadden’s encyclopedic knowledge of metal spans the last 50 years to provide the origins of so many metal forms. We learn about the origins of punk rock with the band MC5, “what they…started would flower a few years hence into punk rock and, with a few more detours, Metallica.” We discover the beginnings of black metal with McPadden’s section on The Monks, “Black metal begins with “Black Monk Time,” the compellingly repellant, freakishly brilliant 1965 album..” And when he introduces us to Hellhammer, we find they “…sparked the very specific inferno that would blaze across Europe into black metal and death metal.”

Mike McPadden’s If You Like Metallica plays connect the dots with heavy metal’s most famous band, providing a comprehensive education on the history of all things metal-lica. Ultimately, though, McPadden shares the evolution of Metallica from young men who loved music to rock legends who would forever change the future landscape of metal, and along the way, the world.

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