Hell bent for Leather

April 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm (Literature, metal and hardrock, music)

I just finished a book I borrowed from a friend, called “Hell bent for Leather – Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict”. Sounds promising, eh? The sleeve says that the author was a metal fan for about 15 years “and he is not proud of it”. Sounds like the guy stopped listening to metal at some point, eh? And he did.

The books starts pretty promising – how the author heard his first metal song (by AC/DC) at the age of 10, how he came to listen to all the classic metal bands, how he started one band after the other with other guys. His autobiography is sprinkled with metal journalism – chapters on various types of metal, on guitars, on when to play a solo, on how to behave at a festival like Donington. It’s all there. The only problem I had with this book is this: The guy’s a poser.

Let me explain that. First he encounters AC/DC and declares them to be his favourite band (nothing wrong with that). He tries to get a hold on every AC/DC album out there. Then, he discovers Iron Maiden – favourite band, yay! After that – Kiss (nothing wrong with THAT at all, mind you). Favourite band, again. See the pattern? The guy switches favourite bands just in the same way other people change their underwear every day. Throughout the book, he keeps alluding to Nirvana – specifically Kurt Cobain – having killed Heavy Metal. He tells us about his wild youth, how he dropped out of college, how he started to take drugs, how he moved to London to become a Glam Rocker.

Most of the time, the book’s pretty entertaining to read, and some parts had me laughing out loud – for example the chapter on keyboards: “If Lemmy saw a keyboard, he’d vomit. Slayer couldn’t even pronounce the word, let alone plug one in.” That’s just hilarious – when reading it I pictured Tom Araya and Kerry King struggling with the word “keyboard” and trying to plug one in. That’s the good stuff this book is made off.

However, there are downfalls. The author goes on and on about how to behave at a festival (in this case: Monsters of Rock at Donington) – and at the same time admits he’s never been to Donington at all. In fact, the only metal concerts featuring in this book – the only two concerts the guy ever saw, it seems – are Ozzy Osbourne, supported by Ratt, and Guns ‘n’ Roses. That’s not much – not for a metal addict, right? Also, the guy falls in love with Glam Metal – nothing wrong with that, I love it as well, but throughout the second half of the book, he keeps going on and on about how Glam Metal bands should look like and how he tried to become a Glam Metal God himself. Then, Nirvana come along – and he accuses them of killing metal. Hey guy, wake up! The only thing that died in the 1990s was Glam Metal – real metal (like AC/DC, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the lot) did survive until today. Didn’t you notice?!?

The worst part for me were the last chapters. He describes a documentary about metal, featuring guys like Lemmy from Motörhead, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from Kiss etc. – guys in their 50s by the time. And he claims THAT THESE GUYS WERE RIDICULOUS AND EMBARRASSING!!! Come on! You claimed to be the greatest Kiss fan on earth earlier on and all of a sudden you think Simmons and Stanley are embarrassing?

It becomes worse after that. Even though he constantly accuses Nirvana resp. Kurt Cobain to have killed metal, he admits he actually loved them.   The ultimate moment that convinced me this guy was a poser was when he stated that he actually turned away from metal because it was dying and that Primal Scream were a lot better.  He had, in other words, “grown up” and become a square. Nothing more, nothing less. “Oh, it was just a phase, I’m mature now” – not in the book but that’s the gist.

As I said, the book starts very promising and is very entertaining to read – most of the times. During the second half, it deteriorates simply because the guy doesn’t seem believable any more. He’s switching favourite bands all the time. He’s never been to a metal festival. He’s seen only two metal bands live. He has a lot of knowledge as far as metal is concerned. Still. He’s a poser. And guess what? Grunge is dead. Metal is not.

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