Birth School Metallica Death Volume 1 by Paul Branigan & Ian Winwood


MetallicaI must preface this review by admitting that I am a fan of Metallica and I don’t imagine anyone who isn’t would want to read this biography.

As noted in the title, this is a review on Volume 1, with Volume 2 still to be released later this year. Volume 1 covers the conception of the band and its founding members through to the eve of the release of their self titled ‘Black Album’ in 1991, detailing changes in line-up along their journey. The book covers Metallica’s beginnings in LA, to San Francisco, New York and the wider world, and their musical influences including the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’. A short biography on each band member is included, along with their individual idiosyncrasies, and interesting and humorous anecdotes are peppered throughout.

Whilst some of the many details of concerts and recording can become a little monotonous, along with the quotes of Lars Ulrich in particular, and the volume contains the odd spelling and grammatical errors, this is still a fascinating and enlightening read.

The authors of the biography are both respected music journalists having written for Rolling Stone and Kerrang! magazines, to name a few.

The egos of the band members, along with their music, may not be to everyone’s taste but you can’t discredit Metallica’s longevity and business decisions. I am looking forward to the next instalment.

Publisher Synopsis

“Metallica are one of the biggest bands of all time. The California quartet have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, won nine Grammy Awards and had five consecutive albums hit number one on the US Billboard chart.

But theirs is a tale about much more than just sales figures and critical acclaim – and their journey from scuzzy Los Angeles garages to the world’s most famous stadiums has been both dramatic and painful.

Birth School Metallica Death is the definitive account of the ‘Led Zeppelin of their generation’. It’s a story about family, community, self-belief and the pursuit of dreams, which unfolds through first-hand interviews with the band and those closest to it.

Piece by piece, Paul Brannigal and Ian Winwood reveal just how Metallica have stayed ahead of the competition for so many years, and in Volume 1 – the first half of this epic story – they detail the band’s rise to international fame right up until the eve of the release of their seminal ‘Black Album’.”

ISBN: 9780571294145


A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

GoonSquadA Visit from the Goon Squad entails chapters which are told from the perspective of a variety of different characters. Each chapter could almost stand alone as a short story, however all of the characters intersect or are intertwined throughout. The connections between characters can be clear from the outset, or casually slipped in, but all comes full circle by the end of the book.

The novel spans continents and decades, not sequentially, but intricately linked. It focuses on the excesses of youth, the realities of adulthood, reflections of life and friendships, and the highs and lows throughout.

I found the book easy to read but still meaningful. I loved the music and pop culture references scattered throughout, along with her depiction of cities such as New York, San Francisco and Naples.

This novel won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize.

Publisher Synopsis

“A Visit from the Goon Squad vividly captures the moments where lives interact, and where fortunes ebb and flow. Egan depicts with elegant prose and often heart-wrenching simplicity, the sad consequences for those who couldn’t fake it during their wild youth – madness, suicide or prison – in this captivating, wryly humorous story of temptation and loss.”

ISBN: 9781780330969