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Publisher's Summary

Based on the "absolutely hilarious" (Neil Gaiman) stand-up show.

The history of heavy metal brings us extraordinary stories of larger-than-life characters living to excess, from the household names of Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Iron Maiden and Metallica to the brutal notoriety of the underground Norwegian black metal scene and the New Wave of British heavy metal.

It is the story of a worldwide network of rabid fans escaping everyday mundanity through music, of cutthroat corporate arseholes ripping off those fans and the bands they worship to line their pockets. The expansive pantheon of heavy metal musicians includes junkies, Satanists and murderers, born-again Christians and teetotallers, stadium-touring billionaires and toilet-circuit journeymen.

Award-winning comedian and lifelong heavy metal obsessive Andrew O'Neill has performed his History of Heavy Metal comedy show to a huge range of audiences, from the teenage metalheads of Download festival to the broadsheet-reading theatregoers of the Edinburgh Fringe. Now, in his first book, he takes us on his own very personal and hilarious journey through the history of the music, the subculture and the characters who shaped this most misunderstood genre of music.

©2017 Andrew O'Neill (P)2017 Headline Audiobooks

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What listeners say about A History of Heavy Metal

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Decent but...

when I started this book I was expecting it to have more diversity to it and not be 90% about black metal. it would be nice if there was some audio of the Bands he speaks of and hates and loves.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nick
  • 2019-04-10

Entertaining but very Biased

This book details the time line of Heavy metal very well. It’s very entertaining however the author is extremely biased. Most of the book is spent on the beginning of what he calls metal and it’s very very detailed on the stuff he likes (black metal, death metal, British punk rock) anything that was recorded after 1999 is just glanced and skipped over. He mentions pretty popular modern metal bands and either calls them sh!t or passes right over them. I liked the book it kept me entertained but I would’ve liked it to be a bit more comprehensive on a lot more bands than just the ones he liked.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sam Saalfeld
  • 2021-09-20

Completely hilarious

I’ve read the print copy of this book before, but listening to it the whole thing to experience it again was certainly time well spent. It caused me to go back and dig through my record collection and rediscover my favorite groups again. This is certainly a must read or must listen to for anyone who is a fan of heavier music

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jennifer H. Kowalski
  • 2021-09-03

This is an amazing book

I ❤️ this book. It is amazing. I do wish that it would have talked more about prog, but that’s ok. The author is also funny. I would recommend this book to any metal fan.

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  • kyle kegley
  • 2021-04-29

Hilarious and eloquent.

The narrator and author O'Neill is knowledgeable and witty. Recommended for beginners and veterans of metal.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Harry P.
  • 2020-04-04

A MUST READ FOR METAL HEADS

I gave this book a 5-star review. It's funny, highly entertaining and well written. I'm 46-years old and a life long metal head. Andrew O'Neill does a phenomenal job looking back through the origins of heavy metal and beyond. He even introduced me to bands I had never heard of and I have added them to my play lists. Let me say this: he is biased towards Death Metal / Black Metal. He seems to skirt past the fact these bands paint their face, live with their parents / grandparents and sell a significantly smaller amount of music. If the vocals sounds like a painful colonoscopy, he seems to adore the band and lavish them with praise, even if a dozen people have purchased their album. Know that going in and all is well. I still love this book - I have the written and audible versions. - Harry Psaros

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  • James McIver
  • 2018-04-02

An excellent choice to learn more about metal

Very engaging and fun. The author is at his best when approaching the subgenres he loves most, but his history remains relatively broad and he does a good job of at the very least briefly touching upon any bands that were influential in the broader genre, whether he enjoyed them or not. I learned about a lot of bands I'd never heard of before, and now expect to have listening material the length of this book many times over. Some people may disagree with his opinions (they're generally pretty fair and rooted in skepticism over the commercialization of music), but unless you are extremely thin-skinned and opinionated about metal already, I very highly recommend you buy this audio book. Otherwise, I only highly recommend it.

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  • Max M.
  • 2021-07-09

Entertaining but incomplete

I enjoyed this a lot, but there is a lot of stuff missing. The author focuses heavily on proto, classical/heavy, death, and black metal from the 60s through the 90s, but barely dives into anything from the 2000s or 2010s, except to bash some stuff. That gives it a "BACK IN MY DAY THINGS WERE GOOD EVERYTHING MODERN SUCKS" boomer vibe, which is probably not the intention, as there are loads of good modern death (not core!), black, neo-trad, etc bands the author would probably like, but they're left out. I would have loved to hear about the development of prog, power, and other subgenres.

Still the bits that are there are well read and entertaining to hear, and I understand it's a passion project. Perhaps the author just isn't interested enough in that stuff to really do an accurate deep dive. Overall a fun listen if you don't overanalyze like I did (maybe that's why I like prog...)

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  • Brian D Helms
  • 2021-05-10

worth it on so many levels

Worth it on so many levels. Informative. Funny. and the delivery by the author / comedian / metal band member is exceptional.

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  • Chris Lane
  • 2021-03-20

Of all the books why does this have to be 10 hrs and Atlas Shrugged 62 (plus free to plussers)

My Favorite bands not mentioned are Mortification, Downside, Celldweller, Overkill, Saboton, Body Count, and Thrice

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-04-05

A funny and opinionated look into metal history

The book could be reviewed as two separate parts that make the whole; the comedy and the history. The comedy should deliver for those who enjoy the dry and sarcastic British approach to comedic delivery. I found the author to generally be rather funny and likeable, and his reading of the work is very excitable and engaging. The historic aspect of the book is quite solid, though one could argue it does seem to be slightly imbalanced in some parts. I was quite surprised that Iron Maiden for instance was merely breezed by as a side notion of the NWOBHM timeline, where as some other sub-genres (particularly death and black metal) receive considerable attention. As a friend of extreme metal, this was not too much of an issue for me, but this could be disappointing for some listeners.

As is mentioned in many of the reviews, the author certainly doesn't shy away from making his own views heard in the book. This may be an issue to some, but I mainly thought it brought more flavour to the text. If you are looking for an entertaining look into metal history filled with comedic personal stories and anecdotes, this one is for you.