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BOOK REVIEW: Into The Black-The Inside Story Of Metallica 1991-2014 by Paul Brannigan & Ian Winwood

| 27 March 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Into The Black-The Inside Story Of Metallica 1991-2014 by Paul Brannigan & Ian Winwood
Allen & Unwin, rrp$29.99
1 November, 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 ½ /10

Into The Black-The Inside Story Of Metallica book by Brannigan & Winwood

The authors of Into the Black and its predecessor, Birth School Metallica Death, have a long standing relationship with the band, starting around the time this volume begins. Whereas that first tome was a bit dry in its analysis – here they are able to draw on their own many meetings and interviews with the band, in order to explore the searching and restless nature of Metallica, a band who does all it can to avoid repeating itself – even at its own expense.

Despite the band’s quest for the next new thing, the irony as pointed out in this book’s introduction is that their fans are so in thrall of ‘classic’ Metallica, that they can no longer think outside of the box enough to push the band forward in any way. As an example, the authors cite a recent tour allowing fans to select the setlists, which resulted in practically the same old songs – almost exclusively from their first few albums – chosen “from Stevenage to Warsaw.”

At times Brannigan and Winwood get bogged down in hyperbole and bombastic prose, as if trying to paint an elaborate picture with each new paragraph, but they still offer enough intelligent observation on the career of one of the most influential metal bands of the modern age, picking up the saga from the release of the Black Album and their chaotic, decadent co-headlining tour of the United States with Guns n’ Roses.

The authors are, thankfully, not completely in awe of their subjects, happily highlighting errors of judgement, poor decisions and interview clangers along the way.

The Napster debacle is analysed in great detail – Ulrich’s stance is shown to be fair and, indeed, somewhat prophetic for the music business, although tactically he misplayed the game horrendously – as is Metallica’s latter-day recordings, Hetfield’s emergence from alcoholism into sobriety, and the debacle that was the Some Kind Of Monster documentary about those times and the St Anger album that resulted.

Keenly observing many key insights into the workings of the often dysfunctional Metallica family, Brannigan & Winwood also proffer the opinion that “Metallica will forever remain a very heavy metal band, a presence that while IN the mainstream is not quite OF the mainstream” – and that, again ironically, is exactly as their legions of denim-clad acolytes would prefer it.

Category: Book Reviews

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