I don’t quite know what to think of Daniel Bukszpan’s The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. Maybe writing a review of it will help me make a judgment?
There’s quite a bit to like about the book. My favorite part is that it covers a wide variety of metal bands. Unlike any other “general metal history” books that I’ve read, this one *gasp* covers power and progressive metal bands! Bukszpan goes out of his way to highlight relatively obscure and underrated bands (it’s apparent that he is really into King’s X). And, if that wasn’t enough, there are one-page articles about music from different countries. I especially liked the article on Japanese metal - it didn’t say much I didn’t already know, but it’s not everyday that you read a book that mentions bands like Galneryus and Double Dealer or includes a short bio on Loudness, and this book does both!
The presentation is fantastic: the book is presented in full-color, and photos are plentiful. I don’t think it’s marketed as a “coffee table” book, but you could certainly use it as such. I guess? Are metalheads into coffee tables? lol I dunno.
Sure, this book looks nice, but I have a few issues with its content.
All band entries are in alphabetical order. This makes for a jarring cover-to-cover read as you can go directly from doom metal to glam and back again.
The band biographies themselves occasionally leave a little to be desired. For a book named The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal, man, it’s quite opinionated. And that often surfaces in predictable ways, such as its negative coverage of glam metal and its often bemused take on black metal.
My biggest problem is that many of the band profiles are barebones and rather dry at times - maybe the author didn’t care too much for those bands? The shorter profiles made reading this book in hour-long chunks quite monotonous.
Midway through, I realized that the best way to read this book cover-to-cover is to read only a few band bios at a time and put it down. Reading it like this made the longer, better band bios stood out quite a bit better than they previously were, making this an enjoyable read.
Writing a review helped! I reached a decision:
Come to think of it, I was going to recommend it anyways. It has a foreword written by Ronnie James Dio, so you know that it’s legit.