I’m reading a book that’s pissing me off pretty badly, but I’m still rather enjoying it. It’s called Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict, and it’s by a British fellow named Seb Hunter. Hunter is a younger fellow than I, but with many similar musical experiences. He and I were both in bands as teenagers, although he took it much more seriously and took it further than I did.
The book is decently written, although it wanders about a good bit. There is some information that I didn’t know, particularly about the British metal scene. There are a few problems, though. First, even though Hunter claims to be a “Heavy Metal Addict” he clearly doesn’t have much respect for the genre. I don’t know if it’s because he wanted to be famous and never made it, or if he’s moved on to different music as he’s aged, but the work is full of snide comments and putdowns that he perhaps considers to be funny. I don’t find them funny. He is horribly dismissive of whole bands and even subgenres, but I think part of that is “style” over “substance” problems. He dismisses the band Krokus as worthless, for example, but while Krokus had quite a silly image (in my opinion) they put out some really good rocking tunes, including “Stayed Awake All Night” and “Screaming for Vengeance.” Their style wasn’t much, but there was some substance there.
Bizarrely, to me, he also dismisses Motley Crue while it’s clear that his strongest influences were the 1980s Glam Rockers. He likes/liked Ratt, Hanoi Rocks, Faster Pussycat, Poison, apparently unaware that none of those bands would either have existed or reached any level of fame without Motley Crue paving the way. Poison, of course, is laughable as a heavy metal band. There was nothing of heavy or metal about them. Again, it’s style over substance.
I wouldn’t personally call myself a heavy metal addict, but it’s by far the main type of music I listen to. I don’t mind seeing the field addressed with humor--I rather enjoyed the movie Spinal Tap--but I don’t find it funny when someone who claims to be an insider tries to gut it from within. I could care less what someone says about metal who doesn’t really listen to it, but I have to admit that it bothers me when 1) the critic is someone who seemingly has listened enough to the music to know better, and 2) when the focus of the criticism is on style over substance.
All right. Enough of my rant for the day.