Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review: All Pens Blazing, A Heavy Metal Writer's Handbook by Neil Daniels

Most music related books come with a pre-determined audience, this I find is fact. I mean a book written about Slayer is going to attract one demographic and the chances of that spreading to other areas are usually quite slim. Unless it’s a crossover type of hit ala Motley Crue’s ‘The Dirt’ chances are most have a built in audience. ‘All Pens Blazing’, the latest book by UK scribe Neil Daniels fits this bill to a T. Simply stated, it’s written by and for those who take the world of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal writings more serious than the average Joe.

The book is a collection of interviews with a slew of past and present music writers and their stories of how they came to be involved with Rock and Metal music journalism. So if the names Geoff Barton, Malcolm Dome, Xavier Russell, Peter Makowski, Dave Dickson, Neil Jeffries, Dave Ling, Steffan Chirazi, Ian Christe, Mike Exley, Matthias Mader, Joel McIver, Dave Reynolds, and/or Martin Popoff (who also penned the foreword) ring a bell, then ‘All Pens Blazing’ is about as informative and entertaining as anything out there today. If not, move along.

The interviews are pretty informative, especially the ones conducted with the “old guard” writers from Sounds, Record Collector and Kerrang! about what a totally different era they came up through. The polar opposite of today’s printed word versus those in the 70’s and 80’s are like night and day and the interviews here make that very clear. These writers, well some of them were like actual rock stars, they were there when the scene was in its infancy and delivered the interviews and features making them a lifeline to the music at a time when there was none.

If you’re a student of titles such as Metal Hammer, Raw, Metal Forces, Metal Maniacs, RIP, Circus, Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles, Classic Rock, Terrorizer as well as the titles I mention above then this is a great read and if you’re interested in becoming a Rock writer or just wanting to know more about the subject then the book becomes fairly essential. The only reason I say "fairly" is because people are far too smart these days to listen to anyone other than themselves when it comes to music. Watch for Part II coming later in 2010 with an improved layout.