I'm hoping everyone that visits this site has at some time in their life experienced the Power of Metal, but to truly appreciate the Power you feel, you must understand it's history. As anyone one who has worn a black metal tee and has been called names like "Freak, Psycho, Stoner, Burnout" can tell you, being a metalhead can be a bumpy ride. Ironically the history of heavy metal itself is also a bumpy ride. With all these bumps and curves many two or three pages articles have been written trying to cover the history of heavy metal, but until now no full fledged history book has hit the shelves.

This is were IAN CHRISTE comes into the picture, having written articles about heavy metal in mags such as Kerrang!, Metal Forces, and Kick*Ass Monthly,Spin, AP, CMJ, and Metal Maniacs he was crazy enough or perhaps true enough ( you decide! ) to try to tackle the BEAST that others have never had the courage. Thanks to his years of experience and dedication we now have a book like "SOUND OF THE BEAST". If your a diehard metalhead or just a casual fan this book is a must read. It has it all Timelines, Top 10 Lists and the facts to back them up. Ever wonder where the "devil's sign" started? Ever wonder how Thrash Metal started? If so read this book and learn the answers to all your questions.

 

After reading this in depth book, I just had to try to pick the brain of the guy who wrote it. Not because he was wrote a good book, but because the book was written by a metalhead and not some research journalist! As much as the mainstream tries to deny it, there are intelligent metalheads and our genre of music is just as much as an artform as "important" ones like Theater and Jazz!

Thanks to Ian Christe for writing this book and to me telling the world "you can hide us and spit on us but we are here to stay! Our history is your history!!"

Prof.ManiC: When did your interest with heavy metal begin? Was there a defining moment when you saw the light or maybe the darkness?
IAN CHRISTE: I was a sixth grader going to American elementary school in
Landstuhl, West Germany, when AC/DC's Back in Black came out in 1981.

Looking back, it was an intense time. There was a lot of violence
around, whether at school or from occasional terrorist bombings. I
had a lot of time to kill, so I walked around little German towns
finding Iron Maiden EPs and delving into the past records of
Scorpions, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath.
Prof.ManiC: What was the defining moment that caused your interest to turn into an obsession? How did you feed your obsession for metal?
IAN CHRISTE: Honestly, though, I wouldn't ever say I was obsessed. I rarely have
Mercyful Fate-inspired dreams -- although it does happen. Metal has
definitely been like a constant mantra for me, but I've never been a
fiendish collector or anything. It's like a magnifier that makes all
the rest of life more intense. I feel like I've always been
surrounded by metal, trying to get other people interested in the
best music.
Prof.ManiC: Was deciding to write a book on the history of heavy metal a way to feed your obsession or was it simply a way to show your passion?? When did you actually decide you wanted to do the book? Were you sober when it happened??
IAN CHRISTE: I wanted to get revenge for the thousands of people who spent their
lives in heavy metal bands, and the millions of fans who supported
them. There has never been a full-fledged heavy metal history book
like Sound of the Beast, so since it was a wide open field I tried to
make this book as big and as expansive as possible. Of course, I
couldn't include everything, but I tried to pack the book tight with
information and stories. The early negotiations happened in 1998, and
I started writing the next summer. It took three years, but whenever
I was completely out of energy I would rediscover a Testament or
Emperor record and just keep fighting to finish!
Prof.ManiC: When you we deciding on the books name, how did you come up with "Sound of the Beast"?
IAN CHRISTE: We were kicking around names like Belly of the Beast, which I thought
sucked. I liked the idea of calling it something similar to "Call of
the Wild" or "Barbarians at the Gate," but those names were taken. I
wanted to call it Whiplash! for a long time, and later I said fuck
it, how about an elemental name like Blood! Fire! Death! Ultimately
we settled on Sound of the Beast, and now I can't imagine any
different.
Prof.ManiC: Did you ever think the title and artwork would be feeding the concept that Heavy metal is EVIL?? Was it a marketing plan?? Or did you just figure since darkness and evil always seemed to be part of the past of metal, and they are part of it today that most likely it will be part of the future, so why try to avoid it or sugar coat it?
IAN CHRISTE: No, I don't think heavy metal is evil at all, but I wanted to poke
fun at that misconception. To me, the "beast" is the wild, untamed
animal part of human nature which heavy metal reaches in a really
spectacular way. Metal is a connection between the strapped,
subjugated modern world and the untamed feral spirit inside us all. I
think of it more like a wolf howling in the night than any kind of
satanic shit. Metalheads understand and love chaos, and the world is
chaos, so...
Prof.ManiC: When you found out how much work was involved and how hard it was to interview the people you needed, did you have a change of heart? Was this a labor of love??
IAN CHRISTE: It was an insane amount of work, and I have to thank my original
editor Bret Witter for sticking with me even after the publisher
changed hands, and he had no reason to keep reading my hundreds of
pages about heavy metal. The original publisher, Avon Books, produced
the Satanic Bible, Necronomicon, and Cryptonomicon, but they were
acquired by HarperCollins before I finished, a major publisher that
presented huge challenge and opportunity. Yes, it was a labor of love
-- and I had to struggle to make everyone at the company understand
that. Ultimately, they supported me, as you can tell from the
finished book!
Prof.ManiC: Who were the hardest people to track down to interview? Who did you want to interview but they blew you off? Any good "God, that guy is a dick" stories??
IAN CHRISTE: It was equally difficult to track down Katon Depena, Jeff Becerra,
and Jess Cox as it was Dee Snider and Lars Ulrich. Some people were
difficult to find because they weren't making music any more. Others
had big star systems around them that were hard to break through. I
have to say, once I reached them everyone from Kiss to the Accused
were incredibly cool and generous with their time. Nobody was
embarrassed about their past -- I mean, Slayer were even willing to
talk about wearing make-up! -- and I have ultimate respect for the
honesty of metal musicians. One interview I could never snag was
Lemmy, because he was writing his own autobiography. I think that was
a mistake on his part, but I tried. The only person who was even
slightly a jerk was Glenn Danzig, which is interesting because he
comes from a punk background, not metal.
Prof.ManiC: Historically what sections of your book were the hardest to "fill in the blanks" because the info was so hard to track down or get correct?

IAN CHRISTE: I had the most fun writing about the 1970s, even though it was so
long ago. It was cool to delve into the pioneer period, even if
briefly. The toughest time period to capture was 1990-91, because
there were so many different forces at work: the death of glam, the
rise of Metallica, the huge surge of death metal at the time, the
appearance of White Zombie, and the changing of Pantera. The usual
boring story is that grunge killed metal, but that's bullshit. It was
a complex time, and ultimately Metallica killed Nirvana in popularity.
Prof.ManiC: Is there a reason you decided to focus on Metallica? Is it because their history is the history of metal? Or because everyone knows them? Or because you just lived in that area and time so it was your history?
IAN CHRISTE:

Yes, I was 13 when Kill 'Em All came out, so I did follow their rise
for many years with personal satisfaction. They were the band that
proved all the crazy rules of the fans could be correct -- no videos,
no hair, no bullshit. Of course, they were cardboard soldiers by the
end of the 1980s, but I still viewed their success as a good thing. I
think a lot of people felt that way. For a time, Metallica was
important to everyone: fans of doom metal, black metal, and regular
heavy metal. They have probably sold more records than all other
heavy metal bands combined, and they took heavy metal to new places
-- even if those places eventually became very sketchy. They were
also a great touchstone, and as a backbone helped organize the book
for readers who know nothing about metal. That was important to me --
I want not only every heavy metal fan but also their parents to read
this book!

Prof.ManiC: Is there a reason you didn't mention Helloween at all in the book?? Is it because they seem to be one of the major influences in the retro metal movement and since you're not a big fan of retro metal you said piss on it? Or did you feel if you mentioned them you would have to mention other bands and didn't want to open that can of worms for the sake of progress??

IAN CHRISTE: Well, I was able to mention thousands of bands, but a few big names
fell through the cracks: Helloween, Pentagram, and Dream Theater
included. You're right -- I was looking forward throughout the book,
and after many pages on Testament, Celtic Frost, and Napalm Death in
the 1980s, there was barely room left for Helloween. There's always
one rabbit that gets away... I think the book does a good job
explaining of how a band like Helloween could develop -- the context
is all there.
Prof.ManiC: Do you consider the NEW WAVE OF ITALIAN HEAVY METAL also retro? Or is it just too new to have a historical impact or too mention? Or are you like me and just thinks it sucks??
IAN CHRISTE: What was the old wave of Italian metal, Bulldozer and Shabby Trick?
Personally, I think bands like Rhapsody sound more like the old radio
AOR rock bands like Asia than heavy metal. It's very operatic, but
too much like Fellini -- I like hard-edged Pasolini metal!
Prof.ManiC: Do you consider FOLK METAL to be an actually genre? Do you consider SKYCLAD to be the fathers of that style or are there others who did it before them? Do you think that they or others in the style will ever be worthy of history?
IAN CHRISTE:
Yes, I think Lord Wind, Ulver, and Burzum have made excellent folk
metal records. In 1993, I began playing fiddle and started the
traditional Appalachian murder ballad bluegrass band Grouse Mountain
Skyride here in New York. We played with junkie rock bands like Royal
Trux, and eventually put our songs out on Kill Rock Stars and our
own. So when I first heard Emperor and Darkthrone, I could hear the
fast Norwegian folk influence. The Finnish band Ajattara is also
awesome at combining folk and metal. I think the ultimate folk metal
masterpiece still lays ahead of us -- I'm always interested to hear
folk-inspired bands.
Prof.ManiC: Speaking of Genres, do you think Nu-metal is actually new or do you think a lot of it is just retro rap in the vein of guitar driven songs by Run Dmc and Ice-T with stolen serial killer lyrics from the Ghetto Boys? What can nu-metal contribute to the future of metal and the future of instrument techniques?
IAN CHRISTE:

No, I think the original hardcore rap groups that you mentioned were
revolutionary and raw. Nu metal is commercial music. Even though
bands like Korn are filled with angst, they're very calculated and
seek not to truly offend anyone. Mass media has gotten very smart at
using nudity and profanity to seem dangerous, but it's still for
sheep. That's why you'll never hear Darkthrone on Ozzfest -- too
vulnerable and dangerous. People slam Slipknot, but at least they've
gotten heavier with each album, and at least they get huge audiences
to go completely physically wild and crazy.

Prof.ManiC: Since you have experienced and researched the past of heavy metal, and live during its present, I'm sure you have some opinions about its future.
So let's see what you think about the following ideas.
IAN CHRISTE:

Okay -- what do you want to know?
Prof.ManiC: Since Nu-metal is usually down tuned, distorted and hates solos. Do you think in the future there will be a rebellion against and this will lead back to an interest in the mainstream in power or progressive metal? Or do you think some completely new will spring up to replace it? If so do you have any clue what it could be?
IAN CHRISTE:
Without even predicting the future, I can see the respect for
traditional heavy metal skills everywhere in 2003. Not just the
Haunted and Cradle of Filth, but hardcore bands like Unearth and the
godly Converge are using crazy guitar solos and traditional metal
chops. The popularity of so-called "power metal" bands I think is a
reaction to the lack of solos in aggressive metal.
Prof.ManiC:
Do you think we are on the verge of seeing the birth of yet another metal genre? If so who, what, and where will it come from??
IAN CHRISTE:
More electronics, more density, more speed, more math metal, and more
violent insanity. It will come from where you least expect it --
Switzerland, French Canada, the former Czech Republic, or Morocco.
Prof.ManiC: Who do you think will be the Vocal and Guitar metal legends of the future??
IAN CHRISTE:
I don't know, but we need a new Rob Halford, not just a carbon copy.
Extreme death metal with bizarre dramatic vocals has yet to be
mastered, but we need it. Everyone loves a brutal growler, but it's
important to hear the lyrics.
Prof.ManiC: What newbie bands nowadays will be the stuff of legends in 15 years from now??
IAN CHRISTE:
Converge, Cult of Luna, Meridian, Ajattara, Enslaved -- whoever can
survive with their creativity intact will conquer. Too many bands
burn out after one or two albums.
Prof.ManiC: Any Final Comments or bitches??
IAN CHRISTE:

Yes! To everyone from crusty old bangers to young greenhorns: buy
Sound of the Beast and read the fuck out of it!!! It belongs close to
the heart of all metalheads. I think there's something inside for
everyone from the most hardened veteran to the distant relatives of
headbangers. This is your story, about the music that beat the system
and sold a quarter-billion albums by appealing to the fans. Check out
http://www.soundofthebeast.com for updates, reviews, and news on the
book.

Final comment: Don't forget about the West Memphis Three. Those kids
have been in jail for ten years now, because the prosecutors
convinced a simple-minded jury that anyone wearing a black heavy
metal T-shirt could be guilty of murder. Read the chapter in Sound of
the Beast for background, and check http:///www.wm3.org for updates.
As far as I'm concerned, the entire heavy metal community should be
doing everything possible to set these people free.

Beast wishes, and thanks for the interview!!

IAN CHRISTE