The more I read of Sound of the Beast, the more I’m impressed by it. It’s almost desperate in its thoroughness, as if Ian Christe is scrambling to document an era that’s finished and destined to be forgotten. Perhaps the metal years are over and done with, and if this is the case, then Christe’s labours assume an air of nobility that other rock books can’t approach. It’s much more entertaining than the sociological studies of metal (by Donna Gaines, etc.) I’ve read, but it’s just as carefully documented.
Writing this book almost seems like an altruistic act, something for future generations to puzzle over and maybe learn from. That's a pretty naive thought on my part, though. Never mind the future—I wonder who the audience for this book is in the present day. I read books like this for the same reasons I enjoy hanging out and talking music with friends—to hear what someone else is into, and how they got into it and why, get recommendations, eyewitness accounts of gigs, etc. I often think these books preach to the converted or about-to-be-converted. I have difficulty imagining someone just casually picking it off the shelf and getting into it like I have.
Ultimately I don't care. He’s written the book for posterity, and that’s an admirable thing. I got it from the VPL, but I’ll probably buy a copy for my own library.
My only frustration is with the book’s American POV. The chapter on MTV don’t mean shit to me. Sure, I saw all those videos on MuchMusic, but that our video channel wasn’t nearly as omnipotent and censorious. There wasn’t as much of an “us vs. them” thing happening between the metal underground and mainstream music TV in Canada. I think the book could be improved with an addendum about the Power Hour and the cultural ripple effect of Celtic Frost’s “Circle of the Tyrants” video.