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"Hellbent For Leather" The Book

By Newsferatu, Writer
Sunday, June 4, 2006 @ 8:31 AM

Written by Seb Hunter, Publish

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Reviewed by "Brad D".

OK, so this book actually came out in 2004, but admittedly, I just got around to 1) buying it, 2) reading it and 3) putting together some sort of a review. "Hellbent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict" by Seb Hunter is quite possibly one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. Part autobiography and part heavy metal primer, the book would be funny for anyone, but is especially meaningful for those of us who love heavy metal. At times, the author looks back at himself and certain aspects of metal fandom with a roll of the eyes (after all, who doesn't have a picture of themselves from their teens with a somewhat ridiculous haircut and ripped jeans?) but overall he treats the subject with the respect one would expect from a life-long fan.

Hunter's life story parallels that of most metal fans. The book spans the author's history from the first time he heard ACDC's "Let's Get it Up" as a 10 year old, his introductions to all the various styles of metal as a teen, through various bands he played with, and eventually the crash when the realization that the career of Rock God has passed him by. Personally, I recall most of the same events in my own life, including the first time hearing Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" as a child, being mesmerized by it, expanding to Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Metallica in high school and then eventually joining a metal band in college, which ultimately went nowhere. For any of us with similar stories, this book is especially funny and interesting. However, Hunter's wry observations and dry English wit make this an entertaining read for just about anyone.

If you don't know anything about the metal subculture, you will by the end of this book, however, if you do, he really nails most aspects of what it means to be a fan of this type of music. When his band forced a keyboard player on Seb, over his protest, he points out the following: "Motorhead don't use keyboards. If Lemmy saw a keyboard, he'd vomit. Slayer couldn't even pronounce the word, let along plug one in." He discusses the long hair, of course, in detail, as well as how to dress metal. If a fan of a particular band were to bump into another fan of that particular band, "what you want to be wearing is the limited edition tour t-shirt, the faded one and, most importantly, the one with the tour dates on the back...preferably for a gigantic world tour with tons of dates in Germany and places you've never heard of in America". Metal guitars, the best live album of all time (need you even ask, "Live After Death" of course) and which bands he would have thrown a two-liter bottle of piss at during the various Castle Donnington concerts (Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, Thunder, Extreme and Warrior Soul amongst others).

The author's father wanted him to get rid his first Venom album, and he argued "but it says they're At War With Satan...Dad!". I went through the same thing with mom and "Kill 'em All". I was reading this book while traveling through Europe, usually on a train. People would often look at me strangely as I was laughing out loud like a loon, but it's impossible not to with some of the lines Hunter throws out there. Discussing the big Four of thrash, "Slayer couldn't do a ballad if you sprinkled their breakfast cereal with ecstasy and sleeping pills and locked them in a room with just harps". On Metallica's downward spiral post Master of Puppets (if you only ever buy one thrash album ever then buy this one), "They not only recorded a ballad...produced by Bob Rock no less, Bon Jovi's producer. It wasn't long before they'd cut their hair, recorded a live album with an orchestra, dressed in suits and....tried to sue their fans for downloading their music from Napster too....I would certainly call that a demise". Give this book a read, it goes by fast, has great pictures illustrating the author's points and will absolutely make you laugh out loud over and over.

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