Decibel is probably my favorite magazine that covers heavy music (hardcore, metal, industrial, and all the associated subgenres.) The writing is interesting and they do some creative things with their content. And in every issue (or pretty close to it) Decibel has a feature called “Hall of Fame” which is where, as Precious Metal explains it, they “take a classic extreme metal record (as determined by our staff) released at least five years ago, track down and interview every member who played on it, and present them questions exclusively about the writing, recording, touring, and overall impact of said album.”
There are twenty-five interviews in Precious Metal, covering such albums as Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell, Napalm Death’s Scum, Cannibal Corpse’s Tomb of the Mutilated, Down’s NOLA, and Converge’s Jane Doe. The content of each interview is broad and explores each album in an in-depth manner. Most of these albums are pretty extreme, though: there’s stuff from Carcass, Obituary, Repulsion, Morbid Angel, and the like—you’re not going to find anything from that one punk band you like that you think is kind of “heavy.” Thus, you’re going to have to be a pretty big-time metal fan to really enjoy the bulk of this.
One point of contention I have with the book is something that really isn’t the fault of the writers, but it’s that, in some cases, the pieces didn’t go into as many details or nuances of the albums as I would have liked. I love Converge’s Jane Doe and would have loved to read a song-by-song explanation of the album. Knowing that these were originally meant for a magazine, I understand that there’s only so much one has space for; and I suppose the deeper analysis is why the 33 1/3 book series exists.
Other times, the questions go in one direction, where you might have wished they would have gone in another, but, generally speaking, you will learn a lot about some of your favorite metal albums.
Despite those few complaints, Precious Metal is a fine piece of work. It’s unlikely someone is going to be a fan of all twenty-five albums discussed in the book, but it’s still worth flipping through to read the ones you are interested in. Besides, you’ll finally be able to find out how Cannibal Corpse got the hook up to be in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. (Spoiler: Jim Carrey was a big fan of the band. For real.)–Kurt Morris (DaCapo, dacapopress.com)