Book Reviews

A History of Heavy Metal by Andrew O’Neill Book Review

hell yeah Review

  • A History of Heavy Metal.
  • Andrew O’Neill.
  • 320 pages.
  • Fiction / Heavy Metal / Fun.
  • My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.


Book Blurb:

The history of heavy metal brings us extraordinary stories of larger-than-life characters living to excess, from the household names of Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Bruce Dickinson and Metallica (SIT DOWN, LARS!), to the brutal notoriety of the underground Norwegian black metal scene and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. It is the story of a worldwide network of rabid fans escaping everyday mundanity through music, of cut-throat corporate arseholes ripping off those fans and the bands they worship to line their pockets. The expansive pantheon of heavy metal musicians includes junkies, Satanists and murderers, born-again Christians and teetotallers, stadium-touring billionaires and toilet-circuit journeymen.

Award-winning comedian and life-long heavy metal obsessive Andrew O’Neill has performed his History of Heavy Metal comedy show to a huge range of audiences, from the teenage metalheads of Download festival to the broadsheet-reading theatre-goers of the Edinburgh Fringe. Now, in his first book, he takes us on his own very personal and hilarious journey through the history of the music, the subculture, and the characters who shaped this most misunderstood genre of music.

Book Review:

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through bookbridgrย in exchange for an honest review.

“There are two types of people in the world: people who like heavy metal, and dicks”

An auspicious and unashamedly blunt start (come on, admit it, if you’re a heavy metal fan you smiled at that sentence and said fuck yeah in agreement) and a tantalising taste of what’s to come as you prepare to delve further into the book!

I’m a rock/metal fan, from the 1980’s poodle perm rock of Def Leppard through bands like Maiden, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica to the modern day metal bands like Cold, Flaw, Tremonti, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch, Demon Hunter and Any Given Day. And, whilst there is a chance that O’Neill would deride and scoff at my favourite bands (be warned fans your favourite bands might be mentioned and they might be roasted too) it would be hard to take offence as it’s told in such a fun way that it’s hard to take offence and I loved this book.


A History of Heavy Metal is like a 300 page world tour of heavy metal taking you on a journey through the fifty year history of the genre from its inception and very beginning across the various subgenres, fads and trends that have occurred over the years before finally ending with a look at the state of metal today. With an additional epilogue depicting the future of heavy metal as perceived by O’Neill and trust me, the epilogue is funny as fuck!

I’d heard of most of the bands and musicians mentioned. Some of them only in passing and from music articles but the names were familiar even if I hadn’t listened to the bands. (I’m not up on all the old bands at the beginning of the heavy metal movement or the Death, Black Metal and Grindcore sub genres).

A History of Heavy Metal is funny and irreverent with the footnotes by O’Neill often verging on the hilarious. But it’s more than just a humorous look at the genre and culture and what you find inside the pages is that O’Neill has actually created a very knowledgeable, insightful and enjoyable read.

Andrew O’Neill, the author is a comedian and a metal fan and both shine through in A History of heavy metal. The humour of the comedian in O’Neill shines through in his writing and the true music and metal fan in him shines through in his knowledge and passion for the genre.

A History of Heavy Metal is written by O’Neill in his own colourful and individual way. It is not a boring historical text book of musical history as told by some bland ass stuffy vanilla writer who loves to pontificate and lecture yet, in reality, knows nothing about metal! Oh no! The book itself is a personal look at heavy metal, it’s O’Neill’s own account and view and not an encyclopedic look at the history. The information is well researched and accurate but where personal opinions on subjects and bands are concerned, it’s very much a subjective view by a fan who loves the genre.ย 


There really isn’t much else to say about A History of Heavy Metal as obviously if you aren’t a fan of this genre of music then the book won’t be for you. If you are a dance loving dimwit or a pop loving pussy, then, whilst I question your sanity and taste in music. I do admit and respect that if you don’t listen to heavy metal, you really wouldn’t want to read a book based on its history just like I wouldn’t want to read about Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift’s conception and life in their autobiographies!

AC/DC sang “for those about to rock, we salute you” well, as a heavy metal fan I salute you Andrew O’Neill for writing this adventure through the annals of heavy metal.

If you are a heavy metal fan then just buy this book, it’s loud, brash, opinionated, full of fun and written with a genuine love for the music, you need to read it! Simply put it’s an exceptional companion piece to the best music genre out there! Devil horns baby!๐Ÿค˜


Purchase A History of Heavy Metal:

Amazon UK ย / ย Amazon US / ย Book Depository

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21 thoughts on “A History of Heavy Metal by Andrew O’Neill Book Review

  1. I’m getting this. I am currently reading an ARC of the new Jason Arnopp non-fiction book, collecting some of his best interviews for Kerrang magazine done over the years. It’s really good reading and I can remember a few of them from when I bought the zine back in the day. I think it’s coming next month. I definitely recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I still love the music, don’t get me wrong. I was being literal about the head banging… my neck doesn’t care for it anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous review and I most certainly can’t wait to start reading this book now ๐Ÿ™‚ I do wonder, if he will rip apart any of my fave bands? I am soon to find out…
    Oh, and while I was flipping through the book a bit I did notice the future of metal section but I am intrigued about the epilogue now! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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