I know how rough it could be shopping for gifts around the holidays. So, if you're looking to pick up some goodies for people in your life that love hardcore, punk, and metal, I tried to make things easier on you by compiling some books that came out this year that will surely go over splendidly.
If you think I missed any, please let me know in the comments section below the list!
Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. from Bad Brains, by Howie Abrams and James Lathos (Lesser Gods)
In my review of Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. from Bad Brains, I wrote: "...the aspect I was most intrigued about before reading the book was anything that could cut through the legend constructed around the hardcore icon." Authors Howie Abrams and James Lathos do that and more in this must-read for any fan of both Bad Brains, and their enigmatic vocalist.
Straight Edge: A Clear-Headed Hardcore Punk History, by Tony Rettman (Bazillion Points)
Written by fellow music geek (and friend) Tony Rettman, Straight Edge: A Clear-Headed Hardcore Punk History aims to be the be all end all for sXe 101, and you know what, homeboy nails it. The book includes input from members of such No Echo favorites as Uniform Choice, Youth of Today, Brotherhood, and No For An Answer, among many other bands. Previous to his deep dive into The Edge, Rettman penned NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980–1990 and Why Be Something That You’re Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979–1985, two books that should already be in your home library.
For the Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records, by Brian Slagel with Brian Eglinton (BMG Books)
The most important label that has ever come out of the US is Metal Blade Records. This is not a debatable topic. In For the Sake of Heaviness: The History of Metal Blade Records, the label's founder and CEO, Brian Slagel, takes you on a journey through the music and bands that changed his life, and many of you reading this. The book is chock-full with mouth-watering insider trivia and the stories behind the early days of some of the label's most recognized acts: Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, and Lizzy Borden.
My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor, Keith Morris with Jim Ruland (Da Capo Press)
Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Off!) is one of punk's most gifted storytellers, and if anyone in that scene warranted writing a memoir, it's him. Co-written with Jim Ruland (Flipside, Razorcake), My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor is an often hilarious book, due to Morris' biting humor, but it also serves as a warts-and-all account of his journey inside and outside of his life in music. The early portion of My Damage where he covers his conflict-filled childhood and teen years is especially illuminating.
Shredders!: The Oral History of Speed Guitar (And More), by Greg Prato (Jawbone Press)
A deep dive look at some of the best lead axemen (and women) of hard rock and heavy metal, Shredders!: The Oral History of Speed Guitar (And More) is as fun of a read as it is highly informative. As someone who grew up during the golden age of Shrapnel Records, I especially loved that portion of the book, but even if you don't know who Tony MacAlpine is, I think there's enough intriguing content throughout Shredders! that most No Echo readers will truly enjoy.
Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene, by Scott Crawford (Akashic Books)
Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Void, Swiz, Government Issue... Where would hardcore be without the '80s DC scene? Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene features rare images from the photographers that documented the movement. Curated by Scott Crawford—the guy behind the superb Salad Days documentary—Spoke covers all of the usual suspects but also includes lesser-known yet important DC bands like Beefeater and Marginal Man. Its coffee table size is also a bonus, making any living room 100% cooler with it in it.
My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory, by Roger Miret with Jon Wiederhorn (Lesser Gods)
As a fellow Latino, I couldn't wait to dig into Roger Miret's autobiography, My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory. "Beyond all of the Agnostic Front-related good and bad times recollections, Miret also reveals the highs and lows of his past relationships," I said in my review of the book. After reading the book, you'll understand how the singer's tumultous childhood colored much of his future failures, but in the end, it also made him a tougher and wiser man.
What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography, by Bruce Dickinson (Dey Street Books)
Since the late '80s, I've seen Iron Maiden perform well over 15 times, and what has boggled my mind the most the last few concerts has been how incredible Bruce Dickinson sounds and looks, despite pushing 60. I wouldn't be exagaretting when I tell you that I think he's better now than he was back on the Somewhere on Time tour back in '87. What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography carries that same kind of high-energy spirit. After all, this is a guy who in addition to fronting one of the all-time best heavy metal bands is also an airline pilot, beer brewer, motivational speaker, novelist, radio DJ, and film scriptwriter. No Maiden collection is complete without this book in it.
xXx Fanzine (1983-1988) Hardcore & Punk in the Eighties, by Mike Gitter (Bridge Nine Records)
"I was lucky enough to grow up in the Boston area, around a hardcore scene that was already in full swing by that point," said Mike Gitter, author of xXx Fanzine: 1983-1988 Hardcore & Punk in the Eighties, during a recent interview in No Echo. He wasn't kidding. Gitter rubbed elbows with members of seminal hardcore bands like SSD, The Proletariat, Slapshot, and DYS, and all these folks appear in xXx, along with interview, photos, and ads from the era. You simply can't go wrong with this one.
Damn the Machine - The Story of Noise Records, by David E. Gehlke (Deliberation Press)
Damn the Machine – The Story of Noise Records is an exhaustive look at the late great German label that issued landmark metal releases by Celtic Frost, Helloween, and Kreator, among many other underground giants. Writer David E. Gehlke put in the work here, interviewing not only the musicians who recorded for Noise throughout its history, but also former employees, and other important figures that were impacted by the company's roster. As much as I knew about the label going into the book, I realized after reading it that there was so much more to its history, especially the story of Karl-Ulrich Walterbach, Noise Records' outspoken founder. Damn the Machine is essential reading material for thrash, death, black, and power metal aficionados.
Live at the Safari Club: A People’s History of HarDCore, by Shawna Kenney and Rich Dolinger (Rare Bird Books)
Co-written by Shawna Kenney—one of the club's founders/promoters—and hardcore scene vet Rich Dolinger, Live at the Safari Club: A People’s History of HarDCore has garnered critical acclaim since its recent release, and with good reason. The oral history includes input from the club's promoters, DC hardcore scene staples, and many of the musicians that held the venue at such high esteem. Even without all that, the book is worth it for its photos alone. Swiz, Outburst, and Damnation A.D. are among the countless No Echo-approved artists featured within the book.
Urban Styles: Graffiti In New York Hardcore, by Freddy Alva (DiWulf Publishing)
After his No Echo feature, The Graffiti and Hardcore Connection, went viral, writer Freddy Alva was inspired to write an entire book on the subject. Urban Styles: Graffiti In New York Hardcore isn't some stuffy scholarly examination of both subcultures, rather, Alva lays out their colliding histories in a manner that keeps you ripping through each page at a rapid clip. NYHC greats like Mackie Jayson (Cro-Mags, The Icemen), Chaka Malik (Burn, Orange 9mm), and Danny "Ezec" Singer (Crown of Thornz, Skarhead) all offer up their unique and first-hand accounts from back in the '80s. It doesn't matter if you've seen Dreams Don't Die or not, Urban Styles will bring a smile to the face of any NYHC fan.
The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C Pérez (Viking Books for Young Readers)
I'm the father of a 5-year-old little girl, so when I stumbled across the synposis for The First Rule of Punk on Amazon, I ordered a copy right away. You see, the debut book from punk zinester Celia C. Pérez, centers around Malú, a young Latina student who doesn't give into the mainstream expectations of her school and home life. Not only does she start a band, but she also fights the power, standing up for herself at every challenge that arises. While reading it to my daughter, I found that I indentified with so many different struggles Malú faced, including the idea that she wasn't "Latina enough" for some people. I can't tell you how many times that has come up in my life. I guess so has Pérez.