I follow That Metal Show and listened to Eddie Trunk's radio show, I have to give the man credit because he really knows his music inside out. When it comes to metal this guy has been following the genre since its beginnings and he's met Hard Rock and Heavy Metal's biggest legends and talents, he certainly has experience on the topic. Now Eddie releases his own book. I guess I wasn't too sure what to expect but since it was a book on Hard Rock and Metal and that Eddie Trunk was the author of it, that was enough a reason for me to buy it. I was curious enough that I wanted to see for myself what Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal had to offer.
I won't argue with the author's picks and I'll agree that most of these bands are essential listening for a true fan. In fact, I would probably have included many of these bands in my personal "essentials" list. As always some fans are going to criticize and say this or that band should have been included (normal and perfectly understandable) but there was only so much room in the book even if some great bands have been overlooked. I'm not surprised at the picks and there are obviously a lot of Eddie's favorites like KISS, UFO, Thin Lizzy, Dio and so on. However it seems that there's little room for new bands in Eddie's idea of Hard Rock/Metal. While I myself prefer the classic bands over the ones of today there are still some good bands and musicians that make great music these days that should be talked about. I feel that it would only be normal to also spend some time on bands that carry on this genre of music, just my opinion. Trunk goes by favorites here which is typical and no big deal, I feel that fans would agree that the bands selected are essential and are deserving of a spot here. I think that there could have been room for more bands and more pages, Eddie's knowledge of the genre and these bands is huge I must say and that's why I feel this book could have given fans more. Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is basically an ok introduction and not much more, hardcore fans won't be finding much new here (I know I didn't).
This book is about the music and the bands but it's also a LOT about Eddie. He mentions whenever he met one of the bands and which occasion and how these guys are great friends and he has some interesting stories to tell. Sometimes it actually gets in the way of the band's bio. Even if this is not a biography there's a lot of his own story thrown in along with some highly opinionated comments which are a lot of times really accurate and he speaks for the whole Metal community (like when he talks about Def Leppard losing touch with their Hard Rock roots and how he doesn't listen to a whole lot of Leppard after Hysteria) but there are also times when his comments and opinions are a bit less valuable. This goes to show how everyone has their own opinion on music.
On the good side there are some great pictures in there, quite a few I had never seen before (as you may have guessed there are also a few of Eddie with the artists in here as well some which are taken when he was in his teenage years!) and while I wouldn't say they're worth buying the book alone they're certainly nice looking. As a nice personal touch that I enjoyed were Eddie's own playlist for each of the bands selected, it's interesting because these playlist tend to avoid most of the artists' hits and go for some excellent obscure song. This is where Eddie shows why he is a true fan, it would have been easy to only pick the popular songs but he went one step further here. The discographies are mostly complete, as Trunk states in the book he didn't include the live releases that he felt weren't supported by the bands therefore the discographies are fairly accurate while they don't always include everything (like Iron Maiden's live releases of which there are plenty). The Did You Know? Section is fun but I already knew a lot of these and the even slightly hardcore Metalhead would know about most of these trivias. For a new fan these would be more suitable and they would benefit from them. Eddie also includes a Classic Lineups section which lists the members of what would generally be considered every band's classic lineup as well as a Key Additional Members section which concentrates on other musicians who have played with the bands.
I know Eddie can do better than this and I'd like to see him release a second book that would be much bigger and that would feature more bands and stories. With all of Eddie's knowledge on this music I just expected better. For a new fan, the person who doesn't know all the band names, albums etc. or someone who's just getting into metal Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal would be a passable introduction to the genre, good yet nothing special. The foreword by the one and only Metal God Rob Halford is also a nice touch worth mentioning. Eddie Trunk is really a fan who got to meet his idols and someone who dedicated his life to this genre of music, his opinions as a fan are often very valid and right on the money and the fact that he's so honest and opinionated justifies his fandom. 3/5, I was hoping for more and was a bit deceived, therefore I can only recommend this as a general introduction to Hard Rock/Heavy Metal book and not much more. I still think a second book done properly would be an excellent read.