It has long been the case: some of the best and most insightful writing about music is in metal publications. And for the past five years, the American magazine Decibel has been the sharpest and wittiest of them all.
One of Decibel's monthly highlights is its Hall of Fame feature, where the story behind a classic album is told by the people who made it. There are only two rules: each record must be at least five-years-old and everyone who played on it must be interviewed - if someone refuses or if a band member has passed away, their work can't be honoured.
'Precious Metal' gathers 25 of the 50-odd inductees - everything from classic (Black Sabbath, Diamond Head) to stoner (Kyuss, Monster Magnet) to black (Darkthrone, Emperor) to death metal (Obituary, Carcass) to hardcore (Converge, Botch) and every one of them is a great read, guaranteed to make you feel nostalgic or inspired.
Whether it's Slayer's 28-minute, career-defining 'Reign in Blood' or Sleep's one song, 52-minute 'Jerusalem', the recollections and reappraisals from the musicians involved are fascinating, and the examination of the creative process is always different and thought-provoking. You don't have to have heard the albums or even be into metal to enjoy this book, a love of music is all that's needed. You might even end up buying some of them on the strength of what you read, and that would bring as much joy to Mudrian and his gang as it would to the bands.
It's a thrill every month waiting to find out the latest group to make the Decibel grade and, as Mudrian says, "the success of the Hall of Fame series suggests that there are actually plenty more dorks just like me who can't real 'grow out' of certain albums". Long may it last, long may the dorks dork and here's hoping for a second volume - some of us will take a while to get over the absence of Anthrax, Quicksand and the Rollins Band from this one.