For many a shaggy-haired or short-back-and-sides teenage misfit in the mid- to late 1980s, San Francisco was the centre of the known universe - a seemingly magical fountain of youth and creativity that they dreamt of visiting. It was here that the musical movement called Bay Area Thrash Metal was born, and from where bands like Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Death Angel and Vio-Lence spread out to the walls and tape decks of kids around the world.
Right in the thick of it were Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew, two locals who brought their cameras to the shows and captured some of the defining images of the era. They've gathered them in Murder in the Front Row, a life-affirming journey through legendary gigs, rowdy nights and kids having fun with hometown heroes - unaware of just what a profound impact their music would have on generations to come.
This is a book that deserves to be ranked alongside other great subculture chronicles like Banned in DC, American Hardcore: A Tribal History and We've Got the Neutron Bomb, and while more written recollections would have been welcome (the ones that are featured are excellent), you won't find better shots of on-stage savagery or basketball-booted bodies trying to fly.
Guaranteed to make you feel younger with the turn of each page - and to appreciate even more those magical nights of your own. A sequel already feels overdue.
Recommend listening while reading: Metallica - Ride the Lightning, Exodus - Bonded by Blood, Testament - The Legacy, Death Angel -The Ultra-Violence, Vio-Lence - Eternal Nightmare