x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Fans swear by Joel McIvor's book

Book is claimed to be the definitive biography on Metallica by fans.

Those looking for a book about Metallica will be spoilt for choices; dozens of titles have been written tracing the band's achievements and misfires.

But speak to the hard-core fans, and one book is always mentioned: Justice for All: the Truth About Metallica, by the British music writer Joel McIver. First released in 2004, with an updated edition two years ago, it is the definitive biography of the group, according to their fans.

The book has become so successful that the band's drummer Lars Ulrich reportedly remarked how he is repeatedly asked to autograph the book, despite it not being an official biography.

McIver puts the book's success down partly to his large scope - tracing the group's rise from the early 1980s Los Angeles metal scene to becoming the founders of the thrash metal genre - and his determination to break misconceptions surrounding the band.

"I am a huge fan and I always wanted to write about them," he says, in an interview with The National. "Although there are several books about Metallica on the market nowadays, some of which are excellent and some of which are terrible, back in 2003 there was no all-encompassing biography of the band, which made them an obvious choice of subject."

But McIver doesn't approach his subject with the rose-tinted view of a fan; he sheds light on the group's musical low-points and the tense relationship between the group's co-founders, the lead singer James Hetfield and Urlich.

With the band's ill-fated battle with the downloading site Napster in 2000 - which he labels a "PR disaster" - as well the unflattering documentary Some Kind of Monster, and the widely panned 2003 album St Anger, McIver admits being surprised the group are still together.

"Somehow, group therapy, rehab and the whole St Anger/Some Kind of Monster nightmare helped Lars and James to get through," he says.

But McIver is adamant the group acted correctly in firing the former guitarist Dave Mustaine in 1983, who, despite going on to form the influential metal group Megadeth, until recently publicly expressed his anger at the decision.

"If Dave Mustaine had remained in Metallica, they would have split up by 1985," he says.

"That's not a dig at Dave, simply an acknowledgement that three big personalities would have been too much for the band to take – even having two was hard enough."

While describing the group's latest comeback album, 2008's Death Magnetic as a sign "they still had energy and ideas", it is their powerful live shows that cement Metallica as one of the genre's finest, if not the current best.

"Metallica's live show is second to none, as you are about to witness first hand," he says.

"They have a grasp of the dynamics of a stadium show, which is breathtaking."


The updated edition of Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica (Omnibus Press) is available at bookstores or online. Details: www.joelmciver.co.uk