(In this post BadWolf delivers No Clean Singing’s first book review.)
I think Ian Christe’s Bazillion Points Books is one of the most important forces in metal culture, as well as music publishing in general, today.
Then again I’m biased: I used to work there. The vast majority of my time at Bazillion Points was spent working with Ian on Metallion: The Slayer Mag Diaries, but one day Ian passed me a thick stack of paper held together by an overtaxed paperclip. The byline read: Laina Dawes. It was a brisk, easy read about the struggle of black women in the heavy metal scene. Up until that point, I wasn’t aware that there were any black women in metal—ever. Therefore, I was part of the problem. The rest of the details are fuzzy, though I recall a great deal of discussion about Skunk Anansie, a band I had not yet listened to.
That paper, ‘What Are You Doing Here,’ was the first book pitch I ever edited. Four years later, I hold the final product in my hand. I’m not sure if the edits I made ever found their way into Ms. Dawes’ book—probably not; I did a really shitty job!—but whatever changes she made were for the better.
What Are You Doing Here? is one of the most necessary books on heavy music in circulation. It ignores, for the most part, the evolution of heavy music out of rock and roll, and completely shuns the sub-genre debate. And it is stronger for it. Compared to the struggle of non-whites and non-males in our society, debates over the relative quality of one album to another feel moot.