Murder In The Front Row

Murder In The Front Row

Writers: Harald Oimen, Brian Lew, 2011
Publisher: Bazillion Points
List Price: $ 34.95 (US) / 59.95 (Canada) / 69.95 (rest of the world)
To order click HERE

How many metalheads have at least once wished to be around when the first waves of Metal started hitting the outside boundaries of the society? I can imagine many raised hands especially nowadays where the 80s Thrash revival is on full effect. “Murder In The Front Row” is here, to put everyone in a time-capsule and give him a taste of how the Bay Area Thrash looked (yeah, looked) when it was taking the first baby-steps. The writers have no idea what they were up to when they were taking analog photos (the ones with film in them) of a bunch of teenage bands who little did they know about the melting pot they had put themselves in.

So, Harald and Brian dug out all these photos and put them in a hearty photo-book that, I guarantee you, will take you back in San Francisco where bands like METALLICA, SLAYER, LEGACY (a.k.a. TESTAMENT), EXODUS where in search of a personal sound, deeply inspired by the NWOBHM movement. What is really impressive with this book is the atmosphere surrounding every picture; you can feel the innocence and the burning ambition of these teenagers who wanted to do more, play faster and make a statement to the society that consider them outcasts. The first part from Lew is concentrated around the early (I mean, extremely early) days of METALLICA who knew nothing about being a star of even being in a band. And this means that they were just like their fans, having no barrier in between then. There are some awesome photos with James and Dave looking unaware of the animosity and the troubles that were about to come. Plus, these youngsters wear MOTÖRHEAD and VENOM t-shirts that is a great plus to my mentality. Of course, there is a collection of Cliff photos from his first METALLICA days (actually from his first rehearsal with the band) and to tell you the truth, I was kind of moved seeing him with his characteristic smile, totally unaware of his influential bass work that had to end so abruptly.

Oimen takes the reader by the hand and get him into the clubs where Bay Area Thrash was born and where the fist-banging mania turned into a great lesson in violence. Read how the blood upon the stage EXODUS lyrics were born and how the first mosh-pits and stage-divers looked back in those days. Some of the picture highlights are the Mustaine / King duo, the early SLAYER onstage days, the POSSESSED promo-shoots and of course the EXODUS photos with the legendary Baloff on the vocals. There are times where the nostalgia takes over and makes the reader wander how much this young face have changed their mentality and attitude after all these years and all this success. It really makes you think what takes to change a teenager who is full of energy and passion to become a member of a famous Metal band. But when this happens, what is next?

Well, I am not in the position to answer to this question and in reality, no one will even know apart from the musicians themselves. What I definitely know is that “Murder In The Front Row” is a must-have book for the metalheads who want to know part of the history of their favorite music and want to virtually touch the birth of this most influential Metal scene, without reading much. The dimensions of the book are 9″x11.5″ so the photos look great (remember, this is analog shooting with non-professional equipment), while the notes written by Lew and Harald present they aspect of all those events in San Francisco. Additionally, Gary Holt, Alex Skolnick and Robb Flynn have made a written contribution to this book that is really awesome to read.


+Pros Rare photos that really capture the youth, energy, ambition of those bands who made a difference in Metal.

-Cons Nowadays we are talking about a Thrash revival but deep down inside we know that it is impossible to re-create that atmosphere by simply wearing high tops, spandex and write music like those bands. Sad but true.