Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hellbent for Cooking

I was visiting Armageddon Shop in Providence a few days ago, soaking up the unintentional comedy and genuine graphical genius you can find in equal measure on the LP covers in the metal section, when I noticed this book from Bazillion Points books out of Brooklyn:

The idea of a metal cookbook definitely seems like a joke and one would guess that even if you got the concept off the ground, the actual book would turn out worthless either to cooks, metal fans, or both. But, this book seems to have been put together with the perfect balance of humor and dutiful respect to both food and to the musical culture of metal. More than that, it has nice graphic design and food photography and a great glossy feel to the pages.

Asking metal bands to submit recipes also seems like a terrible idea, opening yourself up to getting dumb, jokey recipes like "Bacon and American cheese and Beer and Cigarette Butts" or something. And although some of the American bands' recipes approach that level of stupidity, the book's real strength lies in the global nature of metal. Many of the bands featured here hail from far-flung countries with strong culinary traditions and they seem adorably eager to share them with you. Probably all the contributors, who include members of Amebix, Brutal Truth, Budgie, Electric Wizard, Eyehategod, Judas Priest, Mayhem, Nuclear Assault, Obituary, Pentagram, Possessed, Saint Vitus, and Sepultura, were excited to be a part of a project that would highlight the lesser-known, improbably friendly side of metal that is typified by the sharing of local foods and imbibes between international touring bands and their hosts.

One disappointment here, though is Annick “The Morbid Chef” Giroux's curatorial Chef's notes. She seems hesitant to criticize the recipes of any of her contributors, legendary or not, and so we are left with mostly fawning notes on every dish that invariably end with an exclamation point. This has her coming off as more of a metal cheerleader than the clever editor she was in compiling this book.

One of the most touching recipes here is from the mother of Phil Lynott, the late frontman of Thin Lizzy, who tells us that her Irish Roast Leg of Lamb was her son's favorite. Isn't it an interesting bit of revisionist history that Thin Lizzy have become so embraced and beloved by the metal community in recent years when during their career they were regarded as more of a groovy, heavy-rock band that was probably held at arm's length by metalheads? In hindsight I agree that musically and stylistically Thin Lizzy do belong in the pantheon of proto-metal godfathers like Sabbath and Hawkwind, but that's probably because I come from the same generation as the young metal fans who have brought this view into fashion: the crusty punks, travelling kids, scensters, stoner audiophiles, and skater dirtbags. These neophytes have have swelled metal's ranks in the past 20 years, bringing DIY ethics and energy from the punk scene and shaped it's new sophistication. One might argue that without that injection metal would just be the overblown commercial joke you see in things like Rock Band and on VH1 specials, and there would be no shops like Armageddon (owned by Ben, formerly of the hardcore crusty thrash band DROPDEAD) and no books like Hellbent for Cooking.

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