Decibel’s ambitious goal to categorize 25 of metal’s time-honored albums at times falls flat on its face. It begins promisingly with Slayer’s Reign in Blood analysis and continues with Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness up through modern metal opuses like Opeth’s Orchid and Meshuggah’s Destroy Erase Improve.

Halfway through the table of contents though, I wonder where Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Sepultura are. My confusion continues when they consider stoner rock outfit Kyuss and Monster Magnet as “extreme metal” bands. Given the subjective nature of a “best-of” list, I was hardly expecting a unanimous approval of each album mentioned.

J. Bennett authors more than half the book and delivers the kind of quality analysis that can turn a clueless metalhead into music genius deity. It makes up for some of the trip ups and lack of substantial information some of the other writers provide.

Grade: C+

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