During the early 1980s, when heavy metal was defined by MTV and mile-high hair, San Francisco’s small community of dedicated headbangers scorned image and instead risked life and limb in search of the ultimate in musical thrills.
272pp full-color hardcover
Dimensions: 9.25″ x 11.5″ x 1″ (235mm x 292mm x 25.4mm); 4 lbs. (1.8 kg)
“Awesome”—Brian Slagel, Metal Blade Records
“Fucking awesome”—Kerry King, Slayer
“Great”—Lars Ulrich, Metallica
“AMAZING”—Alex Skolnick, Testament
“Thank you for writing this book! It’s the definitive story of the scene and what we managed to make of it here in the Bay Area.”—Kirk Hammett, Metallica
“Murder in the Front Row captures the true essence of thrash metal in its embryonic stage. These photographs take me on a tour down memory lane, bringing back many laughs and prompting comments like: ‘I don’t remember that!'”—Dave Lombardo, Slayer
“Truly essential…a snapshot of a period in history that was thrilling, raw, violent, and visceral”—Joel McIver, Record Collector UK [5/5 stars]
“Harald O., the craziest photographer of all”—BAM
During the early 1980s, when heavy metal was defined by MTV and mile-high hair, San Francisco’s small community of dedicated headbangers scorned image and instead risked life and limb in search of the ultimate in musical thrills. Locals Exodus and Los Angeles transplants Metallica reigned in small clubs like the Old Waldorf, The Stone, and the infamous East Bay bastion of heaviness, Ruthie’s Inn. Thrash metal upstarts Slayer and Megadeth found a second home in the Bay Area, while a homegrown breed of tempo-crazed teenagers like Legacy, Possessed, Death Angel, Heathen, and Vio-lence brought Bay Area thrash metal to critical mass.
Photographers Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew were dodging bodies from the very start, in front of the stage, backstage, and on the stage itself. They captured the public victories and private parties of a scene where fans and musical idols were equally hellbent on faster, heavier music and endless outrageous fun. Oimoen and Lew fought on the frontline of a war for individuality, snapping frame by frame as thrash metal was born, along with stagediving, crowd-walking, and countless other magical moments filled with key local personalities.
Somewhere along the way, Oimoen and Lew’s friends in Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth became legends. Today, the Big Four thrash metal bands pictured in this book are the reigning elder statesmen of heavy metal. Their fellow ragers in Exodus, D.R.I., Testament, Death Angel, Possessed, and Forbidden remain ambassadors of a Bay Area metal scene that continues to thrive and command fascination around the world.
This stunning volume collects over 400 amazing color and black-and-white photos, plus passionate personal accounts by Bay Area veterans Harald Oimoen, Brian Lew, Ron Quintana of Metal Mania, Gary Holt of Exodus, Alex Skolnick of Testament, and Robb Flynn of Machine Head. From DIY origins to world domination, the Bay Area thrash metal scene screams to life in these fearless pages.
“This will not be a history book, but rather a time machine back to the ‘bonded by blood’ days of the original Bay Area Metal scene. Before they played the Bay Area, Slayer wore makeup onstage—after that first Bay Area show they never wore makeup again. This book will show people why.”—Brian Lew
Bang the Head That Doesn’t Bang: fifteen songs that dominated Bay Area parties (via Spotify):