MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW: Shots From the Bay Area Thrash Metal Epicenter, by Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew

MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW: Shots From the Bay Area Thrash Metal Epicenter, by Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew

Original price was: $39.95.Current price is: $36.95.

“The definitive story of the scene and what we managed to make of it here in the Bay Area.”—Kirk Hammett, Metallica

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• ISBN 978-1-935950-03-5
• 272pp full-color hardcover
• Dimensions: 9.25″ x 11.5″ x 1″ (235mm x 292mm x 25.4mm); 4 lbs. (1.8 kg)


“Awesome”—Robb Flynn, Machine Head
“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”—Record Collector UK [5/5 stars]
“Harald O., the craziest photographer of all”—BAM

Now a majorly murderous motion picture! Streaming and DVD available everywhere.

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

Check out Decibel‘s street tour of Murder in the Front Row photo locations with coauthors Brian Lew and Harald Oimoen: 

Weight 4 lbs


  1. Harald O.

    Yo !! I am so FRIGGIN psyched on this I’m gonna explode !!!I can’t wait til yer average metalhead trips on this !! This is a major MILESTONE for Bay Area METAL !!!

  2. Tara G. Warrior

    Just when I think that I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of the Bazillion Points family…This will be a rager of a book!

  3. Anthony Z

    FUCKIN’ SICK! Im grabbing a copy m/

  4. B


  5. Falloutzine

    This is fucken killer. I really hope you guys do a book tour with this so people can hear some of the stories to go along with it and maybe a bit of Q&A. That would be awesome!

  6. Texmetal

    This looks awesome. As an avid reader of all metal, I can’t wait to get this book on my favorite and and style of metal: THRASH! I’ll be a first day buyer!

  7. Ktulu

    I’m foaming, I can’t wait for it, really I can’t.

  8. Jim C

    It’s going to bring back so many memories, some sad some will kick my ass but mostly it will make me proud that I was there!!

  9. cristie carter

    Yes! Sweetness! Good job boyz can’t wait to get my little paws on this one!

  10. shadowe

    Oh I KNOW this is good, cant wait to see the photos and read the book! I can only Imagen the depth of what we are about to read.

  11. shandog

    man i cant wait for this,i was there at ruthies,the stone,the mab and the omni.

  12. Terry

    This book is going to be gnarly, I can’t fuckin’ wait, my head is going to explode in anticipation.

  13. Malek

    Harald! No doubt I will pick up a copy! Hail the Bay Area! Cheers! M

  14. anonymous

    This is a long time coming. Can you think of two better representatives for the Bay Area scene of the period. No way!Thanks BP!

  15. Doug

    with Photography, I always want to photograph something I want to remember and this book will go down in History for that. Thanks to Harald and Brian for sharing this History. I can only imagine the chatter and laughs when Brian and Harald and showing this book to the Bands for the first time…

    • Harald O.

      Hell Yeah !! I didn’t even think how cool it’s gonna be to show the finished product to Tom Araya..Jaymz Hatfield or Dave Mustaine himself !! Yeah this book is gonna be the BOMB!

  16. Anthony Z

    Can anyone tell me when the release date for this is? Or how much it will be?

  17. Dan_Switzerland

    I received MEAN DEVIATION (four decades of prog heavy metal) months ago : just incredibly GREATbut this new one looks even more AWESOMEcan’t wait to get mine !!!greetings from CORONER + CELTIC FROST homeland

    • admin


  18. Denise Daly


  19. skeletonsofsociety

    Umlaut, H.O, Bazillion, someone…preorder? Release date info?Ive been trying to/wanting to preorder this thing since i learned of it in guitar world (or some mag) months ago. Seriously, take my money! I want, i need this publication!

  20. Guilherme Nozawa

    Historical !!! Can’t wait to grab mine !!!

  21. Futural

    I met Harald “Osteoporosis” last saturday in Bogot√°, Colombia (D.R.I. was there, in order to play at “Rock Al Parque” festival ¬°awesome show!) and He’s a great guy. I bought ONLY DEATH IS REAL,from Bazillion and I’ll buy METALION: The Slayer Mag Diaries in july I hope it doesn’t sold out so quickly but MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW willbe an instant CLASSIC a must have for a real metalhead, wow! a testimony from the 80’s, when it will be available? Thank you.

  22. Lance O Skitzo

    We can’t wait to take this sucker on the road to read! You have been talking about this book for a long time….finally man! Keep me in the loop when it is born. Thanks~ Lance & the gang….green…vomit…crew.

  23. Dan_Switzerland

    Coming December 13, 2011wait a minute … how did you know it was my birthday ???(no kidding, I’m about to turn 45 on Dec. 13, metal-head since 1981).anyway, thanks in advance for bringing back a flood of old memories (YES, I’ll be 16 once again !).

  24. Laurent

    I remember seeing for the first time the photos of Brian and Harald in a french magazine called Enfer magazine… Then I jumped into SF thrash metal scene !

  25. speedmetalrules

    This is going to be the best fucking book ever! Since I didn’t get into metal until ’85, I missed out on alot of the early scene. It’s going to be great to see these treasures. I’m ordering my copy today. Thanks for putting this together…if you’re not a metal head you might as well be dead!!

  26. MetallateM

    Killer ! On top of the limited dustjacket, will there be any signed copy by the authors for preorder ?

    • BazilliON

      We don’t want to make it too easy. We supply the books, but you must hunt down Harald O. somewhere on D.R.I. tour and the elusive √úmlaut yourself… !

  27. Leah Storkson

    I have one more day to wait for this book to come in the mail, my mailman is probably gonna get a giant clobbering hug that will throw him on the floor!!!!!! Hurry up! Dammitt!! CheersLeah

  28. Dan_Switzerland

    … and I remember several monthly trips to France (Annemasse) on my bicycle, because ENFER MAG wasn’t available in Geneva (Switzerland). It was back in 1983.Then we discovered another french mag, METAL ATTACK. … and the (british) METAL FORCES …… it was the golden age for demo tapes …… SHADES in London to get records ….I feel really lucky to have been 20 in the middle of the 80’s..MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW is a kind of a family photobook for us. Thanks Bazillion !.NB what about a book about METAL FORCES in the same way (or not) you did for SLAYER MAG ?

  29. Filip

    If i order the book through amazon will the dustjacket be included? the book wil be available at Amazon dec 28th… cheers! Filip

    • admin

      The poster/dustjacket is only available here through Bazillion Points, thanks for asking!

  30. Katie

    I live in the SF Bay Area and pre-ordered “Murder in the Front Row” on Dec. 2nd, the night Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew were on THE METAL ZONE on’107.7 The Bone’ with Nikki Black. My brother has been talking about this book for months, and as a lifelong Bay-Area-Proud Metalhead, I think he’s as excited about this gift as he is his new Baritone guitar!

  31. MetallateM

    Hahaha! Watch out Harald O & Umlaut, i’m coming after you ! Still waiting for this killer book to reach me. Thanks Ian + Bazillion Points, this should be the be(a)st book to close year 2011 !

  32. Crowe

    I read about this book in the Silicon Valley Metro weekly paper; It was simple to order and it arrived promptly for the holidays. My brother is certain to enjoy this tome of thrash!Thanks, Bazillion Points!

  33. Alexandre Bill

    My book arrived yesterday!!! Greatest pics, quality and words!!! Awesome!!! First in Brasil!!!! Thank you!Cheers from S√£o Paulo/Brasil!

  34. MetallateM

    Finally got the book. Killer Fuckin’ Killer !

  35. Joey guns

    Thanks so much for publishing this piece of Metal history. Notice no “devil horns” until circa 1985, Rick Hunolt with light bulb on his head. Looks like middle fingers in the air was the norm. Seriously though, these pics say so much, some I recognize from when I was a kid and used to rip pages out of magazines and plaster my bedroom walls.This is awesome.

  36. Francesco R.

    I just received this amazing book, every thrash lover should absolutely own one! It’s full of wonderful pics never seen before. Congrats to Harald O. and Bazillion Points on this masterpiece!!!

  37. Bruno

    Ae alexandre,como você fez pra comprar esse livro?Tô louco pra comprar mas num sei como faz.

    • admin

      Compr√°-lo aqui!

      • Bruno

        Sim,mas a duvida que eu tenho é como comprar ele aqui em Brasil.

  38. Trent Samford

    Hello Bazillion Points You guys kick Major Fucking Ass!!!!!!!!!! Murder in the front row is beautiful.I have always wanted a book like this. Surely my favorite book Ever!!!!! Thank You.

  39. Chuck P

    Just got my copy in the mail… Awesome pics, actually found myself in the crowd on page 183…damn, we were young once 😛

  40. Mark R

    Hey Guys- A friend just brought me your book and it is INCREDIBLE!! Thank you so much for this amazing documentation of such a crucial period for music!! Your footprint is now ETERNAL. Just fucking so engaging, such an intimate closeness through your photos and words, i can’t thank you enough for sharing! You guys fucking RULE!!!! All the best~ Mark

  41. marcos

    garanto que vai ser mais que bom vai ser otimo

  42. terri

    Couldnt wait to get this book. I keep telling todays youngsters about my life with metal. ruthies inn,berkeley keystone fillmore crest all these awsome shows we went to. now I have photos. Bayloff was my neighbor in berkeley. RIP

  43. Jerry

    Awesome !!!!….but…..where’s the fold-out life size poster of Toby Rage diving off the Ruthie’s stage?

  44. Tour Manager Doug

    Best book ever

  45. Evil Mayhem

    Fuckin killer !

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