The idea of writing a book counting down the 666 most essential metal albums of all time would be a daunting one to most, but life-long metal fan Chip McCabe jumped at the chance to do just that. Initially an idea for a website that wanted McCabe to list the top 100 metal albums of all time (see here for our last interview with McCabe talking about the project), McCabe quickly realized that narrowing the list down to just 100 would be difficult. But the website balked at the idea of having anything to do with “666” so McCabe started a blog to do it himself. Writing about one album a day for 666 consecutive days (yeesh, someone get this guy a beer), McCabe (who also once spent time working at Relapse Records and runs The Metal Dad website) has now collected the finished product in his book, 666 Days of Metal.
“I joke with my wife that heavy metal has been my mistress for as long as I can remember,” chuckles McCabe when we get him on the phone to chat. “When I first got turned on to the genre when I was 11 or 12, there was something about it. It felt a little dangerous, a little evil for a kid who had a Christian upbringing, and there was just something about the music that was so mysterious and so fun, and it’s never lost that edge for me. So when I listen to a new album that I’ve never heard before or I go back and listen to music from my youth, I feel that same love, that same vibe. It’s never diminished over time for me.”
In the book, McCabe counts down from album 666 to album 1, a monumental task and one made all the more impressive by the variety of subgenres represented here, and the knowledge that McCabe has about them all. But he says he didn’t force any subgenres in the book.
“My tastes are that eclectic, man,” he says. “I didn’t put doom in there just to appease doom fans. I really love doom metal. Same thing goes for grind, or thrash, or black metal, or whatever it is. The albums that are in that book are in there because I think they’re essential to not only the history of metal but the formation of all these little subgenres we have all over the scene.”
McCabe says that the book serves a purpose both for newcomers to metal, who can read about and discover classic albums from before their time, and for seasoned metal vets, who can use it to re-discover how great these albums are.
“You could read it like a religious person reads a devotional book, where they go and read that one bible passage every day,” he says. “You could read one album every day and go back and revisit that album and spend time with it. It’s really meant for connoisseurs of the genre, whether you’re new to it or you’re up to your neck in it.”
And, unlike most other books about metal out there, you won’t find any AC/DC or Led Zeppelin here; instead, McCabe keeps it strictly metal, offering up space instead to underground basically-forgotten heroes like Watchmaker or Ed Gein.
“I made a point that I wasn’t going to allow album sales or popularity dictate which bands and albums would be on the list and how they would rank,” he says. “It was more important to me to include a band like, say, Crisis from New York than it was Slipknot. That was one of my favorite parts; including these bands that have kind of been forgotten over time.”