Eddie Trunk has made quite a name for himself here on the East Coast of the US as one of the most prolific 'torch bearers' of hard rock & metal over the last two decades. As a Radio DJ and now host of VH-1 Classic's That Metal Show, Eddie has remained a relentless champion of all that is 'heavy'. Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is a gorgeous looking book, 240 pages and bursting with color photographs of Eddie's Top 35 most 'essential' bands of the genre. Each chapter of the book is dedicated to one band, and included in the texts is Trunk's recollections of his youth when he first started listening to each act, as well as personal stories of when he met each one at various times in his life (there are some very intriguing stories here). As such, this comes across more like a "Eddie Trunk, this is your life" and the bands that helped shape his love for the music & his career, rather than a flat out list of the essential acts that newbies need to check out. That being said, Trunk includes some mandatory bands here, such as Megadeth, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, KISS, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pantera, Scorpions, Ozzy, Van Halen, Slayer, and more. Major props to him also for including UFO (one of his personal favorites) and Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Rush, and Queen, though with all these really 'heavy' groups it's kind of odd that Poison, Billy Squire, Tesla, and a few other lighter acts also show up here. Die hard metal heads will certainly have issue with a few of these picks, but hey, that's who Trunk adores, so who are we to argue. There's also a 'more essential' section near the rear of the book that gives quick mention to Dream Theater, Queensryche, Accept, Whitesnake, Overkill, Ratt, Dokken, and a bunch more, some of which could have easily made a lot of sense to include in the main listing.
All in all, a fun read but hardly 'essential', but you have to give props to Abrams Imaging for really doing a great job with the layout, and the photos are spectacular. Those who are unfamiliar with Eddie Trunk or his shows and are looking for some of the extreme acts of the last two decades can forget it, as Mr. Trunk rarely if ever gives any coverage to those type of bands, which is kind of a shame as he kind of comes across here as a longtime fan who perhaps might be a little out of touch with the current scene. As a historian of the classic bands however, few can top him.