Machine Head guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn along with Exodus’ Gary Holt, Testament’s Alex Skolnick, and other Bay Area thrash metallers are contributors to the new book ‘Murder In The Front Row: Shots From The Bay Area Thrash Metal Epicenter.’ Brian Lew and Harald Oimoen, two thrash survivors firmly entrenched in the scene, snapped countless shots and have now recently released the book, a photographic odyssey through the inception of Bay Area thrash.

Here’s an excerpt from the book written by Flynn:

“I became totally obsessed. I punched a kid and broke his nose at an ANTHRAX show at the Kabuki for saying [Exodus guitarist] Gary Holt sucked. Yes, I was a thrasher, willing to fight and bang and bleed for my thrash metal gods.”

“It was an incredible time. It was violent, it was dangerous, it was drug- and alcohol-fueled, you had to learn to tell the wolves from the sheep, and girls suddenly thought I was cool. I became completely and utterly enamored with this world. We had no idea that moment was so special, happening right here in our own backyard. Our musical leaders captured the fears of teenagers growing up in the nuclear age, harnessed the hearts of the rebellious, and taught us to ‘fight! For what you believe to be right! Crush it with all your might!’ That is the moment that we now know as thrash metal.”

According to a press release: “Flynn is pictured in the book in very early promo photos of FORBIDDEN (then FORBIDDEN EVIL) and later live shots of VIO-LENCE. The book runs the gamut of Bay Area history metal history, capturing METALLICA, SLAYER, and MEGADETH’s earliest shows; sacred moments including Cliff Burton’s first rehearsal with Metallica and the very first meeting of Metallica and Slayer; the violent excess of hometown heroes Exodus; the infernal adolescents POSSESSED; and much more with over 400 photos in all. From the beginning, 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 the key local personalities that made thrash happen.” 

It’s music that people on the outside looking in don’t understand,” says Gary Holt, the pioneering lead guitarist of Richmond’s Exodus. “It’s too fast, too aggressive, too in-your-face.”

Or as Chuck Billy, lead singer of Oakland’s long-standing band Testament, puts it, “There’s always been this cloud of taboo that hovers over thrash metal for some dark reason.”

 “The thrash scene, as far as metal goes, is one of the most influential scenes ever,” Lew says. With its insistence on pushing metal to new extremes, thrash prefigured all the genres that would crop up in its wake, including death metal, black metal and any other style that ratchets up the revolting possibilities inherent in heavy metal. “A lot of it started here, and it’s not really known.” 

Read a fantastic article on the Bay Area Thrash scence here:

Check out a video preview of the book:

Read more about the book and order here.