Book Review – Desolation: A Heavy Metal Memoir By Mark Morton

4/5

For a band known for its blisteringly live shows and its dark, heavy-as-lead sound, Lamb Of God co-founder and guitarist Mark Morton comes across remarkably vulnerable in his wildly compelling memoir.

Written with the help of Ben Opipari, the book opens on one of Morton’s lowest moments, dopesick in a hotel across the street from Madison Square Garden where he and his band are opening a series of shows for their music heroes in Metallica, but he’s at his hotel desk trying to do the math and figure out how much of the high grade Oxycodone he can take and be straight enough to play the show while still being high enough to satisfy his growing addiction. Described in excruciating detail, it’s just one of many scenarios in the book where Morton is willing to be vulnerable to his readers.

He then pivots to his childhood, being a chubby kid growing up in Williamsburg, VA with little interest until he discovers the guitar, punk, and metal music. What follows is a captivating story about slugging it out in regional scenes, playing tiny clubs and warehouse shows to a small but dedicated army of fans from Richmond to Philly, signing to a niche metal label before finally getting snatched up by a larger label, and eventually conquering the world as one of the biggest metal bands to come out of the 1990s with plenty of setbacks here and there.

Along the way, Morton flirts with Behind The Music staples of booze and drugs before finally righting the ship. Written with frank honesty, Morton not only touches on the lows but the many highs as well that have followed, coming across as grounded and grateful.

Even if you’re not a fan of metal, Desolation is an absorbing read and a truly compelling book in a genre—the rock memoir—that is too often littered with self-absorption and little reflection.

Purchase this book.  

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