Book / AudiobookReviews

David E. Gehlke: Damn the Machine, The Story of Noise Records

Publisher: Deliberation press   (German version: Iron Pages)  Release: 2017  Pages: 504


The name of Noise Records should be familiar to most Metalheads, especially to the veterans of the scene. This book details the story of this German, Berlin-based label, which was founded 1983 and finally sold in 2001 to Sanctuary. Nothing seems to be a more boring topic! At least this is what I thought. However, I was wrong because this book turned out to be different. It is not only informative but also entertaining and well-paced.

When you take a closer look to the history of the label, especially to the early phase in the 80s, it becomes obvious why. In those years not only the NWoBHM was flourishing, but also the German Metal scene. Young and hungry bands like Helloween, Gravedigger, Running Wild, Kreator and Rage emerged on the German Metal map. And all of them (and some more) were signed by Noise Records. Therefore, the history of the label is directly connected with the history of the mentioned bands. Author David A. Gehlke has the story come alive by quoting plenty of contemporary witnesses. There is of course label staff (especially founder Karl-Ulrich Walterbach and the former director Antje Lange), musicians of numerous bands (beside the ones mentioned also of Celtic Frost, Voivod, Watchtower, Coroner, Tankard and Sabbat). The hard work Gehlke has done becomes obvious when taking a closer look at the long list of acknowledgements.

This approach does not only make this book very enjoyable. It also shows that every coin has two sides. While musicians often utter dissatisfaction with their labels, the labels normally do not comment on their bands. When reading “Damn the Machine” it becomes obvious how the music business works and how the different wheels are connected. There is for example one very interesting fact that appears again and again: Many young bands receiving an offer by a label are so wise to have  the offered contract checked by a lawyer. Their judgement is always the same: Do not sign it! But what do they do? They sign the contract! I guess that this is a circumstance fitting to nearly every band new in the business, regardless of the label. No wonder that conflicts are unavoidable.

To perfect the book there are also the prologue of Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) and the epilogue of Walterbach himself. While the choosing of Walterbach is obvious, I don’t quite get the point why Hansi Kürsch, because Blind Guardian have never been on Noise Records. But it is not a big thing, because the prologue is very entertaining and all relevant artists from Noise Records can tell their story later on.

Finally I would like to give a clear recommendation for this book. If you are interested in background information on Metal business or information about the Jurassic period of German Metal, this one is for you! Actually there are dozens of artist biographies, but none of them create such a comprehensive overview. Although Gehlke sometimes jumps a little bit on and off the timeline, it is easy to read and always easy to follow the story.

Deliberation Press Website

German version,  IP Verlag Website

  • 9/10
    Bewertung / rating - 9/10

Timo Pässler - reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - - - Power, Speed, Melodic, Symphonic and Thrash Metal, sometimes also Black and Death Metal, when I am in mood for it - - - Favorite bands? - - - Blind Guardian, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Powerwolf, Kreator, Vader, Avantasia, Iced Earth, Amon Amarth and many more! - - - Other interests? - - - Music (listening + playing), sports, acting and scouts

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