For about five years, Decibel magazine Editor-in-Chief Albert Mudrian and his staff of writers collected the stories behind metal's genre-defining landmark albums through the publication's 'Hall of Fame' interview series. Now, the best stories have been compiled into the book 'Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces' (DaCapo Press).

According to the collection's introduction, the project was an exercise in patience as they tolerated countless cold calls, innumerable bounced e-mails and hundreds of hours transcribing interview tapes to create the series and subsequently the book.

"Technically speaking, I guess it took us about four and a half years, when you consider that we've been doing this monthly feature in the magazine since our inception in the summer '04," Mudrian told Noisecreep.

"We've been building a backlog of those features. When we pretty much decided we were going to do the book, the actual process of going back and re-editing the existing pieces expanding them and that kind of stuff that took an additional six months or so. It wasn't exactly like writing a book from scratch because we had these pieces on file. But it was definitely a lot of work going back and making sure that it wasn't the same piece that ran in the magazine that would eventually go in the book."

Highlights of the 365-page book include Ozzy Osbourne's departure from Black Sabbath and their reinvention with 'Heaven and Hell.' The quick rise and fall of Diamond Head, whose thrash classic 'Lightning to the Nations' was basically a one-week recording demo; and a double arrest for Emperor -- the guitarist for arson, the drummer for murder -- that threatened the completion of 'In the Nightside Eclipse.' But one of Mudrian's favorite chapters is the backstory to Monster Magnet's 'Dopes to Infinity.'

"There's a lot of great drama in that one," Mudrian said. "I don't normally care for the he said/she said pieces like that, but that's definitely good. The fact that two of the former members that made that record definitely don't see eye to eye with [frontman] Dave Wyndorf, I think made for some real kind of compelling reading. You definitely got a sense of how that band operated at the time. I think that while they were coming at him, to his credit, Dave didn't dodge any of the accusations. That was definitely a real interesting one."

Another one of Mudrian's favorites is Repulsion's 'Mortified,' because he said a lot of people don't know the genesis of that record.

"It was a demo. It was never originally intended to be an album," Mudrian said. "It was an 18-track demo that got passed around. There are definitely a lot of great stories in there. I think in each one there's some kind of surprising or occasionally amusing revelation, even. Personally, as far as a favorite story, the one on 'Dopes to Infinity,' even though that isn't my favorite records in the book, that's probably my favorite 'Hall of Fame' story."

Mudrian explained there is no formula to choosing the 'Hall of Fame' albums. Instead, he relies on brainstorming with his writers.

"There's no real scientific formula to it at this point, just because I think we've done a lot of what would essentially be no-brainer classics," Mudrian said. "[Slayer's] 'Reign in Blood,' [At the Gates'] 'Slaughter of the Soul' and [Metallica's] 'And Justice for All,' but that one didn't make the final cut of the book.

"At this point, we have a rotating staff of writers who contribute to the 'Hall of Fames,'" he added. "There's probably about six or so regular 'Hall of Fame' writers. It's a lot of e-mails traded back and forth about what we think deserves to be in, what the arguments are for induction, then we try to get a small consensus between us, this works as a 'Hall of Fame' record or this really doesn't.

"There's definitely records I personally love and adore but don't know if I could justify doing a 'Hall of Fame' article on them. You have to do your best to not let personal feelings stand in the way. Even I don't love all the records in the 'Hall of Fame.' I think we've done 56 or so at this point and I think I own about 50 of them personally. Even I don't love all of them, but I try to understand they belong there at times."

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