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Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins by Ian Abrahams book review

Factually exhaustive, narratively dull

Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins by Ian Abrahams book cover

There are two ways you can view this book. On the one hand, if what you want is an in-depth representation of the space rock pioneers’ career, then this is what you need on your shelf.

It’s the sort of book with really remarkable attention to detail, giving you the background on every member of the band across the decades, plus information on the dates for significant events. But on other hand, the lopsided attention to factual info ensures Sonic Assassins is more than a little boring to read as anything other than a reference work. What’s made Hawkwind one of the most fascinating bands of the past five decades are the characters involved in the twisting – and twisted – tale. But what this book lacks is… character. It’s hard to be overly negative about a book that has obviously been well researched – Abrahams is a man you feel you can trust when it comes to being accurate on the minutiae. Yet you can’t help but feel that he has also failed to capture the essence of what has given Hawkwind such an enduring and vibrant impact – and that extends to the lack of imagination in the cover art and even the page layouts within too. Carol Clerk’s 2004 epic The Saga Of Hawkwind still remains the best Hawkwind tome by a space‑rocking mile.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio, which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.