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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 (opens in new tab), 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. 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.