Music-based memoirs are always entertaining, especially when the detail shapes how the reader perceives the author through the magic of song. Angelo G. Spenillo’s I Am A Professional Metalhead: How Heavy Metal Guided My Career Journey goes a step further by not only relating his life through his personal love of heavy metal, but also how it affected his career as a successful lawyer. Through this marriage of two seemingly different worlds, he also reveals how the greater aspects of metal can be related to anyone’s professions (not just law) and everyday life with a different perspective. The book is broken down into five parts: the basics of heavy metal; his foundational metal journey; his career path; how he applies the ‘lessons’ learned from heavy metal to business; and some personal metal tales that highlight all things great about the genre. It’s a ride that entertains as much as it inspires.
Born and raised in New Jersey, he finds metal in the early ‘80s through albums such as Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and Alive! by Kiss, the sound and image hitting that inner chord that most headbangers know oh-so-well. The glam metal era of the time becomes his obsession, learning the rudiments of guitar and getting friends together for a few school talent shows and, eventually, proper bands. Without MTV in his house, he finds new bands to love only through friends and magazines (it was the ‘80s, kids!), but refuses to reach further or heavier than hair metal, something that divides him from the few like-minded fans in his life. Once Nirvana almost single-handedly changes the musical landscape, he feels lost and unsure of where to head, like so many others at the time.
White Zombie confirmed it long ago; you too can be “More Human Than Human!”
With a push from his parents, he decides to aim for a career in law and heads off to college. Here, he finally has access to MTV, gets to grow his hair, and becomes a college metal DJ, where he starts to find new sounds and bands that are totally different to his beloved glam. Not only does he start to understand and love new groups like Fear Factory, White Zombie, and Sepultura, he also catches as many live shows as humanly possible and joins better and stronger bands. Once he starts his professional life, however, he cuts the hair and sets off to be the best he can be.
From here, we see him boldly head where he thinks he wants (and needs) to be, only to leave Fortune 500 companies and cushy, well-paid jobs and pull out of law altogether to try out being a musician and also work in a guitar store, where he feels fulfilled and can be around musicians and play guitar all day. He learns more about himself, interacting with people, and what his boundaries are, all of which lead him towards finally and satisfactorily ending up as an in-house lawyer. It’s a very real and human road that he takes the reader on, but the journey gives him all the tools that he needs to find his place in the world.
A must-listen, this is the about-to-be-mentioned Spotify playlist:
Spenillo writes in such a way that you really feel for him when times get dark and want to high-five him when success comes his way (which it does quite often – he’s no slacker and works eagerly towards his goals). His stories interweave with his friendships, relationships, and love-life, not to mention his meetings with his metal heroes over the years and what he took away from them (for instance, his chance meet with Tracii Guns backstage which opens up a whole new world from a musical perspective). With a large amount of the book involving American law, how it works, and his specific directions and duties, it could have been a laborious read, but his infectious personality and constant metal-isms keep it one of those can’t-put-it-down-until-the-end reads. Heck, he even gives you a link to a Spotify playlist that he meticulously crafted to listen to as you read the book, so you have a soundtrack for each part of the journey – that’s pretty cool.
As a voracious reader of metal-related books, I found it to be a really cool spin on the metal fan biography, and the insights that he takes from the genre to use in his professional life were both inspiring and had me having a long, hard think about areas that I would like to improve for myself. Even if the book wasn’t a thoroughly enjoyable read, and it most certainly is, the inspirational content of I Am A Professional Metalhead alone is worth your time and it will make a worthy addition to any headbanger’s bookshelf.
Written By: Angelo G. Spenillo (Author), Megan Prikhodko (Editor)
Publisher: Independently Published
Release Date: December 9, 2019
Format / Length: Paperback / 202 Pages