Martin Popoff has churned out 15 other books - on everyone from Blue Oyster Cult and Rush to Rainbow and Dio - and he is truly one of the more highly-regarded researcher/writers in the rock field. His books consistently are well-documented and informed, and though he does rely on external sources (previously written articles/books), he doesn't simply rewrite pre-existing references. The author has done due diligence and conducted interviews with the band itself,
supplementing these conversations with direct quotes from key figures like Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice, Ian Gillan, Tony Martin, and Glenn Hughes.
Popoff is a fan of the band - in fact, it's probably safe to say that he's a huge admirer of all the artists about whom he writes - and that is a good thing and a bad thing. The positive aspect is that he attempts to cover all the bases, from album releases and tours, the chronology, the development, personnel changes, and that type of thing. The negative aspect of a fan-based accounting is that there is never a mean word expressed nor a derogatory statement included. Every song is brilliant and every solo timeless. But Martin crosses that line by uncovering the massive drug intake and the drinking and the laissez faire attitude that permeated many of the band's mid-career recordings.
In other words, he's willing to reveal the dirt and not sweep it under the carpet.
If there's any drawback to Martin's info-intensive book, it's the writing itself. He's a workmanlike journalist, if not the world's most creative and insightful scribe. Some of the sentences become drawn out clauses linked to clauses and you sometimes forgot the line's - which sometimes represented an entire paragraph - main premise.
"So yes, there was a period of futzing about, of loitering, followed by a random, fateful sonic eqrth-shattering ... both of these hapless happenstances would underscore the sorry fact that these four Birmingham bashers were punks railing against their soot-obscured lot, looking for a way out through volume and the crude delivery thereof."You understand what Popoff is trying to say - you just need to write it a couple of times to truly digest it. But that's
okay. He doesn't make any pretense about being the Tom Robbins of rock journalism and in his way, the style works. It's honest and full of enthusiasm, and by the final page, you understand the story.
Doom Let Loose is supplemented with some terrific graphics, group shots, concert photos, and bits of memorabilia (alternate album cover pics, handbills, print articles, even a photo of guitarist Tony Iommi's now-famous digitally-challenged right hand
- read the book to learn how this happened).
There are a lot of books out there on Black Sabbath. Popoff's look at them takes on a slightly new perspective, and that makes it a worthwhile read.