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Picture book "Metal Cats" appeals to Headbangers, not Photography enthusiasts

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The first book for Alexandra Crockett, “Metal Cats”, is a lovely idea for a niche audience. The 5” x 7” paperback collection includes about 150 photos of what Crockett refers to as “Metal Dudes”, and their feline pets. Anyone familiar with the Internet knows putting a cat in anything automatically attracts an audience. Making a specific genre of music and its participants the focus of this pet book further narrows its possible readership. With the combination of something fluffy and something hardcore, the book’s author attempts to offer a book that breaks down stereotype of both.

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“Metal Cats” presumes its audience subscribes to the archetypes of feline owners and Metal musicians, thus offering images that shatter those preconceived notions. Unfortunately, there is far from an original idea in the histories of Art, Photography, or Celebrity Culture. Images of lofty personaes and their domestic critters can seen as far back as Egyptian hieroglyphics, in the Victorian paintings of royalty, and throughout the history of Photography. The cat has been a subject of countless Artists and Writers through the ages—most notably Ernest Hemingway. One element of charm this book relies on is the “softening” of men assumed to be uncaring and dogmatic—an image furthered by the lore of Metal music and its romance with murder, Satanism, violent mosh pits, and excessive partying.

But with so much celebrity exposure in the modern era and wider acceptance and blending of all types of people, even that stereotype has all but disappeared. The once assumed hard, homophobic Thrash/Black/Death/Heavy Metal crowd has slowly diminished since Judas Priests’ Rob Halford came out as gay in 1998. Nowadays, when rockers like Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert of Progressive Metal band Cynic come out as gay, or Against Me!’s Tom Gabel announced his transgender transition into Laura Jane Grace, we hardly bat an eyelash. That said, a book featuring Metal musicians with their furry felines is hardly revolutionary.

In her Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign for the book, Crockett explains the idea for this project came from her access to the musicians in the Metal scene, rather than as a professional Photographer. Her lack of photo experience shows in the photographs, which mostly look like casual snapshots or college photo projects rather than the refined, creative work of a seasoned Artist ready her a career-launching photo book. There is very little deliberate “story telling” or evocative content in her images. Some of the photos are blurry, over exposed, poorly composed, look more like outtakes than finished works of art. More polished celebrity/pet photography can be seen in the work of Photographer Christopher Ameruoso, who published “Pets and Their Celebrities” back in 1998, followed by “Pets and Their Stars”.

One thing this book has going for it is offering a product to the niche market of cat-loving Metal music fans. It is reminiscent of 80’s and 90’s publications such as Metal Edge, Circus, and RIP Magazine, or Penelope Spheris’ music documentary “Metal Years”, where fans could get an inside glimpse into the lives of the musicians they loved most—nothing refined, but rather raw and honest. In this way, the book is interesting to fans looking for a bit more than what press interviews and editorial typically reveal about the artists. One drawback of "Metal Cats" is the assumption reader will know who all the people featured in the book are. If not, it's rather tedious to flip back-and-forth to the appendix list to find out who the musician is in each photo.

The other bonus of buying this book, or attending one of its book release parties this month is that a percentage of proceeds go to animal shelters (40% according to author's the Indiegogo campaign). With millions of abused, abandoned, and unwanted pets in the United States, and thousands of underfunded animal shelters and rescues, any and all efforts to raise funds and awareness on behalf of animals is appreciated and needed. That alone is reason enough to buy this inexpensive book (which sells for under $10 at Amazon.com, even if bought as a novel gift or coffee table/waiting room/bathroom reading material. “Metal Cats” is hosting at least three book release parties across the country, including live music by some of the bands featured in the book. The events are: Seattle on May 10th, New York City on May 17th, and Los Angeles on May 31st. For more info on these happenings and the pet rescues benefiting from the events, visit : https://www.facebook.com/metaldudescats.

If you are a fan of the harder, darker genres of Metal, you will enjoy flipping through this book once. If you want a fun, inexpensive gift idea for a Metal and/or feline appreciator that also benefits animal rescues, consider buying a few copies of “Metal Cats”. But if you are looking for an impressive book of Fine Art or evocative Photography, you are better off donating ten dollars directly to your local animal rescue and saving up for collectible, hardback Fine Art photo books.

“Metal Cats” by Alexandra Crockett
Published by PowerHouse Books
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Can be purchased at: www.Amazon.com

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