The second I read the news about the pending release of Perpetual Conversion: 30 Years & Counting in the Life of Metal Veteran Dan Lilker, I was instantly intrigued. After all, Lilker has been part of some of the best underground metal bands of the last few decades. Since first appearing on wax in the mid-'80s, the bassist has been a member of Anthrax, S.O.D., Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth, The Ravenous, and a bunch of other killer bands. Hell, one of his former groups, the black metal outfit Hemlock, even released a split 10" with my former band, Black Army Jacket. So, yes, Lilker has been one of the busiest musicians on the metal circuit for years now.
Written by Dave Hofer, Perpetual Conversion features Lilker retracing stories all the way back to his childhood in Queens, New York to his current status as a heavy metal elder statesman. The book also includes contributions from the musicians he's collaborated with, and other friends and family, sharing insider insight into the bassist's colorful life and career.
I already knew a lot about the circumstances around his firing from Anthrax, and the formation of S.O.D., from reading Scott Ian's recent autobiography, but his chapters on Nuclear Assault's history I found thoroughly engrossing. Lilker's take on the thrash group's rise and fall is frank, direct, and honest. His longtime friend, bandmate in one-off grind band Extra Hot Sauce, and former A&R man at In-Effect Records, Howie Abrams, also offers up some interesting stories from the era. Even if you own all of Nuclear Assault's recorded output, the info Lilker and his bandmates give up in Perpetual Conversion is worth the price of the book alone.
Lilker also digs deep into the history of Brutal Truth, the grindcore band he formed in 1990 while he was still a member of Nuclear Assault. The 50-year-old talks about being called a bandwagon jumper by some of the elitist metalheads in the underground, but as he explains in the book, every project he's been a part of has just been a reflection of his evolving musical tastes throughout the years. Perpetual Conversion perfectly captures Lilker's neverending fascination with all things extreme metal and hardcore. This is a guy who charged an obscure noise band called Monostat 7 he produced in the early '90s just the price of his airfare for the entire project. He's that dedicated to this stuff.
In addition to Lilker and company's recollections, the book also includes a ton of previously unpublished photos and vintage gig flyers from his various bands. Done in a fanzine style, Perpetual Conversion is crafted in sturdy cardstock paper. With the holidays just around the corner, you would be hard-pressed to find a better gift than this book for the fellow metal geeks in your life.