Category Archives: MMS Blog

Edda, axes, extreme metal: A study of Norse themes in Norwegian metal music

by Imke von Helden

Old Norse literature, various kinds of weapons and untamed music are indeed main ingredients when it comes to Viking metal, or, as it is referred to in this study, ‘Norse-themed metal music’. Imke von Helden, the author of Norwegian Native Art – Cultural Identity in Norwegian Metal Music, focuses on the relevance of Norse themes for identity construction in a qualitative analysis by drawing upon lyrical, visual and sonic aspects in the work of Norwegian bands in a globalised context. In five qualitative interviews, the author asks Enslaved (as one of the most well-known bands within this frame) and other bands about their motivation, intentions and sources in order to draw conclusions concerning the expression and performance of cultural identity. Furthermore, the author provides an overview of the relevance of Norse themes throughout Norwegian history. Continue reading Edda, axes, extreme metal: A study of Norse themes in Norwegian metal music

Wayne’s World and World Record Headbanging

On the fourth day of July, one thousand people in Aurora, Illinois gathered to headbang together in a public park in an attempt to be recognized by the Guinness book of world records. Why July Fourth? This date is celebrated as Independence Day in the US, in commemoration of the vote by a congress of colonial governments in 1776 to declare themselves United States independent from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Many municipalities sponsor parades, fireworks displays, and other free public events to display national and civic pride. As a large suburb in the shadow of Chicago, Aurora does not get much attention outside of local news, but they do have one claim to international fame: Aurora is the setting of the internationally-popular Wayne’s World franchise, whose main characters Wayne and Garth are a pair of goofy heavy metal geeks. Continue reading Wayne’s World and World Record Headbanging

On Not Being a Douchebag: The Moral Obligation to Confront Sexism

Today I’d like to discuss sexism in metal. Don’t we talk about that all the time? I hear you ask. If you pay attention to publications in the field of metal studies, it appears that yes, we do. The topic is even getting significant uptake in mainstream metal press outlets like Decibel, Noisey, and MetalSucks. All of this is a good thing. So why am I bringing it up again, you may ask? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, it would be harmful to assert that we have reached a point where it is not worth talking about. To quote an article (which is currently under review) I submitted with my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger Amanda DiGioia, ‘as academic feminists. . .we will be “post-feminists” in the “post-patriarchy.”’ The second reason, and this is the point of this little discussion, is that I believe that members of the metal community have an obligation to confront sexism and sexist behaviour within the scene. Continue reading On Not Being a Douchebag: The Moral Obligation to Confront Sexism

No remorse, no regrets: A night with Primordial, Fen, and Crom Dubh

On March 31st, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Primordial, Fen, and Crom Dubh show at the Underworld in Camden. Accompanying me was a fellow metal music academic, composer, and Primordial fan Bill McGrath.

The Underworld is a suitably named venue. You descend almost immediately after entering, and are placed into an intimate venue that has a capacity of 500. I was thrilled to see Primordial in this setting: prior to this, I had only seen the band at festivals. Because both Bill and myself are staunch believers in seeing opening acts, we arrived at The Underworld in plenty of time to see all three bands. Continue reading No remorse, no regrets: A night with Primordial, Fen, and Crom Dubh

Interrogating the Origin Myth of Celtic Frost

The history of Celtic Frost begins with the band Hellhammer. Hellhammer was founded as a trio in 1981, and they released a couple of demos and an album before two of the members decided to end the Hellhammer project, kick out half the band, and reform under the name “Celtic Frost.” The band has promoted the idea that their work as Hellhammer was amateurish and earned such a bad reputation that they had to change their name to get people to take their music seriously. While I’m sure there is some truth to this story, the fact is that not quite *everyone* hated Hellhammer. One of the early German fanzines I’ve been reading recently actually gives a glowing positive review of Hellhammer’s first release! But as you will see, it doesn’t entirely contradict the story Celtic Frost tells, just adds some fascinating nuances. Continue reading Interrogating the Origin Myth of Celtic Frost

Bibles and Banging Heads: Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis and Striker/Thunderstone/Sonata Arctica

After trekking to the North of England for the day to see an academic presentation on heavy metal music and a gig, I can now say, without reservation, that the perfect gig pre-game is to attend a Biblical Studies paper.

The said Biblical Studies paper was presented by Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis, at the Ehrhardt Seminar, hosted by The University of Manchester. Continue reading Bibles and Banging Heads: Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis and Striker/Thunderstone/Sonata Arctica

Metal Music Manual and musings on ‘heavy’

Written by Mark Mynett, m.j.mynett@hud.ac.uk

If you are reading this, then you likely share a passion for metal music; so hopefully you’ll bear with me whilst, briefly, I wax lyrical about my love for the genre.

I was just 12 years old when my Dad took me to see Thin Lizzy at Preston Guildhall (FYI; 1981– the ‘Renegade’ tour). It was the closest thing I could imagine to a religious experience; the power, energy and glory of the show was mind-blowing beyond belief. This was quickly followed by a moment of clarity in the form of ‘That’s what I want to do with my life – rock musician!’ I got a guitar for my thirteenth birthday, and after entirely losing my teens to my newfound obsession, joined a band and played my first gig. Continue reading Metal Music Manual and musings on ‘heavy’

Thrashtalgia in the heavy metal heritage market

Some recent research I’ve been doing on metal’s discursive ‘death’ in the 1990s has coincided with the release and promotional whirlwind of Metallica’s latest album (which I unapologetically love, by the way) in ways that have made me consider a few different questions surrounding traditionalism, longevity and nostalgia within metal markets. The fact remains that my love for Hetfield will never fade, let’s get that out of the way first. If I could make an entire blog post about his adventures in fashion I would. Yet Metallica and many of their 80s thrash peers remain intriguing examples of bands which emerged from an initial ‘outsider’ position to achieve substantial international success, and outlast the glam metal market which they and the wider thrash metal scene were initially rebelling against. The ongoing valorisation of thrash’s ‘traditional’ acts suggests that approaches to thrash authenticity are still firmly rooted in decades past. Which leads me to a few questions – why are the 1980s still given such significant subcultural capital within discussions of thrash metal? And does this then mean that modern thrash acts can only ever be referential nostalgia to the ‘glory days’, playing the Blackened riff for all eternity? Continue reading Thrashtalgia in the heavy metal heritage market

A Night With the Alex Skolnick Trio

Have you ever been to jazz club that is in the basement of a Pizza Express? Have you ever been to a jazz show where audience members proudly donned Judas Priest and Megadeth shirts? I have, and it was great!
The occasion where these worlds met was, or course, the Alex Skolnick Trio gig at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, London.  The band consists of Alex Skolnick (on guitar),  Nathan Peck (on bass), and Matt Zebroski (on drums). Continue reading A Night With the Alex Skolnick Trio

Tunes for the Resistance: On the Importance of Staying Outraged

At this point, it feels fair to say that most of the world is in a state of disbelief and righteous anger. In case there was any doubt about which events the world is in disbelief or righteously angry over, it would be the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. This event, and the rising populism in many countries, including my own, has had me thinking recently about how metal and politics fit together. Much of metal’s history with politics has been somewhat tumultuous, with plenty of politics in regards to censorship. I think we’re all familiar with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister’s appearance at the PMRC Senate Committee hearings, and his passionate speech against the censoring of his and other music. For many people, this is more or less the extent to which metal gets political for them, and for a lot of people it is probably fair to say that’s how they prefer it. Continue reading Tunes for the Resistance: On the Importance of Staying Outraged