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. Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis is visiting lecturer in Theology at Fordham University, teaching the history of interpretation of the Bible. Her PhD developed a new methodology for the criticism of translations of ancient texts with respect to identifying language, culture and ideology. Her research focuses on the bible as a cultural artifact, particularly in the way that text interacts with language, art and music. She is particularly interested in changes of gender representation throughout the history of textual interpretation and language development. She has published on the use of the Bible by heavy metal artists in Modern Heavy Metal: Markets, Practices and Cultures.

Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis presenting

I attended this lecture in order to see the interpretation of Metal Music Studies by scholars in other fields. I was not disappointed. Dr Naylor Davis is an engaging speaker. The audience responded in turn with several questions that I had not heard before from metal music scholars. All in all, the paper presentation and following discussion was excellent.

Dr Naylor Davis and I then went to Sheffield, to attend the Striker/Thunderstone/Sonata Arctica gig. There was a good turnout for a metal show at the Corporation. The audience was decked out in Finnish metal t-shirts- I counted Amorphis and Ensiferum shirts among the crowd, and even I wore a Swallow the Sun shirt- as well as the token Iron Maiden and Judas Priest gear that is prevalent at any metal gig I have attended in England. The Corporation also served Iron Maiden’s ‘Trooper’. This made me think of Dr Karl Spracklen’s paper, ‘‘Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it’: Myths and Narratives of Britishness in the Construction and Consumption of Iron Maiden’, presented at MHM ’15 in Helsinki.

The first act was Striker, the lone non-Finnish band, hailing from Edmonton, Canada. From what I saw of Striker, which was admittedly not very much, I could say that they were a mix of heavy metal, hard rock, with clean tenor vocals.

The next act was Thunderstone. I have to admit my ethical conflict with reviewing Thunderstone, as the bassist is my PhD supervisor, Dr Titus Hjelm. Understanding that, I can say that the band was very technically tight, and arguably has the happiest drummer in all of heavy metal. Thunderstone were high energy, and a real joy to watch.

Thunderstone

Sonata Arctica were the headliner. I suppose I am technically a Sonata Arctica scholar, as I wrote about them and their use of wolves in my article in the Horror Studies journal. I do have a soft spot for any band that announces their return to stage from a brief interlude via a wolf howl. The audience seemed to enjoy Sonata Arctica’s performance, and I enjoyed the ecofeminist and lupine themes throughout some of their tracks. However, I wish the dynamism Sonata Arctica exhibited in their encore was present for the entirety of the show.

Sonata Arctica

After my experiences yesterday, I can now say, without reservations, that attending a Biblical Studies paper presented by Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis is the perfect warm-up to a metal show. Striker has a bright future ahead of them. Although I may be in an ethical bind regarding my opinion of Thunderstone, I would recommend them to any fans of heavy metal or classic rock. Sonata Arctica gives audiences somethings to mull over, such as their carbon footprint and toxic masculinity, and werewolves. I would recommend catching these bands on their European tour.

I would also highly recommend Dr Titus Hjelm as a PhD Supervisor!


References:

Naylor Davis, C. 2017, ‘Subversion, Orthodoxy, Opposition, and Embodiment: an exploration of heavy metal as Biblical exegesis and cultural reception of texts’, paper presented to Ehrhardt Seminar, University of Manchester, 23/03/2017. http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/religions-and-theology/connect/events/

Spracklen, K. 2015, ‘‘Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it’: Myths and Narratives of Britishness in the Construction and Consumption of Iron Maiden’ in T. Karjalainen and K. Kärki (eds) Modern Heavy Metal: Markets, Practices and Cultures, IIPC Publication Series 6, Helsinki: Aalto University & Turku: International Institute for Popular Culture, 2015, pp. 103-112.