Global Metal Music and Culture: Current Directions in Metal Studies (co-edited by Andy R. Brown, Karl Spracklen, Keith Kahn-Harris and Niall Scott)
Published by Routledge, April 2016. Read more here
This book defines the key ideas, scholarly debates, and research activities that have contributed to the formation of the international and interdisciplinary field of Metal Studies. Drawing on insights from a wide range of disciplines including popular music, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and ethics, this volume offers new and innovative research on metal musicology, global/local scenes studies, fandom, gender and metal identity, metal media, and commerce. Offering a wide-ranging focus on bands, scenes, periods, and sounds, contributors explore topics such as the riff-based song writing of classic heavy metal bands and their modern equivalents, and the musical-aesthetics of Grindcore, Doom metal, Death metal, and Progressive metal. They interrogate production technologies, sound engineering, album artwork and band promotion, logos and merchandising, t-shirt and jewellery design, and fan communities that define the global metal music economy and subcultural scene. The volume explores how the new academic discipline of metal studies was formed, also looking forward to the future of metal music and its relationship to metal scholarship and fandom. With an international range of contributors, this volume will appeal to scholars of popular music, cultural studies, and sociology, as well as those interested in metal communities around the world.
When the guitarist Marty Friedman auditioned for Megadeath, singer Dave Mustaine loved his playing but told his manager to get Friedman to change his name because Jews were ‘not metal’
Can Jews ‘be metal’?
Certainly, crude stereotypes of the Jewish male – weak, bookish, awkward, hypochondriac – and crude stereotypes of the metal male – sexually promiscuous, loud and tough – seem to be in conflict. Yet not only do these stereotypes hide the considerable diversity amongst both Jews and metallers (to say nothing of their gendered nature), there is a significant history of Jewish involvement in metal culture.
Jews have featured prominently in significant numbers of prominent metal bands, including Kiss, Anthrax, Biohazard, Death and Guns N Roses. Moreover, in at least some cases, the Jewish backgrounds of metal musicians has impacted on their careers, as in the networks of communal and family support that Anvil drew on during their long commercial decline. Further, there have also been metal bands that have drawn on Jewish sources and themes, including Israeli acts such as Orphaned Land and Salem and a number of more obscure artists in the US.
Yet whilst there has been a more than nominal Jewish involvement in metal, the significance and impact of this involvement is much less clear. What might looking at metal through a Jewish lens and Jewishness through a metal lens bring to light? A sustained consideration of the relationship between Jews and metal will illuminate this hidden history while at the same time raising wider issues in the nature of Jewish and metal identity and culture.
We invite contributions from academics, critics, writers musicians and others, for a volume dedicated to explore the connection between metal and Jews from a number of different perspectives. We welcome both non-fiction and fiction.
Themes can include:
·The history of the Jewish presence in metal.
·The use of Jewish themes in metal
·Israeli metal scenes
·The relationship between Satanism, anti-Semitism and Judaism as explored in metal
·Anti-semitism within metal scenes
·Reading/hearing metal through a Jewish lens – is a Jewish metal criticism possible?
·Jewish community attitudes to metal
Please submit abstracts of 200-250 words (by September 30 2014), and inquiries to:
I haven’t done a metaljew post for a while now, in part because of pressure of work and in part because of website problems. To get me into the mood of posting more regularly, here’s a brief update on some recent items of metal Jewish concern:
The British (non-Jewish) band Meads of Asphodel released their new album ‘Sonderkommando’ earlier this year. A concept album dealing with Auschwitz and in particular the experience of the sonderkommando who disposed of the gassed bodies of Jews, it’s pretty strong meat. It’s one of those albums that could be appropriated by the far right. However the extensive ‘codex’ published on the band’s website suggests that the album comes not from a place of lurid fascination (as in Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’) but from a genuine sense of horror and a struggle to understand the Holocaust. Musically it’s a bizarre mix of black metal, progressive rock and all kinds of other stuff – hard to grapple with but worth sustained listening.
Israel’s Orphaned Land go from strength to strength. They are graduating to the top league of metal bands, with a huge amount of press coverage for their new album ‘All Is One’ and an extensive tour to follow. All Is One continues their desire to create religious unity, both musically and in spiritual terms. It’s more accessible than previous albums and, even if their quasi-messianic symbolism does sometimes grate a little, it’s probably the best thing they’ve ever done. Here’s the title track:
Finally, Heeb magazine has an amusing piece about a deaf rabbi metal-fan who has signed onstage for Twisted Sister.
Alarabiya has an intriguing story. Apparently a virus attacking Iran’s nuclear programme caused computers to play AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’. It reminds me of the story from the 1990s that an Israeli undercover army patrol replaced the call to prayer tape in a mosque in Hebron with a Sepultura tape.
Here’s the story:
Heavy Metal has been turned into a weapon….at least in Iran. A peculiar computer virus has caught scientists off-guard in Iranian nuclear facilities, but rather than leaving some kind of harmful malware designed to access encrypted files or wipe servers, the unknown perpetrators have instead rocked the scientists with music by iconic Autralian band AC/DC, according to media reports on Wednesday.
In the middle of the night onsite computers suddenly blared AC/DC’s classic hit Thunderstruck at full volume, while also disabling the automation system, Finnish Internet security site F-Secure Security Labs reported, citing an e- mail it said was sent by a scientist inside Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
Mikko Hypponen, Chief Researcher at F-secure, publicly released the letter he received from the unnamed scientist, on the company’s website.
“I am writing you to inform you that our nuclear program has once again been compromised and attacked by a new worm with exploits which have shut down our automation network at Natanz and another facility Fordo near Qom” the letter reads.
“There was also some music playing randomly on several of the workstations during the middle of the night with the volume maxed out. I believe it was playing ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC,” it continues.
The scientist also stressed that he is not a computer specialist, and does not have detailed information on the virus.
Iran’s nuclear program and oil facilities have been subjected to several cyber-attacks that the Foreign Ministry said were launched by hostile governments as part of a broader “soft war.”
Iran accuses the U.S. and Israel of trying to sabotage its technological progress. Both countries say Iran’s nuclear activities may have military intent, an allegation that Tehran denies.
F-Secure Security Labs is, according to its website, involved in analyzing viruses, spyware and spam attacks.
The company has stressed the fact that details of the ‘Thuderstruck’ attack remain unconfirmed.
However hackers have previously left their mark on Iranian nuclear facilities. The Stuxnet worm believed to have been created by Americans and Israelis in 2010 was said to contain biblical codes.
I’ll be giving a keynote lecture at this conference next year. It looks like it”s going to be a great event. No website for the conference yet but here’s the call for papers:
Heavy Metal and Popular Culture
April 4-7, 2013
Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA The Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, in collaboration with Heavy Fundamentalisms: Metal, Music and Politics and the International Society for Metal Music Studies (ISMMS), announce the International Conference on Heavy Metal and Popular Culture. The Program Committee of the International Conference on Heavy Metal and Popular Culture invites proposals for papers, organized panels of 3-4 papers, and scholarly posters. The online submission deadline for all proposals is 1 December 2012. The conference will take place on the campus of Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, April 4-7, 2013.
We envision the International Conference on Heavy Metal and Popular Culture to be a highly selective conference featuring cutting-edge scholarship on heavy metal’s many facets and forms. Papers will be organized into a single track of programming over four days—there will be no overlapping sessions. Featured at the conference will be keynote lectures by Robert Walser, Laina Dawes, and Keith Kahn-Harris, a screening of the film Motörhead Matters, three roundtables featuring Niall Scott, Steve Waksman, Deena Weinstein and other international metal scholars to be announced, and a special exhibit on facepaint and masks.
We welcome proposals involving all facets of heavy metal musical life throughout the world, with a focus on the intersections, circuits, and mutual imbrications of heavy metal and popular culture, globally and locally. We especially welcome proposals addressing the following themes:
Heavy Metal Consumption: In what ways has mainstream popular culture changed, prefigured or reversed the consumption of heavy metal? How has heavy metal, as a subculture, sound or style, affected popular culture? Are there new forms of popular culture for which heavy metal has become an influence? Is the intersection of heavy metal, popular culture and consumption creating new questions about authenticity, aesthetics, and soundscape? (In other words, what does it mean when obscure 1980s thrash metal tracks wind up on Guitar Hero?)
Heavy Metal, Popular Culture and New Media: Given the rise of new media for heavy metal (social networking media, music and video systems online, gaming, music downloading technology), how has heavy metal further saturated the landscape of popular culture? Are the sounds of heavy metal changing with new technologies and popular media?
Heavy Metal Clothing Style: From the fantastic costumes of bands such as Gwar to the ubiquitous heavy metal t-shirt, the fashion of heavy metal is a vital part of its allure, its popularity, and its criticism. Why is heavy metal style both controversial and popular? Where and how has heavy metal style intersected with fashion locally and globally?
American Heavy Metal Popular Culture and Its Circuits: From films such as Heavy Metal Parking Lot to Kiss’ commercialism and the Osbourne family’s reality television programs, mainstream American popular culture has held a particular fascination for heavy metal, fomenting moral panics against it one day and celebrating its integrity and authenticity the next. How did American popular culture and heavy metal become so mutually imbricated? Are American popular culture’s heavy metal appropriations altering the scenes in other countries and cultures? Do local scenes, including those within the United States, seek to resist mainstream popular culture or embrace it?
Research Poster Sessions The poster format provides an opportunity for conference attendees to meet informally with authors and discuss research. Each author attends her/his respective 60-minute session, distributes abstracts, and answers questions. Supporting sound and/or video examples (on personal computers and utilizing battery, rather than A/C power) will be coordinated with other presenters once the Program Committee has formed sessions.
General Guidelines Accepted presenters will not be required to pay conference attendance registration fees. The committee encourages proposals from graduate students and independent scholars. An individual may submit only one proposal. All proposals must be submitted through the online electronic submission process.
Proposals must specify whether the proposal is for 1) paper, 2) poster, or 3) either presentation format, the latter to be determined by the Program Committee as it builds sessions. Individual or joint papers should be no longer than twenty minutes. Posters will be organized in block sessions. For complete session proposals, the organizer must include an initial statement of 100 words explaining the rationale for the session, in addition to proposals and abstract files for each paper. Include the following for all submissions:
Proposer’s name, e-mail address, and institutional affiliation or city of residence
100-word version of your proposal suitable for publication in the conference program (.doc, .docx, .txt, or .rtf format). Include proposer’s name and email, and the proposal title in this file.
Audio and visual needs: CD player, DVD player, digital projector. Please also specify IBM or Mac platforms, and any special needs. Request of special audio and visual needs does not guarantee their availability, but presenters will be notified if their requests cannot be met.
Specify whether you are a student.
All materials must be electronically date-stamped by December 1, 2012 at midnight CST and emailed to Clifford@ucmo.eduwith “HMPC Submission” in the subject line and required documents attached. For further information regarding the submission process: Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone, Chair, HM&PC 2013 Program Committee, Wood 136B, Department of History and Anthropology, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO 64093, USA, Clifford@ucmo.edu.
For further information about the conference, please contact the BGSU conference organizers:
New metal band with seasoned vocals, bass & guitar needs badass DRUMMER. We are combining heavy & solid Doom/Death Metal with chaotic/bestial Black/War Metal elements thrown in, maybe some heavy D-beat if you can pull it off.
We are Jews and would like to include some awesome Ancient Hebrew themes sometimes, this is why we ask you be Jewish too so you know WTF we’re talking about. You don’t need to be a “religious” Jew, but if you are that’s fine too. It’s also ok if you’re just what they call “half Jewish”. Must be totally pro-Israel, esp. since we have connections to play in Tel Aviv and plan to do so in the future. It might help if you know a little bit of Hebrew, but that’s totally not required.
Must have your own drums & be able to transport them, and eventually do touring.
Influences: Bolt Thrower, Black Wreath, Cannibal Corpse, St. Vitus, Benediction, Revenge, Arallu, Sanctorum, D9, The Obsessed, Bestial Warlust, Mourning Beloveth, Oranssi Pazuzu, Blasphemy, Dissection, Disfear, Doom:Vs, Driller Killer, & MUCH MORE –anything heavy and brutal.
I’ve been blogging about Jews and metal for a few years and at various points, people have mentioned to me a US Jewish metal band from the 1990s called Midbar. I’ve never been able to find much info about them – until now. Stefan Kirschner got in touch and sent me a scan of the (self-released, eponymously) CD cover from 1998. It was the only thing they ever released apparently.
Stefan also sent me a rip of the CD. Given that the band are no longer a going concern I’ve taken the liberty of posting the MP3s below. I’ve had a listen and it’s not bad. I’m guessing the band are baal teshuvah as it sounds like other rock acts I’ve heard with the background. It doesn’t do anything very interesting with metal, but the covers of Jewish standards are quite fun. In 1998 the novelty value alone would have blown my mind.
I’ve spent years trying to convince the world of metal’s radical potential. I’ve followed the obscure byways of obscure extreme metal genres in search of the avant-grade potential of this most degraded form. My heart has swelled with satisfaction as – finally – The Wire, The Quietus and other bastions of elite musical opinion have begun to embrace the metallic dark side.
But I could never entirely explain away metal’s unabashedly lowbrow side. Denim jackets, beer, long-haired power metal bands singing of Templars and dragons – all this is much more representative of metal than Sunn0)))-style hipsterdom.
I still stand by my defence of mainstream metal – that it is filled with irony and humour, that it offers an organic link to the avant garde that is vanishingly rare in musical cultures – but I’m aware that mainstream metallers have no need of my excuses.
German metal, you are my reproach! You laugh at my intellectual metaldom!
Gazing at this flyer, at a German rural roadside, I see metal at its least cool. Away from the cosmopolitan city, middle Europe’s metal hordes gather. They embrace the ‘bang your head’ rituals, the cheezy graphics, the beer-soaked denim-jacketed-arms-aloft devils horns. They worship metal’s blue-collar anti-art past, the legendary Geordie faux-Satanic speed metal stylings of Venom and the exhumed Thin Lizzy shorn of Phil Lynott’s troubling blackness, the proudly clichéd Edguy. Lower on the bill, Sabaton proclaim their cartoon war-obsession, Diamond Head try and remind us that in the early 1980s they actually mattered, Tankard offer endless variants of their odes to beer. Only Ireland’s Primordial forlornly fly the flag for metal’s subtler side.
But why the fuck not? Why not metal at its least hip? Why not German blue-collar crassness in a field?
These are my disreputable brothers (sic) that I can never distance myself from entirely. Those of us who delight in metal’s cutting edge tendencies cannot and should not reject the taint of Germanic headbanging. This is what it means to embrace something. This is metal’s incipient and unexpected pluralism made flesh.
German metal, I am of you and you are of me! We are tied together on our metal journeys! Part of me is in a field with you, part of you is reading The Wire with me.
– Commentary by Keith-Kahn Harris. Photograph courtesy Joel Schalit.
Earlier this week I posted a link to an amazing story about a female Iraqi anti-Islamic black metal band. Now it appears that the band may be a hoax. It’s not clear what the reality of the situation is, but it’s going to be interesting to watch the story develop.