The International Society for Metal Music Studies

The mission of ISMMS is to encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary and international academic research regarding processes and phenomena related to heavy metal music and culture and to support the recognition of such research as a significant contribution to academic communities. Sub-genres of heavy metal and related genres, e.g., hardcore punk, are included. ISMMS exists as a focal organization to establish metal music studies as a relevant and respected academic discipline and contribute to the growth of knowledge within the academic and music communities. These aims shall be accomplished through the development, organization and promotion of state of the art collaborations, publications, activities and events that demonstrate high standards and principles of academic excellence and the important purpose of this research around the world.

Statement of Antidiscrimination

Racism and intersecting forms of discrimination (e.g. sexism, homophobia, ableism) are major social problems that are also present in heavy metal culture. To remain silent in the face of structural racism and other bigotries is not an apolitical or neutral stance, but a form of complicity. Metal has never been apolitical and neither are the researchers who deal with it. It is up to each and every one of us to continually address existing inequalities as well as to commit to ongoing questioning of ourselves and reflection upon our actions. The ISMMS Executive Board is committed to supporting all kinds of antidiscrimination in both metal scenes and academic communities.

Read the full statement here.

The ISMMS Board

Dr Bryan Bardine (Chair)

Bryan is a Professor in the Dept. of English at the University of Dayton. He holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Literacy from Kent State University. Both his M.A. and B.A.are in English from the University of Dayton. Bryan’s first book, Heavy Metal Music and Popular Culture, co-edited with three other scholars, was released in March 2016. His article, “Metal and Gothic Literature: Examining the Darker Side of Life (and Death),” appeared in the conference proceedings for the Modern Heavy Metal Conference, and his article “From Sabbath to Slayer: Using Metal in the Writing Classroom,” appeared in his co-edited book Cultural Connections on Metal: Unity in Disparity (2016). His next book, a co-edited collection with Jerome Stueart, Living Metal: Metal Scenes around the World is due in November, 2021. He was the Coordinator of the Metal and Cultural Impact Conference (2014) and the Metal in Strange Places Conference (2016). Bryan predominantly teaches courses in composition, pedagogy, American Literature and Gothic Literature as well as his Metal as Cultural Experience course.

Dr Owen Coggins (Secretary)

Owen has a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Brunel University London, investigating ambiguity, ideology and marginal religiosity in black metal music culture. He previously worked as a Researcher at music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, and before that completed a PhD in Religious Studies and Music at the Open University. Owen’s interdisciplinary research concerns how religion, particularly in marginal or oppositional forms, is imagined, practiced, discussed and represented in popular music cultures. Ambiguity and ambivalence are often important issues in this research, especially when exploring music which features noise, distortion or other extreme sounds. A monograph, Mysticism, Ritual and Religion in Drone Metal, was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2018, and was awarded the International Association for the Study of Popular Music’s 2019 Book Prize. Other publications have appeared in Popular MusicImplicit ReligionMetal Music Studies and elsewhere, addressing questions of reception, ambivalence and ideology in noise, industrial, extreme metal and other popular music genres.

Dr. Lewis Kennedy (Treasurer & Membership Officer)

Dr Lewis Kennedy is a musicologist who works as Curriculum Manager on the BA (Hons) Music (Popular) programme at Leeds Conservatoire. His work on metal includes a PhD on conceptualising genre in metal and hardcore music (University of Hull, 2018) and co-editing the ‘Metal and Musicology’ special issue of Metal Music Studies with M. Selim Yavuz (2019). Lewis has published on the lyrics of Babymetal (2021), NWOAHM and notions of heritage-making in metal/hardcore historiography (2021), and has a chapter on the Hull metal/hardcore scene in a forthcoming volume.

Dr. Ross Hagen (Communications Officer)

Ross is Assistant Professor in Music Studies at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. He holds a Ph.D. and M.M. in Musicology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a B.A. in Music from Davidson College. His research interests include music and ritual, medievalism, music fan cultures, and 20th/21st century avant-garde music. His publications include the 33.3 book A Blaze in the Northern Sky (2020), the co-edited volume Medievalism and Metal Music Studies: Throwing down the Gauntlet (2019), and chapters in Metal Rules the Globe (2011), Hardcore Punk and Other Junk: Aggressive Music in the Contemporary World (2014), The Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures (2014), Fan Identities and Practices in Context: Dedicated to Music (2015), and The Oxford Handbook of Music and Medievalism (2020). In addition to his academic work, Ross is active as a performer and composer.

Dr. Nelson Varas-Díaz (Events Officer)

Nelson is a Professor of social-community psychology at Florida International University’s Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies. His work related to metal music addresses issues of community formation, linkages between culture and music, and metal music as a decolonial strategy in Latin America. His work has been published in multiple journals, including Metal Music StudiesInternational Journal of Community Music, and the Journal of Community Psychology, among others. He coedited the books Heavy Metal Music and the Communal Experience (2016), Heavy Metal in Argentina: In Black We Are Seen (2020), and Heavy Metal in Latin America: Perspectives from the Distorted South (2021). He authored the book Decolonial Metal Music in Latin America to be published by Intellect in 2021. He produced and/or directed the award winning documentaries The Distorted Island: Heavy Metal and Community in Puerto RicoThe Metal Islands: Culture, History and Politics in Caribbean Metal Music, and Songs of Injustice: Heavy Metal Music in Latin America. He is one of the editors of the Metal Music Studies journal published by Intellect. He currently directs the “Heavy Metal Studies – Latin America” group which researches metal in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Dr. Steven Gamble (Webmaster)

Steve is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Music at the University of Bristol and the author of the monograph How Music Empowers: Listening to Modern Rap and Metal (2021). Following study at the Universities of Surrey, Oxford, and Kingston (London), he taught and established an academic skills department at BIMM Institute, Brighton and undertook a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship at University College Cork. He is an active member of European popular music studies communities, having published work in Popular Music and Society, the Journal on the Art of Record Production, and Metal Music Studies (where he serves on the editorial advisory board). He is also webmaster for the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in Music Studies network.

Douglas Mattsson

Douglas is a PhD student at the department of Religious Studies at Södertörn University in Stockholm, Sweden. He has held senior scholarships from the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul and the Orient Institute in Istanbul, for his research on the Turkish black metal scene. His most recent publications include “Spreading VX-Gas over Kaaba: Islamic semiotics in Turkish black metal” in the forthcoming anthology Culture and Politics in New Turkey (Edinburgh University Press, 2021) and he co-authored “The Enemy Within:  Conceptualizing  Turkish Metalheads as the Ideological ’Other’” (Intellect Press, 2021) and “I am Satan! black metal, Islam, and blasphemy in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.” (Contemporary Islam, 2018). He is currently working on his dissertation which is an ethnographic study of the Turkish black metal scene.

Dr. Reinhard Kopanski

Reinhard is a research associate at the University of Siegen (Germany) at the Professorial Chair of Popular Music and Gender Studies. His research interests include music and politics, music and technology, and music and religion. He completed his Ph.D. in musicology in 2019; his thesis will be published in Winter 2020/21 as Bezugnahmen auf den Nationalsozialismus in der populären Musik. Lesarten zu Laibach, Death In June, Feindflug, Rammstein und Marduk. (References to National Socialism in Popular Music. Readings on Laibach, Death In June, Feindflug, Rammstein and Marduk). He has contributed articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Metal Music StudiesJournal for Religion, Film and Media and Samples, as well as for the online version of the German academic music encyclopaedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG). His professional experience includes pedagogical work as a lecturer in Bonn and Cologne and freelance work in the field of audio production.

Pasqualina Eckerström

Pasqualina is doctoral researcher in Religious Studies at the University of Helsinki. She focuses on dynamics of transgression in religious authoritarian countries. Her dissertation investigates how extreme metal musicians in Iran and Saudi Arabia use and produce music to express their subversive identities and promote their right to self-actualisation. She has also researched how various waves of moral panic have impacted the metal communities in the Middle East. The results of this research will be published in Defiant Sounds: Heavy Metal Music in the Global South (2022), Lexington Books. Pasqualina has presented her work at numerous conferences, such as ARTHRIC-2021: Art and Human Rights International Conference; SIEF2021 15th Congress: Theme: Breaking the rules? Power, participation, transgression; Modern Heavy Metal Conference – Special theme: Cultural; Inferno Music Conference: The International Metal Music Networking Conference and The Annual Sociological Conference of the Westermarck Society. She is currently doing an internship at Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), where she concentrates on music as a tool for advocacy and the concept of women’s shelters in Islamic countries. Pasqualina also hosts a metal music podcast called MetalBreak. Having had a long career as a music journalist, her work led to an incredible and brave generation of artists resisting censorship in Muslim authoritarian systems. Therefore, she decided to bring this topic to the academic realm.