Show me…

MMS 101

Our series of short posts on different topics in metal studies, written to introduce a general audience to current research.

Metal Methodology

A podcast series hosted by ISMMS Secretary Owen Coggins featuring interviews with notable scholars in metal studies.

Events, CfPs & more

All information about events, calls for proposals, and other announcements related to metal music studies.

All Posts

MMS101: Decoloniality w/ Nelson Varas-Diaz

MMS101: Decoloniality w/ Nelson Varas-Diaz

DECOLONIAL METAL MUSIC IN LATIN AMERICA Nelson Varas-Díaz   “You want to make it sound like it came from a Latin American being,” said Luis, the lead singer of the Mexican band Acrania, as he explained why he integrated the trumpet and salsa arrangements into his death/thrash metal band. That encounter echoed many other experiences in my ethnographic work that evidenced metal’s transformation in the region. This transformation was not only related to its sound, but also to the regionalization of its lyrical content and visual dimensions. This transformation, I argue in my work, is not...

read more
Bibliography, Webmaster, New Website

Bibliography, Webmaster, New Website

Some exciting ISMMS announcements have us in good spirits! Awhile back we advertised for a Webmaster position on the ISMMS Board, and we’re happy to say that we now have Dr. Steven Gamble of University College Cork in the position. Steve is the author of How Music Empowers: Listening to Modern Rap and Metal (Routledge 2021), and has published on modern metal breakdowns in Metal Music Studies and on prog metal band Karnivool in the  Journal on the Art of Record Production, among other things. He has quickly gotten to work on refashioning and updating things, so we are also happy to announce...

read more
Heavy Metal Therapy w/ Kate E. Quinn

Heavy Metal Therapy w/ Kate E. Quinn

If you ask metalheads why they love heavy metal music you will get loads of answers: the energy of the music, the intensity, the loudness…  But there will also be quite a few who will say that metal saved their life, or keeps them sane.  Music is a great coping strategy for many people, but metal in particular has only recently been understood within research as a potential tool for enhancing wellbeing.  Many metalheads seem to have this shared experience of finding extreme music helpful for mental health, and Heavy Metal Therapy exists for those people.   At its core, it is a peer support...

read more
Metal and Reflexive Anti-Reflexivity w/ Keith Kahn-Harris

Metal and Reflexive Anti-Reflexivity w/ Keith Kahn-Harris

Metal has often been critically reviled, subject to prejudice and persecution. Metal’s pretensions to art are frequently seen as laughable. It’s understandable, therefore, that the first scholars to take an interest in metal, were keen to emphasise its ‘seriousness’ as a genre. Pioneering studies by Deena Weinstein and by Robert Walser, published in the 1990s, demonstrated metal’s aesthetic value, together with its social value. This work of validation was necessary, but also missed something important. When I began researching metal scenes in the mid-1990s, I noticed that metal scenes were...

read more
Metal and Borealism w/ Ross Hagen

Metal and Borealism w/ Ross Hagen

Borealism is essentially a form of exoticism, building on Edward Saïd’s “orientalism,” a concept detailing how European artistic depictions of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures tended to emphasize violence, “primitiveness,” and sensuality. It is one way we define ourselves collectively by defining who we *aren’t*, often with a hefty dose of condescension. Borealism adapts orientalism to the Nordic and Arctic regions, exploring how it has long been imagined as wild, mysterious, and magical in the global imagination. These conceptions might seem benign or even complimentary, but the...

read more
Metal and Nationalism w/ Méi-Ra St. Laurent

Metal and Nationalism w/ Méi-Ra St. Laurent

Ah nationalism and metal music… There are thousands of examples of groups promoting their history and their culture in the lyrics of their songs by using their national language, on their album covers with beautiful pictures of their landscape, or even in their music by utilizing traditional instruments. For many, simply evoking the equation “metal music + nationalism” raises a lot of questions... How should this display of national culture be viewed in the context of metal music? Is it linked with fascism or even with Aryan supremacy, as it is the case for certain groups? These questions...

read more
Metal and History w/ Peter Pichler

Metal and History w/ Peter Pichler

Since its earliest days, metal culture has had a deep connection with historical topics. Classic metal songs like Iron Maiden’s ‘Alexander the Great’ (about the historical figure) as well as ‘Invaders’ (dealing with the Nordic invasion of Britain in the middle ages) or Judas Priest’s ‘The Ripper’ (about ‘Jack the Ripper’) are meant to take their listeners back in time to earlier centuries. Such songs frame the past in the form of metal music and lyrics – history becomes ‘metallized’. As a cultural historian, this is where my research in metal music studies comes in. Historians are academic...

read more
Metal and Gender w/ Amanda DiGioia

Metal and Gender w/ Amanda DiGioia

When I entered the Tavastia Club in downtown Helsinki, I immediately noticed what appeared to be a mother-daughter duo watching the main act. During a brief chat, they confirmed that yes, they were mother and daughter, and were curious as to what I was doing in Finland. When I said that I wanted to do a PhD on gender in Finnish heavy metal, the daughter looked puzzled: ‘But there isn’t a gender issue in Finland….’ Traditionally known as the land of a thousand lakes, Finland is rapidly becoming equally well-known as a heavy metal music hub. Finnish metal music in particular is recognized as a...

read more
Metal and Sexual Violence w/ Rosemary Lucy Hill

Metal and Sexual Violence w/ Rosemary Lucy Hill

THE PROBLEM OF GIG GROPING, AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT Trigger warning: sexual violence It’s such a long time since I’ve been to a gig:  COVID-19 has significantly restricted the in-person live music scene. It makes me wistful for gigs past. But there are some things I don’t miss: that tall bloke always in front of me, sweaty hair in my face, and being groped in the crowd. This is what happened when I went to see Metallica: a man groped my breast. I was fuming, humiliated, frightened. To be touched intimately without my permission, to be reduced to meat, to be unsure if worse was to come…...

read more

Metal and Musicology w/ Lewis Kennedy

METAL AND MUSICOLOGY  Lewis Kennedy  Metal music studies is an academic field that draws upon and engages a variety of disciplines and methodologies, including musicology (incorporating music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, performance, production, reception, etc.). As a musicologist studying metal, I focus on music as the locus of meaning for metal culture. In other words, I consider music as the site in which the myriad elements of metal culture are drawn together, codified, and contested. Broadly understood, ‘music’ need...

read more