Metal
The Metal East

The Metal East

An Israeli gig poster may have changed my life. Back in 1992, backpacking round Israel as a student, I kept seeing posters advertising a gig by Benediction, the British death metal band. And every time I saw one I wondered ‘A metal scene? Here?’ More»

Metal Trump

Metal Trump

Amongst all the frenzied accounting over whom to blame/credit for Donald Trump’s victory, one group has escaped notice – the metalheads. Indeed, there is no evidence that metalheads voted for (or against) Trump (if they voted at all) in greater numbers than anyone else. More»

Pre-Hipster Metal

Pre-Hipster Metal

There is a kind of literalism that permeates metal culture when it comes to the word ‘metal.’ Metal is hard, unyielding, unbreakable, weaponised, destructive etc etc. Metal is a metaphor that is applied to the music and to its culture; it represents an ideal as much as a description. More»

The End of Novelty

The End of Novelty

A few months ago, I stumbled onto Deafheaven’s last record, Sunbather. This is a pathetic admission for a guy who spends a large proportion of his free time searching out new music. But in my defense ,the cover of Sunbather is pink, and I must have been thrown by that the first time I saw it among the new black metal releases. More»

Waiting for Lemmy to Die

Waiting for Lemmy to Die

Someday, Lemmy will die. Maybe that day will come soon. For the last couple of years, he hasn’t been a well man. He walks with a stick, slurs his speech and his rapier wit seems diminished. He has even made half-hearted attempts to cut back on the booze and cigarettes. More»

Doom Metal in Pakistan

Doom Metal in Pakistan

Booming guitars accentuated by a crushing low-end bass reverberate from the speakers. The drums hammer down with monotonous intensity, making every riff take on the form of an unrelenting earthquake. More»

Metal Pakistan

Metal Pakistan

During the 1990s, numerous Pakistani bands arose from the nascent democracy that followed the end of the Zia ul-Haq era. Dusk was one of them: a Pakistani metal band with a sound that has evolved with the miseries of daily life. More»

From Extreme Metal to Islamic State

From Extreme Metal to Islamic State

When I set out to do ethnographic research on extreme metal for my doctorate in the mid-1990s, it was the transgression that fascinated me. I wanted to immerse myself in a culture dedicated to musical celebrations of the dark side, that flirted with sonic oblivion, that stared into the abyss. More»

The Challenge of Mediocre Metal

The Challenge of Mediocre Metal

In my early years as a metal fan, in the 1980s and 1990s, everything was interesting. The process of musical discovery was a slow one, proceeding in fits and starts as I gradually managed to buy, copy and hear enough metal to become knowledgeable about the parameters of the genre. More»

Metal Beyond Metal

Metal Beyond Metal

What would it look like if metal culture abandoned music? How necessary in fact is music to metal? This might seem absurd, but there are precedents of a sort. Both goth and punk are only partially dependent on music. Music is one element of goth culture, alongside fashion, literature, visual arts and film. More»

Breaking Metal's Boundaries

Breaking Metal’s Boundaries

Crisis-period metal is metal at its most innovative. Artists are taking the genre in many different directions, some of which, as in post-metal, are challenging the very nature of what metal is and could be. But what I’m imagining is something more thoroughgoing and systematic. Innovation on its own is not enough to keep metal alive. More»

Slow Metal

Slow Metal

One way of tackling the metal crisis is to reintroduce scarcity. To some extent this is already happening. The stubborn persistence of vinyl and cassettes in metal derives from a desire to maintain scarcity. The reduction al absurdo of this tendency is releasing music in near-obsolete formats such as floppy diskettes. However, on its own, this strategy is too limited though, as not only are many such releases simultaneously released digitally. More»