If metal has become incoherent, there’s little sign that it is dying. Yet there are two dangers that are beginning to loom large over it. The first is that metal gradually dissipates. The music moves in a thousand different directions, by a thousand different artists. Any sense of it as an overarching idiom, a cultural identity, and a social space is lost. (More…)
Author: Keith Kahn-HarrisKeith Kahn-Harris is a London-based sociologist, teacher, writer and Jewish communal activist. He is the author of Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge and co-author of Turbulent Times: The British Jewish Community Today. He occasionally blogs at metaljew.org and his website is kahn-harris.org.
Today we’re witnessing the fulfillment of the postmodern condition that figures such as Baudrillard and Lyotard first proclaimed – prematurely – in the 1980s. Abundance, and the simultaneous availability of every kind of cultural commodity threatens to ‘flatten’ out the world, creating a kind of continuous present, beyond progress, beyond history. (More…)
Historically, scarcity has played a crucial role in metal, particularly in underground extreme metal. Until recently, there were considerable logistical barriers to recording, releasing, circulating and publicising metal recordings. It took considerable time, money and commitment to make a demo, to trade it and to market it. Copying tapes, printing flyers and hand-answering fanzine interviews required a certain degree of determination. (More…)
Metal today is in crisis. Metal’s crisis doesn’t feel like a crisis. In fact it sometimes feels like quite the reverse. This is a crisis in which most are unaware that there is a crisis – and that is the crisis. The crisis is one of abundance. (More…)
Rock bands lending their ‘brand name’ to consumer products – surely the epitome of ‘selling out’? The Motorhead phone cover would seem to be the latest – and certainly not the worst – in a long tradition of branded merchandise, whose apotheosis must surely be the Kiss coffin. The critique of this kind of branding is almost as familiar as the branding itself. (More…)
There’s always one or two at every metal gig I go to in London. Amid the sea of white faces there are always one or two black fans standing out from the crowd. The question I want to ask is “What are you doing here?” Not because I don’t think black people should be into metal, but because I want to know what drew them to heed metal’s call. (More…)
It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Slayer live. As a metal fan for over twenty years it’s been hard to avoid seeing them, given the frequency with which they tour. Nor would I want to avoid seeing them. They are after all the ur-band, the mother lode of extreme metal, never wavering in their commitment to a tight-riffing, hyper-disciplined sound. (More…)
Burzum as a grafitti tag. What could be more inevitable? A one-man black metal project, led by an unrepentant neo-Nazi and murderer, implacably opposed to modern European (multi)culture – an irresistable signifier of transgression for those who feel drawn to write on walls. If you’re going to deface a wall, let it be with a symbol of uncompromising hate. (More…)
The music business is brutal. Even if you succeed – your music gets released by a label, people buy it and fans come to your gigs – there is no guarantee that your career won’t crash and burn. The history of rock and pop is filled with artists that disappeared as suddenly as they arrived. A hit album or two and then the follow-up stiffs. In memorium: Terence Trent D’Arby, Elastica, Kula Shaker…the list goes on. (More…)
Two weeks ago, my life took a slightly strange turn. My past and future collided in a clash between old media and new media. Let me explain.
Although I’ve never had a secure, long-term post, I’ve been working in academia since completing my PhD in 2001. Over this time, I’ve amassed a number of publications, including two monographs (one of which was co-authored,) a co-edited book, three journal articles and a number of book chapters. (More…)
In a (post-) postmodern age, no collision should surprise us. I don’t know if Latvian-Portuguese fusion food exists, but it certainly could. So it is that heavy metal has been impacted by all manner of cultures and things. It’s worth highlighting such collisions, as the image of metal as a musical and social monoculture remains persistent. (More…)
Has any conflict in history had more ‘solutions’ than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? From Tel Aviv, to Ramallah, to the ends of the earth – everyone has an opinion as to who should do what to bring peace to all or victory to some.
At the same time, despite the cacophony of voices, the range of ‘final status’ visions is rather limited. The essential issue is that two self-defined peoples claim sovereignty within one small patch of land. (More…)