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Healing the Mother Wound: Metal Performance and Grief Management


Music and Death: Interdisciplinary Readings and Perspectives

ISBN: 978-1-83867-946-0, eISBN: 978-1-83867-945-3

Publication date: 26 November 2019


Metal saved my life. It is not the first time and it probably will not be the last. The death of my mother when I was twenty-one meant that I was alone, and if it had not been for metal, my grieving process may have been the end of my story. The death, of course, is one thing, but mourning is something that surfaces many years after the event. If I had not bought my first guitar the year she died, the last nineteen years of my life would follow a very different narrative.

I firmly believe that metal and metal performance prevented my suicide and any plans for revenge. It matched my pain, sonically, texturally, musically and aesthetically. It initiated a cathartic process that I have returned to since, because it offers me emotional and psychological balance that other music forms do not. This may be a purely subjective engagement, but that is precisely the point.

Remembering this time in my life is not easy, and can often come in hesitations, blanks and painful memories. By using interpretive performance autoethnography, a methodology that Laurel Richardson calls CAP or creative analytic practice (Richardson, 2000, p. 929) means:

[it] allows the researcher to take up a person’s life in its immediate particularity and to ground the life in its historical moment. We move back and forth in time, using a version of Sartre’s progressive-regressive method. Interpretation works forward to the conclusion of a set of acts taken up by the subject while working back in time, interrogating the historical, cultural, and biographical conditions that moved the person to experience the events being studied

(Denzin, 2014, p. 41).

Through this methodological application, this paper seeks to analyse how metal and metal performance helped me write my trauma into a performing life that ultimately liberated me from my grief.



(2019), "Healing the Mother Wound: Metal Performance and Grief Management", Bennett, M.J. and Gracon, D. (Ed.) Music and Death: Interdisciplinary Readings and Perspectives (Emerald Interdisciplinary Connexions), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 59-70.



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