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This chapter contains a case study analysis on a song by the Spanish heavy metal group Desafío or ‘Challenge’. The lyrics of the song are treated as a poem, and I will…
This chapter contains a case study analysis on a song by the Spanish heavy metal group Desafío or ‘Challenge’. The lyrics of the song are treated as a poem, and I will thus progress toward a linguistic and poetic analysis (Leech, 2013). Songs include many poetic devices, such as personification, metonymy, paradox, tautology, antithesis, and hyperbole (cf. Hewitt, 2000, p. 189). During the aforementioned linguistic and poetical analysis, it will be seen that the song Muerte en Mostar ‘Death in Mostar’ abounds with poetic features. The song begins with personification, for example: ‘The moon reflects in her face the shadows of evil’. Liturgical lexis and bellicose vocabulary also proliferate. Especially active in the song is the notion of an almost religious crusade. For example, one liturgical aspect found in the chorus is where an unnamed protagonist is described within the context of an almost holy war: ‘To his squadron's flag he promised his loyalty / His heart of love would be called by God’. The song goes on to recount the subsequent events and, therefore, this song in fact seems to be a mini-narrative. Finally, I will show how so much literary allusion reveals, in the end, that the song is not about Spain at all but about events that took place during the war of Bosnia–Herzegovina.
This chapter focusses on current debates on ‘locating metal’ and on the demand for more theoretical and methodological rigor in metal studies. As an example of the usage…
This chapter focusses on current debates on ‘locating metal’ and on the demand for more theoretical and methodological rigor in metal studies. As an example of the usage of a non-English language in metal, the author examines the empirical case of the usage of Austrian German and Austrian dialects in metal music since around 1990. Herein, the author will be using the disciplinary methodologies of history and analyse the two Austrian bands Alkbottle and Varulv. According to the theory of ‘sonic knowledge’, the case study is interpreted as an example of ‘locating metal’ that occurred in the Austrian metal scene. The chapter shows that the seemingly contradictory coexistence of both deconstructive irony and essentialist nationalism is characteristic of the usage of Austrian German in metal. To conclude, the author proposes that this paradox is a result of the broad cultural history of Austrian nation building after 1945. The paradox of the usage of Austrian dialects in metal is the metal scene's attempt at coping with the frictions of Austria's twentieth century history.
Lyrics hold a complex status, not only within the world of metal music. They are subject to diverse motivations and backgrounds within groups of individuals and may serve…
Lyrics hold a complex status, not only within the world of metal music. They are subject to diverse motivations and backgrounds within groups of individuals and may serve various functions – as poetry, as means of channelling social criticism or feelings. Lyrics may be barely perceptible as produced by human beings, they may be hard to understand and they may not even be printed in CD booklets. While some bands claim their lyrics do not matter, others translate and/or explain underlying concepts and metaphors used in the texts to ensure the listeners' understanding and intended interpretation of the words of a song in other languages than English. Thus, metal lyrics are an interesting subject for analysing various stances of identity, of cultural implications, and of politics, especially when it comes to the use of specific languages within a societal context.
In Norway, bands such as Enslaved, Solefald, and Wardruna already expressed themselves in their native languages in an early phase of their careers, simultaneously engaging in Norse themes, such as the Viking Age and Norse mythology. Based on my work on cultural identity in Norwegian metal music and three sample bands, the author will take a closer look at the interplay of lyrics, language and cultural identity. In this paper, the author will show how the bands engage in Nynorsk, Bokmål or Høgnorsk lyrics and what it means for the bands to deal with the languages' history and meaning.
This chapter focuses on the problematic relationship between heavy metal and gender politics. While metal may be deemed as being an ‘alternative’ subculture, metal still…
This chapter focuses on the problematic relationship between heavy metal and gender politics. While metal may be deemed as being an ‘alternative’ subculture, metal still ‘uses’ women in the same way as ‘normal’ society. Despite the nature of metal as counterculture, women’s images and morality are often inverted but not subverted and it is this nuance that we wish to explore: for example, the use of Mary, Mother of God, in ‘Amen’ by black metal band Behemoth, where though her image is a challenge to convention, she is still ‘used’ as emblems for male political ideology. In the textuality of heavy metal music, women appear as mothers (both good and bad), fetishised whores, mother earth and sexualised virgins. Where modern open sexuality is ‘praised’, anything less so is mocked. Though this ‘praise’ may come across as positive, it is nevertheless still ascribing morality/immorality/virtue to women’s bodies in a way that is not done with men. In this discussion, we will use examples of texts from metal bands who reference women, imagery associated with band merchandise as well as comments from the performers themselves (such as Dee Snider’s approval of the lyrics of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ being associated with the Women’s March on Washington) to investigate the place of the female body in this cultural representation. By using textual critical analysis, we show that women in metal are still having morality written on their bodies, bringing to light the debatable nature of metal being deemed as ‘alternative’ when it comes to gender.
During the second decade of the twenty-first century, the phenomenon of ‘kawaii metal’ has garnered significant attention in English-language mainstream press alongside…
During the second decade of the twenty-first century, the phenomenon of ‘kawaii metal’ has garnered significant attention in English-language mainstream press alongside more limited discussion in metal journalism. An ostensible fusion of metal and Japanese aidoru ‘idol’ music, kawaii metal artists frequently juxtapose the traditional aesthetics of kawaii ‘cuteness’ with those of metal, emphasising a combination of influences distinctly Eastern and Western. Prominent among kawaii metal artists, Babymetal have generated substantial press coverage in the Anglophone world. Despite emanating from the Japanese idol industry and singing almost exclusively in Japanese, touring the United States, and Europe (producing live CDs and DVDs recorded in the United States and United Kingdom) have made Babymetal one of the most visible Japanese bands in Anglo-America. This chapter explores Babymetal's fusion of idol and metal by analysing the lyrics for the band's first two albums, Babymetal (2014) and Metal Resistance (2016). Following an introduction to kawaii metal through the lens of Anglo-American press, the author elucidates Babymetal's origins as a sub-unit of the idol group Sakura Gakuin. With this background established, the author investigates the use of wordplay and themes relating to childishness and adolescence in the lyrics on Babymetal's debut album. Examining the lyrics of the band's second album illuminates a more thorough integration of idol and metal tropes, including more English-language lyrics, seemingly designed to align Babymetal with a more global metal audience, managing the interplay of Western and Eastern influences.