Size / / /

Heavy metal: pimply, prole, putrid, unchic, unsophisticated, anti-intellectual (but impossibly pretentious), dismal, abysmal, terrible, horrible and stupid music, barely music at all . . . music made by slack-jawed, alpaca-haired, bulbous-inseamed imbeciles in jackboots and leather and chrome for slack-jawed, alpaca-haired, downy-mustachioed imbeciles in cheap, too large t-shirts with pictures of comic book Armageddon ironed on the front . . .  —Robert Duncan, music critic (1989:36)

Vala he is that's what you said
Then your oath's been sworn in vain
Freely you came and
You freely shall depart
Never trust the northern winds
Never turn your back on friends —Blind Guardian, "Nightfall" (1998)

The sonic dimension of heavy metal music can be defined by extremes: heavy, distorted, and technically impressive electric guitar; loud, frantic double bass drumming; prominent bass; and growled, snarled, or virtuoso vocals. Its fans consist predominately of greasy-haired, black-T-shirt-clad, marijuana-smoking, blue-collar, male teens who wouldn't know a literary masterpiece if it were propping up their beer fridge. How, then, did the works of J. R. R. Tolkien permeate this subculture? Why is it that thousands of metal fans worldwide see Tolkien's works as synonymous with the ideology of heavy metal, when Tolkien would have abhorred the music and its fans?

To understand this phenomenon it is necessary to know something about heavy metal. The genre solidified from the rock scene in the early '70s with bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Judas Priest. This was also the era when science fiction and fantasy boomed—thanks to Tolkien, Star Wars, and Dungeons & Dragons—and the two subcultures attracted a similar fan base (Trafford and Pluskowski 2007:60). Heavy metal can be broken down into several subgenres, each with its own separate history and each bringing something important to the metal cacophony: death metal, thrash metal, power metal, black metal, grindcore, nu-metal, folk metal, Harry Potter metal. Many metal fans—metalheads, as they are commonly known—enjoy a range of bands from several different subgenres but focus their attention on one or two subgenres in particular.

Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture

Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music



Stephanie Green lives in New Zealand with her cantankerous drummer husband and a cupboard full of swords. By day she transcribes braille and produces large-print and audio books for the blind, and by night you'll find her tearing up the mosh pit at her local heavy metal bar.
No comments yet. Be the first!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Current Issue
10 Aug 2020

Let me tell you how I first met Seax-of-Peony, Empress of the Known Moons.
By: Anya Johanna DeNiro
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Anya Johanna DeNiro's “A Voyage to Queensthroat.”
When your people came down from the stars / we put you in jails and cellars and basements
By: Laura Cranehill
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Laura Cranehill's “We Let You Live.”
Wednesday: The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North 
Issue 3 Aug 2020
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More