METAL RULES THE GLOBE
HEAVY METAL MUSIC AROUND THE WORLD
DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Copyright © 2011 Duke University Press
All right reserved.
Chapter One AFFECTIVE OVERDRIVE, SCENE DYNAMICS, AND IDENTITY IN THE GLOBAL METAL SCENE
Jeremy Wallach, Harris M. Berger, and Paul D. Greene
We would like to thank all our fans and friends all over the world, from Jakarta to Moscow!!—Sepultura, 1993 (liner notes for the album Chaos A.D.)
We are here because we cannot live without our music. Every drumbeat I hear reminds me of the beat of my heart.—Sameh Youssef, a twenty-three-year-old computer science student attending a heavy metal concert outside Cairo (quoted in "Rockin' in the Islamic World," 2006)
Come! Bang your heads to the Dark Rock N' Roll!!!—Holy Flesh Records press release for Dark, a cassette by the Indonesian black metal band Bealiah (ca. 2000)
The band takes the stage and launches into its first song. The music is distorted, pounding, and brutal, and it is so loud that it seems to fill in the space between the musicians and the audience members. Sweat pours down the singer's face as he bellows the lyrics in a voice that is half rasp, half scream. The instrumentalists— bass guitarist, electric guitarist, and drummer—gnash their teeth and grimace as if in pain as they concentrate on bashing out their parts. Some in the predominantly, but not exclusively, male audience respond to the music with moshing (a dance involving intentional collisions with other dancers) and headbanging (rhythmic up-and-down movements of the head and neck), their flailing bodies contorting to the beat. Performers and audience are dressed alike—jeans, T-shirts, and long hair or buzz cuts—and they play their roles at the concert as though their lives depended on it. And perhaps, in a sense, they do. Metal around the world has become a viable mode of resistance, of identity assertion, and of self-empowerment, often in the face of powerful, totalizing, and even life-threatening forces.
The concert described above took place in 2002 in Cleveland's Grog Shop, the venerable rock club in that city's trendy Coventry Village section, but it could easily have taken place in Tokyo, Kathmandu, Jakarta, Tel Aviv, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Oslo, or any number of other sites the world over in the last fifteen years. Yet the fact that metal music, fashion, and behavior exist in all these places does not necessarily imply that they mean the same things in these quite different cultural contexts. The chapters in this book demonstrate that in every setting, metal is embedded in local cultures and histories and is experienced as part of a complex and historically specific encounter with the forces of modernity. The globalization of metal is well upon us, and with this book we hope to both investigate the specific, variable meanings of heavy metal music and culture for metalheads around the world and contribute insights into the large-scale social processes that have facilitated the music's dramatic worldwide expansion.
METAL GOES GLOBAL
The term heavy metal has come to denote a cluster of rock music styles that emphasize loud, distorted guitars; prominent and aggressive drums; emotionally extreme singing techniques; and musical complexity and esotericism (unlike punk, for instance). Frequently misunderstood and maligned in its countries of origin, heavy metal music has in the last four decades become a potent source of meaning and identity for young and no-longer-so-young people across the planet. These fans have stayed loyal to the music despite societal disapproval, occasional moral panics, censorship, and even government harassment and violence. Metal Rules the Globe is the first academic book to explore the broad swath of metal's worldwide growth and examine why this often devalued, censored, and ridiculed music genre has attracted so many devoted fans in far-flung locales. Fans and musicians initially developed connections across vast distances through transnational networks of photocopied fanzines, paper correspondence, audiocassette trading, concert tours big and small (see Waksman, this volume), and a loosely shared canon of "classic" metal albums; now they use e-mail, Web sites, blogs, YouTube, and MP3s to further these connections. In the process, they forged a new, globally deployed music culture. The worldwide metal ecumene is an imagined community in Benedict Anderson's sense of the phrase (1983), though it is constituted through reading 'zines, listening to recordings, watching videos, and attending concerts, rather than through reading newspapers or novels.
Globalization is certainly nothing new in the history of heavy metal. From the beginnings of the genre in the 1970s, metal has been transnational in scope, emerging simultaneously in the United Kingdom and the United States. In the 1980s, it grew deep roots in continental Europe, Australia, and Japan, and during the 1990s the genre expanded dramatically throughout the world in ways that defied all expectations. And metal shows no signs of slowing down in the new millennium. Published in the early 1980s, the International Encyclopedia of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal (Jasper et al. 1983) had only 15 entries (out of 1,500) for bands originating from outside Europe, North America, and Australia. In mid-2007, the online Encyclopaedia Metallum contained listings for 47,626 metal bands from 129 countries. And the list continues to grow.
METAL AND GLOBALIZATION THEORY
Phenomena of globalization have attracted an enormous amount of attention from researchers in the last three decades. Malcolm Waters pointed out seventeen years ago that globalization is a process that unfolds simultaneously in economic, political, and cultural dimensions and should be understood as encompassing differing domains of social life in order to account for phenomena as diverse as global tourism, diasporic communities, multinational corporations, mass communication technologies, consumerism, and financial speculation (1995). Worldwide interconnectedness is of course hardly a new phenomenon. However, such linkages between people on grand geographical scales have been accelerating rapidly in recent decades in the context of a planet-wide spread of neoliberal, "free market" capitalism facilitated by the post–cold war preeminence of the United States. Likewise, the global dissemination, appropriation, and adaptation of music forms have been happening for centuries, but these processes have accelerated considerably in recent decades due to the advent of mass media technologies and the formation of extensive social networks for music production and distribution, including the grassroots-based but far-flung networks responsible for the dissemination of metal music and culture.
Despite hopes held by some that globalization processes would realize certain utopian potentials, leading to, for example, a transnational capitalist democracy of world citizens, it is evident that globalization unfolds in uneven and in some cases sharply disempowering ways. While ideas about human rights and democracy have spread rapidly and while many economies around the world have benefited from foreign investment and increased global interconnectedness, rigid patterns of exclusion have also emerged. Entire segments of humanity—rural peasants, refugees, urban slum dwellers, industrial workers in the developed world—have been excluded from these emerging economic and cultural systems and have been locked into spirals of isolation, exploitation, and unemployment. While many studies of globalization and its costs attempt to reduce the phenomenon to a straightforward dialectic between "local" and "global" cultural processes, certain more recent works—especially those of Jean and John Comaroff (2005), Manuel Castells (2000), and Anna Tsing (2005)—have revealed the complex and even paradoxical ways that globalizing forces have transformed everyday life around the world. Moreover, directing exclusive attention to local-global dynamics obscures the importance of regional and national levels of cultural production, levels that remain salient "frameworks of flow" (Hannerz 1992) in almost everyone's daily life. Indeed, rather than fading into irrelevance, nation-states have adopted new roles in the global system, often maintaining or increasing their hold on the imaginations of their citizens.
Ethnographic studies have documented how globalization emerges through the interplay of differing actors with diverse visions and agendas. These conflicting globalization projects are manifested in specific social and material interactions in the lives of locally situated agents. Indeed, social existence around the world increasingly unfolds within what Anna Tsing calls the "friction ... of worldly encounter" (2005, 1), filled with both desires for what globalization has to offer and anxieties about how customary lifeways may be inexorably shaped by it. We suggest that globalization has presented at least two broad challenges to world cultures. First, with the expansion and growing influence of global institutions, transnational networks, and translocal communities, individuals have increasingly become critical of the traditions and values of their immediate families, communities, and nations. Second, transnational capitalism has rapidly and sometimes violently transformed entire cities and regions, from the sudden and wholesale introduction of franchise fast-food chains to the restructuring of entire industries. In response to these two interrelated challenges, some have turned to religious or ethnonational extremisms in the quest for guarantors of personal security during uncertain times. Thus, as Manuel Castells (2004) argues, one paradoxical result of rapid globalization is that many people retreat into individuated identities, dividing the world into rigid us/them dichotomies. In this book, we suggest that metalheads around the world are responding to these twin challenges of globalization in ways that reject both conformity to a new global capitalist order and narrow fundamentalisms based on ethnicity, religion, or locality. As the chapters in this volume demonstrate, when musicians and fans around the world align themselves with a transnational metal community, they begin to stake out stances (Berger 2009) and identities that are sharply opposed to certain local or national customs and values, while strengthening their rootedness in others. In every case discussed here, heavy metal fandom serves as a viable cultural and affective alternative for disempowered youths, one that is often just as critical of globalization's tendency to bring with it crass consumerism, class divisiveness, and uneven development as it is of the authority of traditional norms of behavior. In this context, the scholarship on "multiple" or "alternative" modernities is useful for understanding metal's worldwide spread.
METAL, MODERNITY, MUSIC
Through at least the middle of the twentieth century, anthropologists, development theorists, and intellectual historians had viewed modernity as a set of social, political, and economic processes emerging in Western Europe, including such wide-ranging phenomena as industrialization, the rise of the nation-state, secularization, Enlightenment individualism, mass media technologies, changing gender roles, and an increased pace of social change. Where these older theorists of modernity saw these phenomena as inevitably linked together and necessarily spreading from Western Europe to the rest of the world, more recent scholars such as Charles Taylor (1995) and Dilip Gaonkar (2001) argue that these various features do not necessarily implicate one another, that modernity can take varying, culturally specific forms, and that the spread of social change does not only move from the West to the rest. Inspired by Milton Singer's groundbreaking 1972 study, When a Great Tradition Modernizes, and drawing on the ideas of the multiple modernities theorists, a range of scholars from Arjun Appadurai (1990) to Giovanna Del Negro (2004) have understood expressive culture as an arena in which the meanings of such social changes are negotiated. We carry forward this tradition to view heavy metal in this manner—as a key site in which social agents publicly think about and debate modernity's wrenching social changes. In reflecting on the conditions of their lives, metalheads critique both the officially sanctioned versions of social change and the totalizing, regressive attempts at its wholesale rejection. In crafting new meanings (new visions of gender identity; new relations between the local and, in Amy Shuman's phrase, the "larger-than-local" ; new visions of the person's relations to the modern nation-state) heavy metal musicians and fans from differing parts of the world forge related but distinct responses to modernity.
With the wide geographical growth of metal, both its musical style and its culture have expanded, and new metalheads situated in diverse settings have sounded their own particular aesthetics and sociopolitical concerns, many of which are discussed in the following pages. Despite significant differences across national and regional metal scenes, though, all metal-heads, regardless of their preferred subgenre or subgenres, view metal as the opposite of light entertainment. To them, it is a form of serious music that endorses a particular set of values. In the words of a middle-aged Deep Purple fan from Russia, "There are some bands that are out there for entertainment [that is, pop music bands outside of metal], but there are others that have moral content, like Deep Purple.... It makes me feel good that the youth of this country are learning about it" (quoted in Cullison 2004; see Bushnell 1990, 82–94, for an excellent discussion of the place of heavy metal in the former Soviet Union). The following chapters make clear that no matter where it is found, metal music answers the question of how ethics (that is, formulations of the proper way of being in the world) fit into a disenchanted universe by offering a promise of community and significance built around powerful emotions and amplified sounds. Of course, one of the paramount values of metal culture is the music itself and rich aesthetic experiences. Lack of attention to aesthetics, a problem that plagues popular music studies in general, is therefore an especially conspicuous omission when analyzing heavy metal (Clinton 2010). As Keith Kahn- Harris notes in his landmark study of extreme metal, "music has a more paramount place in the extreme metal scene than is the case in other scenes such as the goth or punk scenes, where other practices such as fashion or activism are just as important" (2007, 154). Thus, as a site of sonic pleasure, the focus of a social group, and a means of negotiating modernity and social change, metal is a phenomenon of great aesthetic and sociopolitical complexity.
If the globalization of metal has been going on for some time, it was not until the early 1990s that this music attracted the attention of scholars. Three foundational texts ground the scholarly literature in this area: Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids by Donna Gaines (1991), Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology by Deena Weinstein (1991), and Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music by Robert Walser (1993a). These books—especially Walser's, which remains a cultural studies classic—had a transformative effect on metal scholarship, which until then tended to privilege dismissive or bemused outsider perspectives that were often little better than those of the sensationalistic mass media. Eschewing both impassioned but vague pronouncements about heavy metal and superficial outsider treatments in favor of careful, sympathetic research, the early 1990s "power trio" of Gaines, Weinstein, and Walser inspired books by Harris M. Berger (1999a), Susan Fast (2001), Chris McDonald (2009), Natalie Purcell (2003), Glenn Pillsbury (2006), Keith Kahn-Harris (2007), and Steve Waksman (1999, 2009) that include detailed, nuanced accounts of metal fans and their music. Taken together, the research contained in these books, along with that found in dozens of contemporaneous scholarly articles and edited volumes, richly draws out insider perspectives on heavy metal and its culture by deploying the methods of ethnography, social history, and musical and cultural analysis.
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