Monday, April 15, 2013

Metal Invades the Ivory Tower

Of all places, the Wall Street Journal, has published a front-page article on the proceedings at the International Conference on Heavy Metal and Popular Culture that took place April 4–7 at Bowling Green State University. The article is behind a pay wall, but here's the link if you're a WSJ subscriber. This congregation of self-described "metallectuals", was a scholarly meeting of "a new generation of academics who grew up on groups like Black Sabbath" that "is raising metal's black flag in an unlikely place: academia's ivory tower."

You can view the agenda for the conference here. Among the talks given were "Metalocalypse as Meta-Discourse", "Nordic Metal Avenger: Jon Mikl Thor's Performances of Superhero Characters", and "The Emergence of Realist Metal Video on MTV, 1983-1983, or Metal in the Pre-Tawny Kitaen Era on MTV". The WSJ continues, "At the conference, musicologists delved into the deep growling of so-called death metal singers, demonstrating the differences between inhaled and exhaled screams, and revealed how some 'speed' metal bands secretly use computers to fake their superfast drumming—despite most metal fans' distaste for artifice."

The rising number of academic papers on heavy metal has even inspired a dedicated journal as the WSJ reports:

"The International Society for Metal Music Studies recently launched a peer-reviewed journal, 'Metal Music Studies,' following a heated debated over what to name it. 'You want to distinguish between toxicology and metal, when you're talking about heavy metal studies. People could think—are they studying metals, or music?' Mr. (Brian) Hickam said."

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