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Heavy metal is now over forty years old and has developed into a diverse and multi-faceted genre. Wherever it is found and however it is played, metal's fascination with transgression has often meant it has been embroiled in controversy. Controversies surrounding the alleged connection between heavy metal and, variously, sexual promiscuity, occultism and Satanism, subliminal messages, suicide and violence have made heavy metal a target of moral panics over popular culture. Metal has variously embraced, rejected, played with and tried to ignore this controversy and it remains irrevocably marked by its controversial, transgressive tendencies. This anthology provides a thorough investigation of how and why metal becomes controversial, how metal 'scenes' are formed. It examines the relationship between metal and society, including how fans, musicians and the media create the culture of heavy metal.
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Titus Hjelm is Lecturer in Finnish Society and Culture at University College London. His main areas of expertise are cultural sociology, sociology of religion, social problems, media and popular culture. He is currently working on a book on social constructionism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and editing a volume titled Religion and Social Problems (Routledge, 2010). He is also a member of the internationally acclaimed metal band Thunderstone. Keith Kahn-Harris is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College. He is the author of Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge (Berg, 2006) and writes the blog Metal Jew. Mark LeVine is Professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic studies at University of California Irvine and author and editor of several books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Random House/Three Rivers Press, 2008 and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).Review:
"A powerful addition to the metal studies literature, this book is overflowing with insights into the cultural politics of heavy metal music. With lively writing, interdisciplinary approaches, and a global perspective, these chapters offer ideas that have broad implications for the study of popular music scenes and their dynamics, media scandals, the relationship between music and affect, and the role of culture in social life." --Professor Harris M. Berger, Texas A & M University
"From Christian metal to African American metal artists to the pleasures of feeling 'brutal,' Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures explores a wide array of topics too often neglected in the critical study of the genre. The book is global in both the range of contributors and of its subject matter, and so joins the recent Metal Rules the Globe as proof that the field of global metal studies is in full bloom." --Steve Waksman, author of This Ain't the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk
"Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures grants a deeper understanding of how metal's transgressive qualities have come to define how the genre is viewed from both the outside and within...its interdisciplinary and global focus, along with its often enthusiastic and engaging viewpoints, present a fascinating portrait of how the controversy surrounding metal operates within wider society." --Craig Hayes, PopMatters
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