Salzburg Head-Banger Gabfest!

Salzburg Head-Banger Gabfest!

The quaint cobbled streets of Salzburg, Austria ring with string quartets, opera, lieder, and matronly tourists singing tunes from “The Sound of Music.” Next week, Mozart meets Motörhead as 120 scholars gun their Harleys into town for an international conference on Heavy Metal Music. You may have read about in InsideHigherEd or SCREAM! Magazine.

Turn it up to eleven, PhDudes!

The conference was organized by Dr. Niall Scott of the University of Central Lancashire, who told MusicRadar it is time to “recognise heavy metal’s contribution to western society” as a “barometer of what is happening at the extreme edges of political and youth cultures. It’s a movement that maintains extremism in art and culture for its subversion, controversies and silliness.”

Scholars were asked to submit Heavy Metal papers on topics including nationalism, fascism, imagery, iconography, aesthetics, performance, misogyny, homo-sociality, gender issues, masculinities, subculture, religion, anti-religion, evil, satanism, existentialism, nihilism, hedonism, ethics, horror, and gothic fashion.  Everything except audiology.

The committee selected some head-bangin’ papers for the November 3-5 conference, including:

Suicide, Booze and Loud Guitars: The Ethical Problem of Heavy Metal  by Daniel Frandsen BA, MA Stud.; graduate student of philosophy at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

Pentagram (aka Mezarkabul): Founders of Turkish Heavy Metal  by Ilgin Ayik, Istanbul Technical University MIAM (Center for Advanced Studies in Music), Istanbul

Barbarians and Literature: Viking Metal and its links to Old Norse Mythology  by Imke von Helden, Department for Scandinavian Studies, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg

Distortion-drenched Utopias: Metal and Modernity in Southeast Asia  by Jeremy Wallach, Assistant Professor, Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University, Ohio USA

Masculinities within Black Metal: Heteronormativity, Protest Masculinity or Queer?  by Mikael Sarelin, Department of Religion and Folkloristics, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

True Ayryan Black Metal: The Meaning of Leisure, Belonging and the Construction of Whiteness in Black Metal Music by Karl Spracklen

How Diverse Should Metal Be? The Case of Jewish Metal  by Keith Kahn-Harris

Some papers have naughty titles. Full program here.  To download abstracts, click on the name of the session.

A word to prospective attendees from our resident ethnomusicologist: HearOs. Don’t leave home without ’em.

 Note to newbies: There’s a pretty good bibliography of Heavy Metal scholarship here.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

9 Responses to “Salzburg Head-Banger Gabfest!”

  1. Lynn Healey Says:

    Auto-generated related post, “Heavy Metals Can Taint Wine” sounds almost right. A minor adjustment in the title gives us “Wine Can’t Taint Heavy Metal”. Whines can’t either. Sorry I’m going to miss the conference; I have a brown recluse exterminator appointment.

  2. Lynn Healey Says:

    oops, quotes should’ve been outside the punctuation. Need to turn the amp up.

  3. Mike Licht Says:

    Lynn: That Turkish scholar is really hot fiddler, in both senses of the word. She would smoke the Bluegrass world.

  4. Richard Dress Says:

    I believe classical and heavy metal music are tightly linked; don’t they both play notes?

  5. Mike Licht Says:

    Richard: I know Heavy Metal has volume, amplitude, and texture (mostly feedback). I’m not so sure about “notes.” Maybe one of the Salzburg HM scholars has discovered some.

    HM has pyrotechnics; so does Wagner, and his operas use many of the same mythological sources as Heavy Metal. Are there tattoos under those black orchestral tailcoats?

    Heavy Metal Fanzines seem to know.

  6. Seth Kibel (The Alexandria Kleztet) Says:

    How Diverse Should Metal Be? The Case of Jewish Metal by Keith Kahn-Harris

    “Heavy Shtetl,” perhaps???

    – Seth

  7. Mike Licht Says:


    There’s your “concept CD” title right there.

    Get bigger amps, stomp boxes, a smoke machine, shaggy beards, payess, and garbardine coats. Are leather yarmulkes allowed if you get them from a kosher butcher?

    The downside: no more Friday night gigs.


  8. ilgin Says:

    I think you are “hot” guys! 😉

  9. Mike Licht Says:


    [Ilgin Ayik is the Turkish musicologist and heavy metal violinist cited above (Be still, my heart!) -ml]

    We mentioned Bluegrass to Lynn Healey because she is a master of that musical genre here in the Washington, DC area, a virtuoso acoustic guitarist, powerful singer, and masterful arranger. If you come to North America for the SEM meetings, bring your ax!

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