Below is my abstract for the upcoming International "Heavy Fundamentalism" conference. Yes, I said "International". It's an amazing conference put on by the folks at Critical Issues. It's taking place in Salzburg, Austria. This will be only the second time I've been to Europe, so it will be doubly exciting. I first stumbled upon on this via Terrorizer magazine writer and Judaic scholar (yes, he's both), Keith Khan Harris' fascinating MetalJew blog. I will be expanding this to a full 8 page, Oxford-formatted paper and will also be doing a 20 minute presentation. So, this will be more of an "intellectual" version of hanging out with my friends at a Ludicra show or Amoeba.
Title: Extreme Politics and Extreme Metal: Strange Bedfellows or Fellow Travelers?
Body of abstract:
Extreme Metal’s relation extreme politics provides for a variety of examples. From Slayer’s “Angel of Death” in the 1980’s to the Norwegian Black Metal scene in the 1990’s to the current strain of National Socialist Black Metal – extreme politics have played a role in extreme metal either aesthetically or ideologically. Such combinations are nothing new in the music world. Richard Wagner’s denouncement of Jews is widely known. Performances of his works are still very controversial in Israel. Furthermore, one can look at the 1970’s punk movement in England and its use of using Nazi imagery for shock value. Additionally, racist lyrics have in the past cropped up in hip-hop artists such as Public Enemy and Ice Cube. Heavy Metal’s own relation with such extreme attitudes has a history that has been around almost as long the genre itself.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the growth of both extreme metal and its relation to extreme politics. Extreme Metal can be defined as Thrash Metal (i.e. early Metallica, Kreator), Grindcore (Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer), Death Metal (Morbid Angel, Nile) and black metal (Darkthrone, Burzum). Extreme politics can be defined as both ultra–right (i.e. fascist and Nazi) and on some instances ultra-left wing (communist, anarchist). This will also look into whether or not certain artists are using extreme politics for mere shock or to actually endorse dangerous ideas. Furthermore, this will explore how these ideas have spread worldwide throughout the metal scene. This will also focus on the marketing of each phenomenon across the Internet. While generally considered “outsider” music, there have been numerous media stories, books, documentaries and even art exhibits on Extreme Metal. Such a sensation could explain why Varg Vikernes’ image appearing in a window of a t-shirt shop in such unexpected places such as Berkeley, California. In summary, this will touch on how and why music from the margins of society can be affected by politics from margins of society.