Co-edited with Titus Hjelm and Mark LeVine

Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures

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.



1. Introduction: Heavy Metal as Controversy and Counterculture
Titus Hjelm, Keith Kahn-Harris and Mark LeVine

Part I: Controversies

2. Suicide Solutions? Or how the Emo Class of 2008 were Able to Contest their Media Demonization, whereas the Headbangers, Burnouts or ‘Children of ZoZo’ Generation were not
Andy R. Brown, Bath Spa University

3. ‘How You Gonna See Me Now’: Recontextualizing Metal Artists and Moral Panics
Brad Klypchak, Texas A & M University – Commerce

4. Triumph of the Maggots? Valorization of Metal in the Rock Press
Hélène Laurin

5. Dworkin’s Nightmare: Porn Grind as the Sound of Feminist Fears
Lee Barron, Northumbria University

6. The ’Double Controversy’ of Christian Metal
Marcus Moberg, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

7. Hellfest: The Thing that Should not be? Local Perceptions and Catholic Discourses on Metal Culture in France
Gérôme Guibert, University Paris III, and Jedediah Sklower, independent scholar

Part II: Countercultures

8. Malang, Indonesia and Toledo, USA: A Theory of Metal Scene Formation
Jeremy Wallach, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and Alexandra Levine

9. Voice of Our Blood: National Socialist Discourses in Black Metal
Benjamin Hedge Olson

10. Extreme Music for Extreme People? Norwegian Black Metal and Transcendent Violence
Michelle Phillipov, University of Tasmania

11. The Extreme Metal ‘Connoisseur’
Nicola Allett, Louchborough University

12. Black Metal Soul Music: Stone Vengeance and the Aesthetics of Race in Heavy Metal
Kevin Fellezs, Columbia University

13. (I) Hate Girls and Emo(tion)s: Negotiating Masculinity in Grindcore Music
Rosemary Overell

14. Heavy Metal and the Deafening Threat of the Apolitical
Niall Scott, University of Central Lancashire

Book cover of Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures

Formats available: Hardback, Paperback, E-Book

First Published: April 1, 2013

Publisher: Equinox

Reviews for Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures

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

Harris M. Berger, author of 'Metal, Rock and Jazz'

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'

Offers rigorous explorations of heavy metal subcultures from leading scholars in the field. This insightful book is a superior source of in-depth research on black metal, in particular, and mainstream media and community responses to it. Also strongly represented are cross-cultural approaches to heavy metal culture, which broach difficult and relevant issues such as religious intolerance and racism in metal. Recommended.


For long-time (or fresh-faced) metal fans, there’s a lot of insightful analysis to enjoy here.

The editors of this collection all have serious bona fides in the scholarly study of metal.