Metal and Transgression: Scenes, Politics, and Religion

  • 6 – 7 September 2023
    8:45 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Room B2.13, Arna Nováka 1, Brno

As one of the many branches of rock music, metal was identified with notions of transgressiveness, controversy, and rebelliousness, both by internal scene members and outsiders. As such, the neverending quest for transgression and controversy became one of the most important driving forces of metal’s artistic and social practice, urging the metalheads to cross the boundaries of musical and social forms in order to preserve and further develop the perceived authentic nature of metal. Besides the constant intensification of musical and lyrical extremity from heavy metal to extreme metal and beyond, metal’s thirst for transgressiveness and opposition found its articulations also in the various usages of religious elements and political ideologies. Since its emergence, the scene was not afraid to employ the symbol of Satan and other religious signifiers of evil and alterity, as well as to flirt with various forms of radical political protest, in both its right-wing and left-wing forms. Thus, metal has also attracted many outsiders. For them, various transgressive practices of metal could represent not just an invitation for artistic collaboration, but also a socially dangerous problem to be solved (e.g. moral panics concerning metal in the 1980s), or, conversely, a sign of metal’s potential for the desired social change (like in the interactions of radical right-wing political personae with black metal).

As this brief overview exemplifies, transgression and metal together produce a vast array of artistic and social processes, forms, and effects. To study them, one must examine the ever-changing boundaries of various social and cultural categories and systems. It is this linking of metal and transgression in its full richness, that we would like to dedicate our conference to.

Co-organisers: Czech Metal Studies, Metal Studies in Central/Eastern Europe

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