Heavy Metal at the Movies conference issues call for papers

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The Popular Culture Association (PCA) announced the theme for its upcoming meeting on April 1-4, 2015 as “how heavy metal culture relates to cinema.” The PCA issued a call for papers on this topic so that aspiring heavy metal studies scholars can submit writings in advance of the conference.

Held in New Orleans, the conference will allow participants a chance to present papers and network with others in the fields of heavy metal studies and popular culture studies. The PCA accepts a broad range of topics: “Papers on individual films, metal (sub)genres or individual bands are all welcome, as are more theoretical musings on the interrelationship between cinema and metal.” It gives the following sample topic areas:

  • how heavy metal is (ab)used in feature films
  • how documentary films create, expand, and discuss a sense of group identity
  • how cinematic traditions are used in heavy metal culture.

If interested in submitting a paper, please send a 300-word abstract by October 15, 2014 to Gerd.Bayer@fau.de. The official call for papers notice can be found here.

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The relationship between heavy metal and horror movies

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Apparently Kirk Hammett’s Fear FestEvil went off without a hitch, bringing together metal fans and horror movie fans in a celebration of movie artifacts, horror movie personalities and metal bands saluting their favorite genre of film.

The festival featured performances by Exodus, Death Angel and Carcass, but also had as guests Kerry King (Slayer), Scott Ian (Anthrax/SOD), Doyle (Mistfits) and of course Hammett (Metallica) himself. In addition, you could meet movie legends like Boris Karloff’s wife and son, the man in the Godzilla suit Haruo Nakajima and a number of a directors and actresses from horror movies over the years.

The most interesting quote of the day however came from Hammett himself, who outlined the reasons for the relationship between metal and horror movies:

“There’s a lot of horror elements that have been used in heavy metal for a long time ago. I mean, Black Sabbath was named after a movie. And that was the amazing thing. I was a horror fan and then I became a music fan and then I discovered hard rock and heavy metal and I’d see all these little pieces of imagery or song titles or lyrics borrowed from horror films throughout all these heavy metal bands. They’re made up of the same ingredients. For me, a good horror movie is fun, dynamic, exciting to watch, peaks and valleys. A good heavy metal song, for me, is the same way — exciting to listen to, peaks and valleys, really fun and energetic.”

This leads to the broader question of the connection between metal and horror movies on an artistic level. While many writers have focused on the economic connections, shared fanbase, or similar aesthetic, few have analyzed the question as Hammett has by showing how the two gesture in artistically similar ways. But this resembles statements made by Black Sabbath about the invention of early metal:

One day I thought that it seemed strange that a lot of people spend so much money to see scary movies. Nobody really wanted to listen to us, so we decided to play slightly scary music. We liked it and, yeah, that’s how it all got started. That’s the story of Black Sabbath.

As many commentators have noted, Black Sabbath came out of the late 1960s when “flower power” was still in full flourish. The band wanted to inject a note of darker reality into the notion that one could simply peace out and all would be well. In the world that Black Sabbath introduced, darkness was preeminent but invisible, much like the threatening characters in horror movies who owing to their supernatural or psychotic states can never be pinned down and isolated.

Over the years, metal has cemented its relationship with horror films with lyrical and topical allusions aplenty. As various other cultural movements run themselves over cliffs like drunken parties touring the countryside, and yet metal (and horror films) endures, it might make sense to wonder if those who see the darkness were correct after all.

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Bazillion Points releases Heavy Metal Movies

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Metal-related publisher Bazillion Points (of Metalion and Only Death is Real fame) is furthering its extensive catalogue, this time with a book chronicling the exploits of heavy metal movies.

Written by Mike “McBeardo” McPadden, Heavy Metal Movies covers over 1300 films, ranging from movies explicitly about a heavy metal theme (obligatory This Is Spinal Tap entry), to movies that were metal in spirit and thus became involved in bands’ artistic development (notably Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian), in addition to various violent slashers and metal documentaries. Reviews are accompanied by color photographs and promotional artwork.

Continuing the explosion of metal documentation, the book aims to appeal to both the devoted metalhead and general fans of popular culture. If this upholds the quality standards of Bazillion Points’ previous releases, this will be an excellent coffee table book for metalheads to show off to those who may be unaware of metal’s reach as an artistic phenomenon.

At 4 lbs. and 576 pages, the book is currently available for pre-order for $24.95 and is scheduled to ship sometime in May. Those who purchase now receive free stuff as a bonus: a patch and a barf bag.

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Abigor- Höllenzwang

Abigor are back with their 9th album, which is sadly a continuation of the ideas on Leytmotif Luzifer.  Hailing from Vienna in Austria, Abigor definitely have the style and look associated with their hometown but even in arguably their last bad work : Nacthymnen ( From the Twilight Kingdom) they have always lacked substance in comparison to the greats in the European black metal style.  Leytmotif Luzifer was Deathspell Omega worship with the remnants of what could be qualified as generic second wave black metal. Here they continue in that substanceless yet somewhat more refined method of songcraft….

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Somber Lands: The Harmonic Minor Scale

Dark, brooding, and long cloaked in obscurity, the harmonic minor scale is a compelling collective of notes that has historically been used as an accent to minor key compositions.  For centuries only a handful of pieces had been written within its bounds as composers instead opted to weave in for a number of measures before an eventual progression into the natural minor scale.  From there it appeared again in a few folk songs, took a strong spiritual presence in Islamic culture, and later became an integral part of horror movies when they progressed into the frightening mediums they became in the 1970s.  But it wasn’t until the musicians of the early Swedish death metal scene discovered how to fully harness the scale’s potential that lengthy songs and even the majority of some albums began being composed within its bounds.  A truly grotesque wedlock, the scale gave he who wielded it the power to craft the most sinister and foreboding compositions possible within the laws of music.  It is for this reason one could attest that the minor harmonic scale has found a home in heavy metal that no other genre of music could provide.
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Star Wars: Tie Fighter 1994 LucasArts

Throughout literature, film, and any other telling of the Arthurian legend there is usually a hard line stance taken on characters or ideas being indisputably good or evil.  The heroes and villains are on conflicting sides of a fundamental and absolute morality despite reality often being much more complicated.  The Star Wars franchise followed this school of thought- casting the Empire as the evil and soulless reflection of Western history’s teaching of the axis powers of World War II.  It parallels the post-French Revolution narrative that all democracy is good and all imperial reigns are heinous and wrong.

It is because of this that we can remember LucasArts’s 1994 PC flight simulator Tie Fighter as such a refreshingly bold and surprising experiment in a world of video games where the narrative is always fixated on “the good guys.”  In Tie fighter, you are- from start to finish- fighting on behalf of a faction that the movies portrayed as dark and merciless dictatorship that is completely void of humanity.  No change of heart in your character halfway through (as in this year’s disastrous Battlefront 2), no surprising twist- you’re essentially waging war with all that is good and just in the galaxy.  It’s one of the first and possibly few games that take this perspective, and – for one of the first times for a mainstream game of this caliber-  Tie Fighter gives the player a unique chance to embrace the understanding that morality is often a form of perspective.

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Trend Remover: The Last Jedi Is The Last Film You Should Ever See


by Hentavirus Jefferson-Gonzales

In my small mid-western town, everyone but one guy went to the new Star Wars™ Disney film, The Last Jedi. That is, if “everyone” means all of the hipsters, SWPLs, corporate cucks, bro-hold-my-beer, 4chan neckbeards, backyard shed dwelling NEETs, goodguy white knight Mormons, and SJWs count as “everyone.” The one guy stayed home because he had power diarrhea but his friends kept texting him pictures and updates.

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Atmospheric Dendrophilia

Recently, I found a Youtube channel called “Atmospheric Black Metal Albums” devoted to what hipster urban lumberjacks have termed “atmospheric black metal”. We must call attention to the horrible Youtube, supposedly “black metal” sub-genre festering right under our noses for it is wholly different from the Eastern European flowing varietal.

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Whoredom Rife – Dommedagskvad (2017)


Review contributed by Jon Browning.

Whoredom Rife are exactly what is wrong with modern “underground” “metal”. All these posers do is take a bunch of riffs from records over twenty years old, chop them up, and randomly attach a few of them together to make… a track.

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