MRTG Reviewed in Razorcake Zine!



Metal Rules the Globe
Edited by Jeremy Wallach, Harris M. Berger, and Paul D. Greene, 381 pgs.

By Kurt Morris
Friday, March 30 2012

Yes, as I am writing this review, I am listening to Slayer’s Reign in Blood. However, this book is not directly about them. Metal Rules the Globe is, rather, a text about the effect of bands such as Slayer, Metallica, Venom, Black Sabbath, Anthrax, and other early metal pioneers on the metal scene around the world. It’s a look at the subgenres that exist and how the distinctly Anglo-American phenomenon of heavy metal music has had an impact on various countries and peoples worldwide.

First things first, though—this is an academic text. This is not a pleasure read. It’s written by academics and is not meant for a general audience. Terms such as capital, play, and hegemony are used in their academic sense and issues of gender, race, and technology are discussed. While this wasn’t a big deal to me (my writing sample for the application to my American Studies grad program was about metal music and the Parents Media Resource Council, so a lot of this was familiar to me), I don’t want some casual Razorcake fan picking this up and saying, “I don’t want to think this much when I’m reading about heavy metal.” You’ve been warned.

However, that being said, this is a fine work. The introduction of Metal Rules the Globe does a great job of setting the stage for what is to follow. The editors lay out in the first chapter what to expect and it’s then followed up by Deena Weinstein, who was one of the early academics to write about the sociological aspects of heavy metal music. She’s the perfect person to guide the reader into the general history of heavy metal and its process of globalization.

According to the editors, there are four main themes explored in the book: “the analyses of metal’s distinctive sounds; the varied cultural meanings that metalheads ascribe to those sounds, the social dynamics of local scenes in which metal is created, consumed, and lived; and the diverse situated performance of identity in metal.” The book is then broken up into five parts: Metal, Gender, Modernity; Metal and the Nation; Metal and Extremist Ideologies; Metal and the Music Industry; and Small Nation/Small Scene Case Studies. In the final section, metal is looked at in the Mediterranean island-nation of Malta, Slovenia, andEaster Island, one of the most remote places on the planet.

Metal Rules the Globe is incredibly diverse. It is comprehensive and covers the effect metal has had worldwide, the ways in which unique cultures and subgenres have utilized heavy metal to make it achieve their own goals, and how it is reflected in their own struggles and lives. The authors are a range of academics from around the world. A number of them are also heavy metal musicians. It’s safe to say that all of them are fans of the music. Even though the text may be academic, beneath a number of the chapters you can tell there are some serious fanboys and girls, which is pretty awesome.

Other chapters discuss metal in China, Nepal, Israel, Indonesia,Singapore, and Japan. Often, these look at specific bands in each country to serve as an example of the development of the metal scene in the nation at large. The chapters I enjoyed the most, however, were Sharon Hochhauser’s focus on Hatecore (neo-Nazi metal) and Ross Hagen’s look at Norwegian Black Metal. Both chapters served to inform me further about two scenes in which I was already somewhat interested.

While not all the chapters were as intriguing as those, the fact that each was written by a different author and about such varying subjects means that if one chapter isn’t your thing (and if you’re a metal fan) there’s likely to be a few others that are up your alley. I can’t help but think that for academics in the pop culture, anthropology, musicology, and sociology fields, this will become an important text. It’s well written and easy to understand for even someone with a nominal interest in metal while retaining a good sense of authority. Also, there is an entire chapter about Sepultura. For real. Long live metal! No matter what part of the world it comes from. (Duke University Press, Box 90660,Durham, NC 27708-0660)



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