Heavy Metal and the Communal Experience An Introduction

Varas-Dias, Nelson and Scott, Niall William richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5120-4132 (2016) Heavy Metal and the Communal Experience An Introduction. In: Heavy Metal and the Communal Experience. Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland USA, vi-xii. ISBN Hbk: 978-1-4985-0638-0 (August 2016); EBook: 978-1-4985-0639-7 (August 2016)

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To the unfamiliar eye the relation between metal music and community might seem like a contradiction. After all, how can community emanate from practices that to outsiders seem to foster loudness, extremity and violence? Those individuals that have enjoyed this musical genre at some point in their lives will probably have a very different appreciation of metal music and its culture in terms of community. In fact, many aspects of metal music point towards the importance of community as part of its practices. Some salient examples can be provided just to illustrate this argument. These include shared experiences (e.g. concerts, listening to music together), dress codes (e.g. use of recognizable band shirts), behavioral expectations (e.g. protection during mosh pits), use of collective information outlets (e.g. magazines, websites), and jointly discussed significant events (e.g. death of a musician). The central idea is that when these experiences are shared and valued by many persons, they can provide individuals with a sense of meaning and purpose that allows them to come together as a community. Although this may sound simple enough, it is actually quite a complex process. Beyond being a mere association of people, the complexity involves processes that concern exploring the expanse and the limits of the metal community and even dealing with paradoxes where although the music may be held in common, values such as political, artistic and ethical ones can be extremely diverse. Yet these are all held together under the banner of ‘metal’.

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