Seasons in the Abyss: Heavy Metal As Liturgy

Scott, Niall William richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5120-4132 (2014) Seasons in the Abyss: Heavy Metal As Liturgy. Diskus, 16 (1). pp. 12-29. ISSN 0967-8948

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In the past few years the music and culture of heavy metal has drawn attention to itself in its relationship to mysticism, religious practice and theology. In this paper I aim to show that heavy metal, giving specific attention to the extreme subgenre of black metal, can function in terms of liturgy. I claim that it can carry with it the sense of duty ascribed to the Greek origin of the term, but also be seen as having a parallel with liturgy in terms of a spiritual rite and invoke deeper metaphysical associations with liturgy as engendering an insight into the transcendent. This metaphysical understanding of liturgy is
borrowed from Catherine Pickstock, who I contend opens up the case for heavy metal to be considered in liturgical terms, but not without criticism of her assumptions regarding art and spectacle which she holds to offer only a pseudo liturgy in the context of modernity. In this piece I aim to speak of an encounter between black metal with an apophatic liturgy; a liturgy of negation, where one can use words and structures to annul meaning and structure. This apophatic liturgy provides an opportunity to explore the possibilities that can provide insights into the relationship between mysticism and liturgy by
challenging what liturgy refers to; in the case of black metal it refers to a meaningless void, rather than an object of worship.

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