After almost one and a half years, my latest publication in the field of Metal Studies is finished. It is entitled: Between Woodstock, Oss and Rammstein. Metal images in the Dutch press: The Nineties. It will be edited in German and be part of the publication series of my university. But there are a few interviews printed in English. In addition, there will be an English summary of the main results later. There will also be an open access version so that everyone can access the digital edition for free.
Here is the abstract:
With regard to the topic of “metal in the Netherlands”, the nineties were a special period: after modest beginnings, the Dynamo Open Air in Eindhoven temporarily developed into the biggest metal festival in Europe. In addition, The Gathering was the first Dutch metal band to achieve considerable success in the domestic charts. Apart from that, the decade was characterised by numerous stylistic changes that permanently altered the hardest form of electric guitar music and also left their mark in the Netherlands. This publication aims to answer the question of how the Dutch press reacted to these developments and which metal images they created in the nineties. The focus here is not on specialist magazines, but on nationally published daily newspapers such as the NRC Handelsblad and the Algemeen Dagblad, as well as regional papers such as the Brabants Dagblad and the Eindhovens Dagblad. To complement the results of this source analysis, numerous interview partners, journalists and (mostly) metal musicians, have their say. Two guest contributions by Aidan Stein, history student and editor-in-chief of the metal platform Epic Metal Blog alongside André Krause, provide further depth and additional food for thought.
I did one of the interviews with Vladimir Garčević (Claymorean). I would like to present it to you here as a kind of teaser.
There’s a huge absence of rebellion in music for the bigger part of the 21st century. I never considered metal as this revolutionary style, like punk, reggae or hip-hop were, but I can agree on the thought that it represents a rebellion against puritanical views on the world and society. If we look back at the Eighties as the “golden era of metal”, we can understand its rebellious nature as a form of opposition to authority, and by authority it mostly meant parents, school and church, but to some point the state and the government (especially in thrash metal lyrics). The Norwegian black metal movement in the Nineties was the last one that dealt with any kind of rebelling against something. But as soon as it was gone, metal music lost that rebellious character. I mean, it’s still loud and hard, but nowadays parents have almost nothing against it, and also the church seems to be not so vocational about it. However, there are some governments, especially in the Middle East, which together with religious institutions are forbidding metal music and even incarcerate people who play it. This is the very thing we must rebel against. So, while metal still remains, for most of the part, in the underground spheres, it’s not as nearly threatening as it was in the late 20th century. And is it established in the mainstream? I would say yes and no. Yes in a way that it became acceptable and accessible to “normal” people, but no in a way that it represents a big deal in the music industry, primarily in the music media. Yeah, we can see some news about Metallica, Maiden, Slipknot and even Priest in the mainstream media, but that’s as far as it goes. The real heavy metal, especially the one that’s been labeled as NWOTHM, is still in the deepest pits of the underworld.
Being a metalhead in Serbia isn’t a simple thing, especially if you are in a metal band. It’s not that anyone here forbids you to do it, it’s just that you’ve been cast aside and hardly anyone really gives a damn about you or notices that you even exist. The situation in the cities is slightly better, but just in terms of the quantity. Also in cities like Belgrade, Novi Sad or Kragujevac, you have a possibility to play and record your music, because there are clubs, venues and studios, while in a small town like Lazarevac, having a functioning metal band is pretty close to a miracle. In recent years we had an uprising of the right-wing political options. Things aren’t yet out of control, but anyone with half a brain can see that their agenda is very much puritanical, strongly influenced by the extreme side of the otherwise benevolent orthodox church. I look at it as a forming of a Christian fundamentalism in Europe and their ideas are pretty backward with high emphasis on patriarchal model of society, where only “traditional” values are desirable and permitted. I wish the term traditional is connected to heavy metal, but sadly it’s rather connected with bigotry, misogyny and chauvinism. Some of the elements these groups propagate are way too close to nazis. I’m not sure how it will reflect on metal bands here, but I don’t think these groups approve lyrics in English and singing about anything that’s not about God or country. If shit hits the fan, we’ll be moving to Finland.