Wallach, Jeremy & Berger, Harris & Greene, Paul (eds.)
Metal Rules The Globe (Book Review)
Released: 2011, Duke University Press
This book METAL RULES THE GLOBE wins the award for ‘Most Obvious Book Title Of The Year’. Of course Metal rules the globe! I’ve known that for 30 years. That’s why our founder EvilG named this site, Metal Rules. Metal not only rules the globe, but everything else too. Well, those are strong words and now we have academic proof to back up such lofty proclamations. On a more serious note perhaps METAL RULES THE GLOBE is the latest in an ever increasing quantity of academic books and papers dedicated to the study of and appreciation of Heavy Metal.
Essentially METAL RULES THE GLOBE is a collection of 14 essays about various aspects of Heavy Metal compartmentalized into six chapters. A book review is not the time or place for an in-depth analysis or critique of each essay, it would be an insult to the authors and the book review would be 14 pages long! It's going to be long enough as it is. Instead I'll just say a couple of sentences on each piece giving you an idea of the nature, style and diversity of such a monumental and groundbreaking collection.
As mentioned there are six parts. It starts with the Introduction with two essays about the globalization of Metal. Up next is 'Metal, Gender and Modernity' (two essays), followed by 'Metal And The Nation' (two essays). Part Four was one of my favorite sections with three essays about Metal and extremist ideologies. The pair of essays that comprise the fifth section 'Metal And The Music Industry' are fascinating and Part Six, 'Small Nation/Small Scene Case Studies' rounds out the book with three essays.
Kids, Don't be afraid of my constant use of the word 'essay'. These works are of an academic nature of course but the nature of the topics being covered is so interesting that it is not like sitting in High School being forced to read some crap (probably an essay) you don't care about, or worse yet having to write an essay. (2000 words due on Monday and you haven't started yet...) As for METAL RULES THE GLOBE, if you are interested in Metal in Japan, there is something here for you. If you are into Sepultura there is something here for you. If you like Kiss and Zeppelin, we got ya covered. Don't think of this book as homework, think of it as a collection of Metal Essays Greatest Hits, with a bonus track being the Afterword by Robert Wasler, author of 2001’s, RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL.
Let's look at the guts of this thing. The book starts with a collaborative effort of the three editors, Jeremy Wallach, Harris M. Berger, and Paul D. Greene and they eloquently discuss the project (10 years in the making!) and look at the global Metal scene. Up next likely one of the most famous Metal academics, Deena Weinstein writes a great and self-explanatory piece called, 'The Globalization Of Metal'. You may know her from Sam Dunn's movie, METAL: A HEADBANGERS JOURNEY or her book HEAVY METAL.
Part Two launches with Cynthia Wong's piece about masculinity in Chinese Metal in the 1990's. Because there was so little Chinese Metal, her work is one of, if not the first, to discuss this region. Jeremy Wallach more than adequately discusses the utterly massive scenes in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore of which he is the expert, having immersed himself in the cultural scene of that region for years.
Part Three starts with Paul Greene's work examining not only the Nepalese Metal
Scene but how the rebellion of the scene manifests itself in the music, lyrics and art. Idelber Avelars’ contribution is an in-depth look at Sepultura and their place representing Brazil and Metal on the global stage. This essay was my least favorite as it had some technical errors and was quite subjective, often overstating the importance of Sepultura, as compared to other Brazilian bands like Viper that had made global in-roads before Sepultura had. However, it's still excellent piece and Sep fans will love it.
Extremist ideologies is the ever popular, ever controversial theme of the next three essays. Sharon Hochhauser does a phenomenal job of documenting the marketing of North American racist Metal industry, unfortunately dubbed 'Hatecore'. Call a spade a spade, it's Metal made by racists for racists, the term 'hate' could apply to many other non-racist bands and sub-genres. Next is Ross Hagen's informative examination of good ol Norwegian Black Metal, one of the most studied cultural phenomena is recent memory. I liked his angle; he avoids regurgitating the sensationalist aspects and actually focuses more on music, image, lyrics rather than the actions of a few individuals. Speaking of extreme, the next essay is by Keith Kahn-Harris, author of the pioneering book EXTREME METAL. In his writing he examines Racism and Globalization especially looking at the Israeli Metal scene. Another favorite of mine in this collection, Kahn-Harris expands on his theories of the collection of transgressive sub-cultural capital, more specifically how some bands/people 'pretend' to be racist to gain legitimacy in a scene that rewards shock and the inherent danger of even pretending to endorse hate and crime. He concludes these damaging actions make it even harder for talented, legitimate bands (specifically) from Israel to gain global acceptance.
As an industry dude I also really enjoyed Part Five and the brace of essays about the Metal Industry. Steve Waksman wrote a fantastic comparative piece about mega-bands (Kiss and Led Zeppelin) and their early incursions into (then) non-traditional Metal markets such as Japan, Brazil. One band toured these regions for commerce and one for artistic reasons. I'll let you guess which band was which. I liked this essay immensely and I felt a renewed appreciation for Waksman's work, especially after giving him a bit if a rough ride when I reviewed his book, THIS AIN'T THE SUMMER OF LOVE, which I didn't agree with or enjoy nearly as much as his entry in this book. The second essay of the pair is a collaborative effort by Kei Kawano and Shuhei Hosokawa and what I think will become a definitive work and the title says it all; 'Thunder In The Far East: The Heavy Metal Industry in 1990's Japan. Compare this work to Cynthia Wong's aforementioned work about Metal in China in the 1990's (Part Two) for an interesting counter-point.
If you are still reading this award yourself a B+ and add +10 points to your Metal Cred rating! Lastly, there is a trio of essays about very small Metal scenes from around the world. These writings and studies are all very interesting and well done but perhaps have a limited appeal (unless you live in one of those places) because the focus is very narrow. Albert Bell examines the Maltese Metal scene. Rajko Mursic sheds light on the Slovenia Metal scene and Dan Bendrup talks about the Rapanui Metal scene. Rapanui is better known as Easter Island, you know... the place with the giant, half buried, face statues. They have a Metal scene! I think that truly demonstrates the global nature of Metal when a few dudes on a remote Polynesian island with a population of about 4000 can create a scene.
I believe the editors and authors can all be proud of this monumental work. As one of the crude, unsophisticated, mono-browed, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, unkempt, mono-syllabic, head-banging dudes who has dedicated his entire life to the Metal, my final analysis of this excellent collection of academic papers is this….