A Need for a Metal Music & Special Collection’s Library in NYC

MetalLibraryPic1

I’ve decided to add the task of starting a Metal Music Library to my list of life goals. As a side effect of all the research I’ve done, nothing feels more professionally fulfilling to me than merging my two loves at the moment – metal and librarianship. Living in New York, it just seems so senseless to me that there isn’t already a physical manifestation of some sort of metal library and collection here. I guess I’m finding it hard to stomach because New York’s history is rich with metal culture and ephemera. We are the birthplace of some of metal’s most notable bands like Anthrax, Dio, Kiss, Life of Agony, Manowar, Nuclear Assault, Tombs, Type O-, etc., Not to mention more extreme metal bands like Brutal Truth, Cannibal Corpse, Demolition Hammer, Immolation, Internal Bleeding, Malignancy. Mortician, Suffocation and on and on. Some of these have spearheaded entire sub-genres of metal.

When I worked at the Met, the Costume Institute Department had a number of music-related exhibitions like, Punk: Chaos to Culture, AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion, and Rock Style. I can easily see these kinds of exhibitions displaying the material culture of heavy metal, perhaps record collections, even the fashion, which believe it or not, there is. Just take a look at how the latest Kardarshian brood is co-opting our style.

Kendall-Jenner-loves-Slayer

Or just celebrities in general:

And I’m not posting these images to make metal-heads angry; on the contrary, it’s says a lot about mainstream culture appropriating and encouraging a heavy metal style, even if its a misinterpretation. Is heavy metal music becoming more acceptable, and if so, why? How are perceptions changing and what is the historical importance? Preserving aspects of “our” popular culture and subcultures are important for a variety of reasons.

Take a look at fellow WordPress blogger and musician/scholar Jason Netherton’s book, “Extremity Retained: Notes From the Death Metal Underground” in which he collects an oral history of death metal music from the musicians and people involved in the early scene. Additionally, he’s been scanning and making available early death metal zines from the 1980’s and on, in his blog Send Back My Stamps! – talk about preservation and accessibility!

As I research and work alongside my metal academic comrades, I see further evidence of the need for preserving metal music and it’s material culture. My colleague and fellow librarian, Brian Hickam, maintains a wonderful online bibliography for the International Society of Metal Music Studies (ISMMS) with categories for searching via books, articles, chapters, etc. It’s been very helpful in my own studies.

There are other institutions such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives, which, of course, collect under rock-and-roll, but also includes a variety of subgenres, metal being one of them.

Over in the UK, there is The Home of Metal, a project started as collaboration project with the Black Country Arts Partnership, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Art Gallery to celebrate and preserve the birthplace of heavy metal in the West Midlands.

Gary Shafer, the man behind Heavy Metal Museum, is also catering to heavy metal preservation and offering a platform for sharing and selling metal memorabilia. And if I couldn’t push the case for Metal Music studies and libraries being important, this article from the Wall Street Journal does the job for me.

In my own home library, here’s what I’ve been collecting and hoping to preserve for my daughter…(it’s very much a growing collection)

Home_HeavyMetalLibrary

Album Review: King Woman’s – Doubt (2015)

KingWoman1There’s something in the air… an enticing, atmospheric, world building that draws me like a moth to a flame. I’m listening to King Woman’s EP titled, Doubt. Led by vocalist Kristina Esfandiari, formerly of Whir, this drone-inspired album is the birth of a new project for her. Together with bandmates, Colin Gallagher on guitar, Joey Raygoza on drums (Skin Like Iron), and Sky Madden on bass (Chasms), they conjure a doomy and melancholy reverie that seduces the senses.

Having been described elsewhere as sounding like a combination of Black Sabbath meets Mazzy Star, I can’t help but agree and add my own two cents. Each song flows into the next smoothly, exuding a dark and introspective air. Ethereal feelings permeate throughout with Esfandiari’s voice conveying poignant lyrics of gloom and heartache. In an interview over at Rolling Stone, Esfandiari cites her use of psychedelics as a major factor towards bringing about her awareness of what was wrong with her religious upbringings. Doubt is essentially an album questioning her faith, yet it speaks to a deeper level of internal dissonance.

KingWoman3Musically, the leading bass-lines and guitar work offer a descent into a dark, bluesy, maelstrom. Although, I wouldn’t categorize it as metal, it does have the heavy elements that harken to early Sabbath. Fans of post-metal, shoegaze and doom will enjoy the pacing of this album.

EP Track Listing:

1. Wrong
2. King Of Swords
3. Burn
4. Candescent Soul

Here’s a Youtube clip of my favorite song from the Doubt album called King of Swords:

To buy the Album

King Woman on Facebook

@Daily News – Metaleros’ journey: Meet N.Y.’s thriving Latino metal scene

Over at the Daily News website, I found an interesting article written back in 2009 regarding Latino Metalheads from the NY metal scene. The post was entitled, Metaleros’ journey: Meet N.Y.’s thriving Latino metal scene and written by Daily News journalist, Ana Maria Toro. The article talks about demystifying the stereotype that all Latinos listen to, or play Merengue, Mariachi and Salsa music. I was glad to see some spotlight, however little, was given to this subject.

Toro goes on to interview several Latino musicians and promoters and sheds light on the popularity of Metal’s global reach south of the border, relaying how Metal music is pretty popular in many Latin counties.

In regards to what Latino musicians find appealing with metal, one interviewee cited how performing metal has been cathartic in relieving anger and marginalization through displaying musicianship and talent. Nothing cited was surprising to me, as the genre has often been described as transgressive.

Though it’s not an in-depth article of any kind, I thought it was interesting that this particular post was even written, considering there seems to be little, by way of online articles, about New York’s Hispanic and Latino metal scene. Not surprisingly, it’s even more difficult for me to find articles regarding the Hispanic/Latino women involved within the NY metal scene–by far the largest demographic present at shows outside of Caucasian women. This may of course be due to a language barrier while I’m researching. Perhaps there are Spanish forums with active female participates talking about metal; something for me to further investigate and bring to light.

Carnal

Carnal

Nahual2

Nahual

Metal Music Librarians

MetalMusicLibrariansAs a librarian and metalhead, I’ve often wondered what musical tastes my fellow colleagues had. Recently on the ALA Think Tank page on FB, this same question was asked by another librarian. What ensued in the comments was of course a natural variety of musical tastes, ranging from country, rock, punk, new wave, classical and metal music.

It made me research Facebook to see if there was a group or page for librarians who were also into metal music. To my surprise, nothing showed up.  This inspired me to create a Facebook page for my fellow metalhead librarians, hence the birth of Metal Music Librarians.

https://www.facebook.com/metalmusiclibrarians

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to folks that there are librarians interested in metal music. I’m sure amongst the music librarians association, there is a plethora of librarians listening to all kinds of things like shape note music or opera or djent!

As I’m constantly researching and writing about metal, I figured this would be another great avenue of disseminating and learning about all things metal. I mean, who better to get metal music information from, than a librarian???

 

Rejoice Metal Music Scholars \m/ We’ve got a Journal :)

Just passing the good news around (from the press release):mms

Metal Music Studies
Edited by Karl Spracklen
———————————————
Intellect is delighted to announce the development of Metal Music Studies. This journal fills a gap in the market – there is no other journal that has the sole focus of publishing research and theory that uses metal music as its subject matter. This is an anomaly, as the number of scholars working on metal music is large, and getting larger, as heavy metal becomes a legitimate focus of postgraduate study and scholarly activity. Metal music is a global phenomenon, with thriving scenes in every region. It is ubiquitous in popular culture and a form of music closely associated with modernity. Intellectual inquiry into metal music, then, is very relevant and timely – and this journal will be the only one of its kind, bringing together the metal music research that is currently otherwise published across a wide range of journals: in musicology, in cultural studies, in sociology and in other disciplines. As metal music studies grows as a truly interdisciplinary subject field, this journal will be in a position to nurture and develop the discipline.
International Society for Metal Music Studies 
The journal will be the official journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies (ISMMS). ISMMS is a learned society for any scholar interested in metal music, and for anyone involved in metal music who is serious about their involvement: musicians, promoters, journalists, dedicated fans. ISMMS is developing its structures over the next 12 months – watch this space!
Call for Papers
Metal Music Studies is explicitly multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary: embracing both musicological research and music theory about metal music, and social scientific and humanistic research about metal music as a genre. We aim to receive contributions from researchers and theorists aligned with the subject field of metal music studies, but also researchers and theorists from other disciplines. This journal will continue to draw on this inter-disciplinary approach, nurturing the development of an academic combination of metal musicology, metal cultures and metal studies. We would be happy to receive contributions from scholars in the parent disciplines of music theory, musicology, aesthetics, music technology, performance, art, policy studies, politics, cultural studies, economics, pedagogy, sociology, linguistics, psychology, history, regional studies, theology, philosophy, and natural sciences. The journal will accept and commission shorter pieces from those involved in the metal music industry: journalists, label owners and other industry insiders, managers, musicians and fans.
Information on deadlines, styles, word counts will appear on the MMS page on Intellect and in further announcements through 2013 and 2014.
For more information contact the Principal Editor: Karl Spracklen,K.Spracklen@leedsmet.ac.uk
Title Information
Full Title: Metal Music Studies
Editor: Karl Spracklen
ISBN: 20523998
Published by: Intellect | Publication: 2015
Territory: World | Readership: General / Academic