L’Amour and the History of Metal

If you’ve been following my research all this time, you’ll know I’m a big scavenger of all things NY metal. A lot of my research hasn’t only been about the women in NY’s extreme metal scene but to the overall subculture in general.

As of late, I’ve been looking at venues and their histories involving where metal and underground shows were taking place back when extreme metal was growing. After all, the subculture had to be existing somewhere! One such place that was brought up to me was L’Amour.

Back in November 2014, I met a fellow presenter at the Metal and Cultural Impact (MACI) Conference who was from Jersey, presenting on Metal and the USSR. He told me about L’Amour, a venue in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge area that closed down in 2004. Sadly, it was a place I never got to venture to because I really had no connections to the metal scene in the boroughs during my teens. My relationship with metal only became serious in my mid-20’s, during college and beyond. And to add, in the 1970’s when they were having some of their awesome shows, I wasn’t even born…so yeah.

What’s great is that just like Metal Kingdom, the Queens venue that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, L’Amour also catered to others in an otherwise small and marginalized scene of underground music. It’s closing most likely led the same crowd to start hanging around at places like Metal Kingdom. It wasn’t until 2010-2011, that Saint Vitus and Acheron, both Brooklyn venues opened their doors.

From MetalSucks.net

From MetalSucks.net

These venues allowed for folks to find a place to connect and participate in something that larger society just did not get. Moreover, what made going to such a venue exciting and provocative was the surrounding air of the beginnings of the extreme metal scene. Early shows debuted what would later become a who’s who of metal royalty, including bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, King Diamond and Overkill.

I thought it was pretty neat to find wordpress blogger Maya over at VisuaLingual post a write up about her experience and time with L’Amour. She makes a beautiful case of women participating in the scene during the 90’s, when the number of women were even fewer than today.

Kreator at LAmour

Keator @ L’Amour, 1978–Image from Thrasheaters.com

And finally, my librarian self was happy to see a book in the works by resident L’Amour DJ, Alex Kayne called, “LAmour: Rock Capital Of Brooklyn” to be published in 2016. I’m sure it will stand to be a significant work of reference for other metal academics like myself.

L'Amour Book by Alex Kayne, Image from Amazon.com

L’Amour Book by Alex Kayne, Image from Amazon.com

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Review: Mortals show @ The Acheron, 7/18/14

mortals1

Mortals at the Acheron, 7/18/14

Finally got to see Mortals live! I discovered them through one of the participants in my research about women in extreme metal who recommended some local NYC bands with female members. Lucky for me that when I started researching Mortals, my delight was made sevenfold when I found out the entire trio were women who skillfully and creatively came together to play some of the best death metal I’ve heard.

They played last month at the Acheron to a full crowd as part of their record release party for their 2nd full-length EP entitled, Cursed to See the Future. Opening for them were the bands Mammals and Godmaker and though I usually write about opening acts, they really didn’t impress me much (apologies to Mammals & Godmaker fans!). Both bands did an adequate job of warming up the crowd, but you could tell what everyone was really waiting for; the proficient and technical abilities of Mortals’ pounding funerary dirges.

Mortals opened the evening with an almost art-school video viewing for the title track, “View from the Tower“.  Amidst good-hearted laughter and smiles,  everyone watched as the film unfolded; an homage to old school serial killer movies. As comical as the scenes were, it only added to the creative and satiric minds these musicians have.

They opened their set playing songs from the new EP as well as a song not yet released. Overall, drummer Caryn Havlik’s exuberant bats in the belfry playing never lost it’s pulsating preciseness. Add to that drumming, the vocal growls of bassist Lesly Wolf and the velocity of Elizabeth Cline’s speed guitar and you had a culmination of pummeling death driven songs. Heavy rifts and driving tempos abound as each song takes on it’s average five minutes or more spotlight. Wolf’s vocals give a fullness to each song, making one think of sludgy mire-full screaming.

mortals3

The fact that these Brooklyn Deathheads were women really didn’t detract or add to my overall impression of the what the crowd was perceiving. As an ethnographer, scoping crowds at each show I’ve attended has become part of my obersvation method and it was clear to see previous ideas by academics I’ve read, dismissed, at least in the particular show.

What’s often said about extreme metal music scenes is that there is almost always a lack of women in relation to men as well as a lack of diversity. That was not the case this evening! I witnessed a surprisingly diverse make-up of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, and Caucasians, with Caucasians counting as slightly higher in number overall. There was also an overwhelming even count between men and women at this show with the average age looking to be between mid-20’s to 40’s. Clothing was as expected, with men and women wearing either heavy or extreme metal t-shirts. There were also a handful of fans wearing your non-affiliated standard uniform of a black shirt with black jeans. Otherwise, the other remaining styles that could be identified were some punk and hipster looks–after-all, we were in Brooklyn!

In terms of my research, the results of the attendees of this show confirms my belief that due to the location (NY Tri-State area), we’re seeing more diversity with fans and musicians in the overall EMM scene.  The increased accessibility of EMM here in NY has made it a little bit more acceptable to women and it will be interesting to see if my survey findings as well as interviews corroborate that assessment.

The bigger question will be whether female participants in the EMM scene see their involvement in light of any kind of feminist agenda.

This Mortal Coil

Shakespearean skullI think I’ve titled this post appropriately since I can’t think of a better title to indicate the past week’s sufferings and troubles. What I’m getting at, is the frustration of process, whether that process be creative or practical.

I understand fully that the process of research and thesis writing is not an easy task. Last Thursday, it came to my mind (somehow I managed to completely forget) that for my thesis work, I will have to apply to the IRB (Institute Review Board) as I’ve had plans of conducting a survey or two as part of my thesis work. Any research involving human test subjects need to be approved by the IRB. The problem is how complicated the process of just filling out the right forms can be. See: (link IRB) and you’ll see what I mean.

I often wonder how scholars finalize and submit the questions that they plan on asking. What if your style of questioning is fluid and organic? Do you need to be distinct and have rather targeted questions listed?

The bright side is that the more I write and write and write, the more I’m starting to see where this actual thesis can go. I’m mostly writing thoughts and questions down every day. I know the pitfalls involved with actually writing parts of the paper without having my adviser being involved. I’ve heard many a graduate student complain about having written full on sections of their thesis only to get it rejected when reviewed with their advisers.
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