The importance of being ‘metal’: the metal music tabloid and youth identity construction

Brown, A.R (2008) The importance of being ‘metal’: the metal music tabloid and youth identity construction. In: Heavy Fundametalisms: Music, Metal and Politics - First Global Conference, 3 - 5 November 2008, Salzburg, Austria.


There has been very little work done on the popular music magazine and even less on the metal music magazine. Existing authoritative accounts of heavy metal as a cultural formation view media as a secondary and confirmatory source of youth identity (eg.Weinstein 2000: 193-7). This paper argues that media is much more important to metal culture than such classic studies allow, particularly in offering “clues” as to how to “live” metal as a youth identity. Given the almost complete lack of engagement with metal as a youth culture offered by most forms of youth communications (TV, Radio and the press) the role of branded media - such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Terrorizer in the UK and Decibel, Revolver and Metal Maniacs in the US - are essential in offering a mediated arena where a range of ways of “being metal” are communicated within the “circuit of culture” of the contemporary magazine format. Based on research into how youth adopt metal as an identity choice in the face of a range of conflicting and dominant narratives of “inclusion”, this paper argues that forms of metal media offer a mediating link to the “imagined communities” of metal fandom, essential to those wishing to anticipate acceptance within a group that they have little or no prior knowledge of. Examining a representative sample of metal magazines that are successful within the UK and US markets, the paper argues that the metal music magazine does not offer an essentialist identity to readers but rather a range of ways of accessing metal culture that are variously: commodified, narrativized and deliberative.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: heavy metal, metal media, commodification, narrativization, deliberation, “circuit of culture”, packaging, symbolic violence, rockism, subculture, reader-engagement, sell-out
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 17:16
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 15:44
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