Death Metal and Music Criticism
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Death Metal and Music Criticism : Analysis at the Limits

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Death metal is one of popular music's most extreme variants, and is typically viewed as almost monolithically nihilistic, misogynistic, and reactionary. Michelle Phillipov's Death Metal and Music Criticism: Analysis at the Limits offers an account of listening pleasure on its own terms. Through an analysis of death metal's sonic and lyrical extremity, Phillipov shows how violence and aggression can be configured as sites for pleasure and play in death metal music, with little relation to the "real" lives of listeners. In some cases, gruesome lyrical themes and fractured song forms invite listeners to imagine new experiences of the body and of the self. In others, the speed and complexity of the music foster a "technical" or distanced appreciation akin to the viewing experiences of graphic horror film fans. These aspects of death metal listening are often neglected by scholarly accounts concerned with evaluating music as either 'progressive' or "reactionary." By contextualizing the discussion of death metal via substantial overviews of popular music studies as a field, Phillipov's Death Metal and Music Criticism highlights how the premium placed on political engagement in popular music studies not only circumscribes our understanding of the complexity and specificity of death metal, but of other musical styles as well. Exploring death metal at the limits of conventional music criticism helps not only to develop a more nuanced account of death metal listening-it also offers some important starting points for rethinking popular music scholarship as a whole.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 172 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 476.27g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0
  • 0739164597
  • 9780739164594
  • 1,205,843

Review quote

Phillipov suggests that we have become, through, our political interest, overly interested in hip-hop and electronic dance music- as we were with their music antecedent Punk- which dominate our reading lists and shape what it is acceptable to study both now and (her concern) in the future. We have done Metal an academic disservice by examining it only within the limiting parameters of nihilism...The content matter is helpful both for students learning how to utilize a literature review, and for those in the field who are less familiar with the strands of research which can helpfully unpack this area...As a book, this is a welcome and refreshing addition...both in terms of the writing style and the argument itself. Popular Music The overall argument of this slender volume is of interest to anybody working in heavy metal studies, and on popular music in general. Phillipov's focus on such formal properties nicely complements other research in the field, making of her volume a wonderful, if at times contentious, contribution to the larger debate. The Journal of Popular Culture This book offers an earnest approach to a subgenre of music that is rarely taken seriously, largely due to its irreverence for mainstream attention and its anti-social overtones. ... Michelle Phillipov expands the scope of musical criticism to encourage an appreciation of music's sonic pleasures, which will... interest critics and theorists. Media International Australia Death metal is a tricky genre to analyse, particularly given its often shocking lyrics and the refusal of many death metal fans and musicians to engage with the complex questions it raises. Michelle Phillipov challenges the reader to 'think with the conventions of the genre' rather than judge it according to external political values. In thinking with death metal, she demonstrates a critical dexterity that illuminates how death metal works better than any previous study does. The book makes a convincing argument that death metal's apparently troubling evasion of politics is in fact a key to understanding a form of musical pleasure based on a lack of identification with vocals and lyrical themes. Death Metal and Music Criticism not only makes a major contribution to the study of death and heavy metal, it also deserves to be read by anyone searching for a form of popular music criticism that is responsive to the particular pleasures that particular genres offer. -- Keith Kahn-Harris, Leo Baeck College Death Metal and Music Criticism fills an important gap in the literature on death metal. Phillipov provides a serious scholarly approach to a subject usually treated in a sensationalistic manner. -- Deena Weinstein, DePaul Universityshow more

About Michelle Phillipov

Michelle Phillipov is a lecturer in journalism, media, and communications at the University of Tasmania.show more

Table of contents

Introduction. A "Nihilistic Dreamboat to Negation?" Part 1. The Limits of Music Criticism Chapter 1. The Rise of Political Criticism Chapter 2. The Politics of Popular Music Studies: The Case of Punk Chapter 3. The Search for the "New Punk": Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music Chapter 4. A "Promise Unfulfilled": The Problem of Metal Part 2. The Pleasures of Death Metal Chapter 5. Death Metal and the Reorientation of Listening Chapter 6. The Pleasures of Horror Chapter 7. "Becoming Death": Pleasure and Play in Death Metal Chapter 8. "Bodies Prepared for Slaughter": Death Metal's "Technical" Appreciation Conclusion. Death Metal at the Limitsshow more

Rating details

11 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 9% (1)
4 64% (7)
3 27% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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