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Running with the Devil

Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music

Robert Walser

Publication Year: 2013

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book.

A musicologist and cultural critic as well as a professional musician, Robert Walser offers a comprehensive musical, social, and cultural analysis of heavy metal in Running with the Devil. Dismissed by critics and academics, condemned by parents and politicians, fervently embraced by legions of fans, heavy metal music attracts and embodies cultural conflicts that are central to our society. Walser explores how and why heavy metal works, both musically and socially, and at the same time uses metal to investigate contemporary formations of identity, community, gender, and power.

Ebook Edition Note: Ebook edition note: all photographs (16) have been redacted.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Music Culture


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I am grateful for the generosity of the nearly two hundred heavy metal fans from Minnesota, California, Michigan, and Illinois who discussed their music and their lives with me. Through interviews, casual conversations, and questionnaires, their assistance was invaluable in helping me to understand heavy metal. In contrast to the common stereotype of metal ...

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pp. ix-21

In the catacombs of a nineteenth-century warehouse, hulking in a run down riverfront district, passageways wind through rough stonework to connect small rooms, each fronted by a sturdy iron door. Behind these doors musicians compose and rehearse through all hours of the day and night. Wandering the crooked hallways, I hear waves of sound ...

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I. Metallurgies: Genre, History, and the Construction of Heavy Metal

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pp. 1-25

"Heavy metal," in each of its parts and as a compound, evoked power and potency. A "man of heavy metal" was powerful and daunting, and the OED vividly confirms a long-standing social conflation of power and patriarchal order. The long history of "heavy metal" in the English language resonates with modern...

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2. Beyond the Vocals: Toward the Analysis of Popular Musical Discourses

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pp. 26-55

When asked if he thought his mother would approve of his band's lyrics, guitarist Eddie Van Halen replied that he had no idea of what the lyrics were.2 Many people talk about the "meaning" of a song when what they are really discussing is only the song's lyrics. But verbal meanings are only a fraction of whatever it is that makes musicians and fans respond to and care about popular music. This chapter is a prelude to the musical aspects of the chapters that follow, where heavy metal songs will be analyzed within the context of...

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3. Eruptions: Heavy Metal Appropriations of Classical Virtuosity

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pp. 57-107

In the liner notes for his 1988 album Odyssey, heavy metal guitarist Y ngwie J. Malmsteen claimed a musical genealogy that confounds the stability of conventional categorizations of music into classical and popular spheres. In his list of acknowledgments, along with the usual cast of agents and producers, suppliers of musical equipment, and relatives and friends, Malmsteen...

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4. Forging Masculinity: Heavy Metal Sounds and Images of Gender

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pp. 108-136

Orpheus, the godlike musician of Greek mythology, was a natural figure for opera plots, which must reconcile heroics and song; his legendary rhetorical powers made him the most popular subject of early seventeenth- century dramatic music, with settings by Monteverdi, Peri, Caccini, and many other composers. But his story contains a built-in contradiction:...

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5. Can I Play with Madness? Mysticism, Horror and Postmodern Politics

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pp. 137-172

In his course on rhetoric, the Roman orator Quintilian included a fictitious legal exercise in the politics of music and madness. He presented the case of a musician who is accused of manslaughter because he played in the wrong musical mode during a sacrifice; by playing in the Phrygian mode, a piper allegedly caused the officiating priest to go mad and fling himself...

Appendix I: Heavy Metal Canons

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pp. 173-174

Appendix 2: Heavy Metal Questionnaire

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pp. 175-178


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pp. 179-204

Select Discography

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pp. 205-208

Select Bibliography

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pp. 209-214


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pp. 215-222

Photos [Not Included in Digital Version]

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pp. 128-259

E-ISBN-13: 9780819574213
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819552525

Page Count: 254
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Music Culture