symbol from BOC's 1st



[--1st half of essay only--]


On your feet! Or on your knees! Here they are, the amazing Blue Öyster Cult!
  --Blue Öyster Cult, On Your Feet or On Your Knees


The purpose of the Fascist formula, the ritual discipline, the uniforms, and the whole apparatus, which is at first sight irrational, is to allow mimetic behavior. The carefully thought out symbols (which are proper to every counterrevolutionary movement), the skulls and disguises, the barbaric drum beats, the monotonous repetition of words and gestures, are simply the organized imitation of magic practices. . . .
  --Horkheimer & Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment 184-85 [henceforth DE]


[Endnotes] [Works Cited] [Appendix]


  I. INTRODUCTION: The Technophobe Meets the Fuzz Box


Anyone . . . equating a popular song with modern art because of a few false notes squeaked by a clarinet  . . has already capitulated to barbarism.  (Adorno, "Perennial Fashion--Jazz" 205 ["PFJ"])


    When that modern apostle of high culture, Theodor Adorno, died in 1969, Western popular music was going through yet another technological mutation that Adorno might well have considered more "barbaric" than the jazz he so often condemned, an even longer, harder nail in the coffin of enlightened humanistic individualism. Rock guitarists had recently added the technique of screaming amplifier feedback to their repertoire, and the development of the distortion effect box (or "fuzz box") enabled any garage guitarist who could lay down fifty dollars for such a device to mechanically reproduce the dissonance of a cracked amplifier speaker. Such technical innovations were music to the ringing ears of blues-riff-based "power trios" like Cream and Grand Funk; and the acid-psychedelic hard rock of Jimi Hendrix not only punctured the blissful balloon of the hippie "Summer of Love," but sounded--to some--the amplified death knell of civilization itself.{1} And at last, Adorno's key epithets for earlier pop music, "mechanical soullessness" and "licentious decadence" ("On Jazz" 45 ["OJ"]), would seem to have become more prophetically true than ever.

     The codified synthesis of hard blues rock and psychedelic/acid rock into what would become known as "Heavy Metal" can be said to have begun in 1970, the year after Adorno's death{2}--as if deferentially awaiting his passing. Led Zeppelin had just released Led Zeppelin II [LZ2] in October, 1969, and Black Sabbath would cut its second album, Paranoid [Prnd], in September, 1970. These two albums provided the first two "anthems" of Heavy Metal, "Whole Lotta Love" and "Paranoid," respectively.

Paranoid album cover {"Paranoid" .wav clip (250K)}
{"Paranoid" .aiff clip (250K)}

Both tunes were impelled by a seemingly endless stream of "power chords"--that is, intervals of a perfect fifth played (with two easy fingers) on the guitar's lower registers,{3} voicings that were given a metallic-sounding distortion via an overdriven amp and/or fuzz box. Adorno would have likely identified such a techno-stylistic innovation as a mere technical variant masking the pop (now rock) genre's underlying "sameness" of form.{4} But, for better or worse, the visceral, driving "bottom" of these power chords became Heavy Metal's trademark, and the ease with which they could be played was no doubt instrumental in the new genre's popularity among guitar players with little or no formal training. (Thus, while much has been written on Heavy Metal's working-class audience,{5} the genre's importance as a means of musical access for economically disadvantaged players should not be underestimated.) In that same year, Deep Purple left most of their art-rock pretensions behind with the Metal-driven Deep Purple in Rock, and the Blue Öyster Cult would release its first, eponymous, album a little over a year later, in January of 1972.{6} And so a new techno-musical devolution, apparently, towards pure chaos and noise, was now well underway.

     Whether or not Adorno had heard any late-60's proto-Metal before his death, he "surely would have judged" both the Heavy Metal phenonemon "and its audience negatively" (Weinstein 94).{7} Indeed, the genre's very name would have been anathema to Adorno's relatively technophobic attitude.{8} But our great critic of culture had more than a few disciples to continue his elitist work--rock music critics themselves who, while heaping praise on such popular icons/iconoclasts as Dylan and the Beatles, found at least in Heavy Metal an easy target for their displaced scorn and spittle. Thus The Rolling Stone Record Guide, written by supposed spokespeople of the anti-establishment, would characterize this genre as "Heavily, sluggishly rhythmic rock of the late Sixties{9} and early Seventies that relied heavily on technology and very little on technique. . . . All [of these bands] distorted the blues through heavy amplification, screaming vocals and rhythms of absolutely no subtlety" (Marsh 612). Led Zeppelin, for instance, was "a band that, when not busy totally demolishing classic blues songs," appealed only to an audience "drugged to the point of senselessness," playing as they did a "spaced-out heavy rock [that] drove barely pubescent kids crazy" (217). Black Sabbath, moreover, was a group of "would-be Kings of Heavy Metal [who] are eternally foiled by their stupidity and intractibility" (36). And Deep Purple, whose earlier, more "artsy" albums had been applauded by such critics, had their first Metal venture described as a "hodgepodge of power chords and psychedelic noodling" (98)--as if the phrase "power chord" itself were an epithet of musical inanity and incompetence.

     The Blue Öyster Cult, however, was spared much of these critics' disdain. This was no doubt due in part to the fact that their record sales (until "Don't Fear the Reaper"){10} didn't merit as much attention--and ergo, earnest critique. But the greater factor was their untoward combination of straightforward heavy riffs and esoteric, allusive, and parodic lyrics, which led the semi-elitist rock-critic establishment to give them at least faint praise as a "thinking-man's Metal," a band with "arcane lyrics" and slick metallic instrumentalism that was "nothing short of sexual." The group was damned instead for its stage persona as "a neo-fascist, vampirish New York band that would sooner suck your blood than take your money" (39). But while the "neo-fascist" appellation was perhaps merited by management gimicks that begged for such an interpretation, such a reading still falls upon the blunt-sabre fact that this was, after all, a Jewish band whose forte, moreover, was a quite sardonic satire. Translation: the fascist persona was an ironic ruse, the implications of which will be developed later in this essay.

     I would thus deem this tetrad of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and the Blue Öyster Cult as the "Pioneers" of Metal, the originators of a genre not yet codified. Black Sabbath, one may conclude in retrospect, was the most prototypical of these early Metal bands, given its lyrics of alienation and apocalypse,{11} and its "plodding" musical style, the formulaic chord progressions of which were most easily appropriated by the Metal bands of the later '70's, and the Speed, Thrash, and Death Metal bands of the 80's. Deep Purple never completely shed its art-rock roots, and the intrusive organ of Jon Lord--with his propensity for long "baroque" organ solos--never became a staple of the mainstream Heavy Metal sound. Led Zeppelin continued to combine its Metal offerings with late-60's-ish hard-blues-rock numbers and the eclectic musical interests of guitarist Jimmy Page, whose dabblings in esoteric Oriental sounds and jazz harmonies of an earlier era made every Led Zep album a multi-genric menu for the aural palate. BÖC--the first American band to mount a major challenge to the aforementioned British bands' ascendency in this new field--began as an almost too-self-conscious, often tongue-in-cheek, "revisionism" of Black Sabbath's metallic gothicism, an ironic ambivalence towards the new genre that ultimately militated against its admission into the inner sanctums of the "Headbanger's Hall of Fame," if you will: and yet this last band's very marginality in terms of the genre as a whole renders it perhaps the most interesting of the four in terms of "Cultural Studies."

     The early-to-mid-seventies' output of these four bands, then, will be the focus of this essay. If the late sixties' Woodstock revolution of folk-rock, hard rock, country-rock, etc., was a wondrous time of pluralism in popular music, the latter half of the seventies would instead re-reify a "standardization" of pop music--in the form of Disco--that would allow any disciple of Adorno to stand up, point a high-aesthetic finger, and say, "I told you so." The genre of Heavy Metal, too, continuing to this day, became ultimately epigonic: AC/DC would render the leadenly mechanical riffs of Black Sabbath as an even more simplistic and repetitive tonic dreariness; and Metallica could play their sometimes BÖC-esque tunes with twice the speed, perhaps, but with half the lyrical sophistication. The Heavy Metal Zeitgeist of the early seventies, then, was a--minor, if you will--"golden age,"{12} a crossroads of (partial) codification and creativity on the part of a hard techno-rock style that would soon both devolve into endless imitation and also find itself in competition with a new style of dance music (i.e., Disco) that would fulfill Adorno's worst nightmares of commercial standardization.

     However, Metal has continued to be either "ignored or reviled" by both academic cultural critics and so-called rock critics (Walser x, 20). Thus I would insist upon giving this particular epoch-and-genre its due, both via an Adorno-esque critique and, if possible, a post-Adorno appreciation, following the lead of those critics who have tried to transcend the Frankfurt School's "fixation on high culture" and yet maintained crucial "critical aspects" of its approach (Hohendahl 123). Bernard Gendron has attempted one such venture in his study of a late-50's minor doo-wop band, the Cadillacs, beginning with the proposition that, "if Adorno's critique works against Tin Pan Alley, it also succeeds against rock 'n' roll," and concluding that Adorno's attention to both "political economy and semiotics," especially, can still "be of service" (19, 34; see also Paddison 82, 97, 104).

     Gendron develops the validity of Adorno's critiques in terms of early rock 'n' roll, as I will in terms of Heavy Metal. But our doo-wop critic also points to the shortcomings of Adorno's views and explores the possibilities of popular music's ability to transcend standardization and to be a positive agent towards social subversion. This, too, will be the ultimate goal of this essay, in terms of Heavy Metal. Moreover, my "defense" of Heavy Metal will not only incorporate such pro-popular-cultural studies as Gendron's, but will also essay a synthesis of Kristeva's seminal postulation of the "semiotic" and Bakhtin's notion of "carnival" as support for the possibility of Heavy Metal's own ultimate pro-"masses--and pro-body--questioning of the system. And at last--forgiving Adorno's inability to appreciate the nuances of a music made by and for the "people"--I would still hope to do justice to Adorno's own ultimately well-intended concerns for the "victim[s] of the collective" ("OJ" 64), be they jazz "jitter-bugs" coerced by a clarinet ("PFJ" 206) or Heavy Metal headbangers infatuated by a fuzz box and a Fender amp.




Heavy Metal as Techno-Standardization and Barbaric Ritual

A. "Tricks, Formulas, and Clichés": Metal as Standardization

What enthusiastically stunted innocence sees as the jungle is actually factory-made through and through. . . ."   (Adorno, "PFJ" 202)


     Adorno's critiques of popular music in general have, no doubt, much validity when applied to the genre of Heavy Metal, especially in terms of standardization and mythologization. Metal, indeed, might be viewed as the epitome of popular music's two most extreme dangers: a dehumanizing, de-individualizing techno-mechanization; and a mystifying, irrationalist "retreat" (however illusory) back to humankind's primordial "rhythmic" origins--to speak diachronically about a tension between myth and reason that Horkheimer and Adorno often deal with in a more synchronic fashion. And yet, with the hegemonic ascendancy of industrial capitalism, the twentieth century seems to represent a new "culture-shock" turn-for-the-worse in Adorno's exposition of his ongoing rational/mythic dialectic. When the rationalist in Adorno must speak of a century cursed by Hitler and Auschwitz, it is only understandable that The Dialectic of Enlightenment has, at these points, a very "dystopian" feel to it (Hohendahl 126), and that Adorno's intellectual angst and pessimism are readily transferred from the jackboot to the jitterbugger, from the martial frenzy of the Fascist collective to the fanaticism of the pop-music audience.

     And so popular music, its creators, and its audience have all been "marching" to the same "drummer," as it were, a drum-corps regiment of "standardization, commercialization, and rigidification" ("PFJ" 200).{13} Adorno's critique of pop music and culture, one must immediately note, has profound psycho-social ramifications: the conformist works of such a "culture industry" appeal to, and reflect, the absence or opposite of truly enlightened "consciousness" ("The Culture Industry Reconsidered" 133 ["CIR"]); instead, they are in part the products a botched "enlightenment" whose "progressive domination of nature" has gone awry through industrial technology. This ironically blind technological turn of enlightenment, moreover, ultimately creates "mass deception and is turned into a means of fettering consciousness" (135): thus popular culture is a crucial symptom, and also partial determinant, of a "coercive . . . society"--and subject--at last "alienated from itself" (DE 121).

     Oddly--if Heavy Metal is indeed another symptom of such technological standardization--the theme of alienation by technology happens to be a common theme in the lyrics of Black Sabbath and the Blue Öyster Cult. Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" (Prnd), for instance, an ostensibly stock remake of many a Sci-Fi-horror monster of pop culture, can be read as a protesting emblem for the individual automatized and dehumanized by a technological civilization. Indeed, the title character is presented much like Adorno's typical pop-music audience-victim: "Has he lost his mind? / Can he see or is he blind?" And again: "Is he alive or dead? Has he thoughts within his head?" In the tune's Frankenstein/Godzilla-like plot, "Iron Man" has been "turned to steel / In the great magnetic field," and by song's end, he has returned "from the grave" to seek "his revenge" on an uncaring society. One might read the "great magnetic field" as the forces of social coercion (including the techno-"machine" thereof, above all), and Iron Man's turn towards vengeance as the individual's rebellion against that systematic coercion. A fine metaphorical corroboration of Adorno's thought, perhaps, if one allows for the possibility of "individual" rebellion in such "standardized" lyrical fare. But such possibilities, including a reading that the lyric is (at least polysemically speaking) a meta-lyric self-critically representing the plight of the rock-era individual makes Adorno's own critique problematic, or at least susceptible to a further "dialectical" interpretation. (But I anticipate the second half of my essay.)

     At last--to return to the strengths of Adorno's critique--such positive readings may be illusory. Yes, one is inevitably tempted towards the common critical "opinion that rock music has been for several decades a viable expression of dissent for an array of discontented groups" and "an important outlet for working class unhappiness at least since the 1950s" (Koval 2). But at last such "dissent" may actual be "pseudo-individual" gestures that really only serve to keep the masses in step. Moreover, even if such dissent is momentarily disruptive, it "can be negated by . . . constant repetition" (2), and diffused by the repetition of the "same ideas and themes" (3). In other words, the effect of, say, Black Sabbath's dire images of techno-chaos and apocalypse was perhaps only a momentary subversive blip on the pop-aesthetic radar, if even a blip at all. Like Adorno's beloved serialism--now just a now "period 'effect'" that has been "made so familiar" that it "no longer shocks" (Baugh 72, 71)--the early Metal anthems have now become the pablum of TV commercials and other mass medial "revisionism": the fact that The Rush Limbaugh Show can casually play Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" as "bumper" music attests to pop culture's ability to continually make the "new" . . . "old."{14}

     More likely, in Adorno's view, is that such wanna-be-disruptive "blips" in rock music to this day are merely further spasms of a continued standardization of "ossified" musical forms (DE 134). Koval's survey of the Billboard charts from 1958 to 1982, indeed, seems to support an argument for an even increasing standardization, as fewer hit songs (which thus stayed on the charts longer) and fewer new artists breaking into the chart resulted in a "narrower range of music" and a subsequent lessening of pop music's "impact" for dissent, "diluted" as it has become "through constant repetition" (14). The standardization of the "culture industry" has created in recent years, then, even "less variety in popular music, thus confirming the prediction" of The Dialectics of Enlightenment (16).{15} Gendron's Adorno-esque conclusion regarding recent rock styles is no more optimistic: "The rock 'n' roll revolution may have mercifully put Tin Pan Alley out of its misery [!], but it did not bring to an end the industrial standardization of music"; instead, what held "true for doo-wop also holds true for . . . rockabilly, heavy metal, funk, etc.," and even "the Sex Pistols" (24, 25).

     But all this talk about standardization needs substantiation via specific references to Metal's complicity therein. To do so, I would invoke Adorno's own sub-points regarding the culture industry's standardization--first, to the "interchangeability of parts" that makes two popular songs as fundamentally identical as two mass-produced "Yale locks[!]" (DE 154). Thus the music industry employs the same old "tricks, formulas, and clichés" combined in an "assembly-line procedure" ("PFJ" 201; see also DE 163).{16} Looking at the music itself, then, Heavy Metal certainly fits Adorno's assertion that pop music is based on the "most primitive harmonic facts" ("OPM" 18). Metal's power-chord compositions almost invariably employ such "chords" in an Aeolian minor modality (I3, II3, bIII3, IV3, V3, bVI3, bVII3), with the occasional bV3 (from the "blues" scale) and bII3 (from the Phrygian mode).{17} Two- or three-chord harmonic sequences from this scale quickly became the genre's "interchangeable-parts" formulae: bVII3-I3 ("Whole Lotta Love [LZ2], "War Pigs" [Sabbath: Prnd], "Supernaut" [Sabbath: Volume 4 (Vol4)], "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll" [Blue Öyster Cult (BÖC)],etc.); I3-bVII3-bVI3 ("Stairway to Heaven" [LZ4], "Children of the Grave" [Sabbath: Vol4], "Wings Wetted Down" [BÖC: Tyranny and Mutation (T&M)], "Don't Fear the Reaper" [BÖC: AoF], ad nauseam], I3-bIII3-IV3 ("Paranoid" [Prnd], "Sweet Leaf" [Sabbath: Master of Reality [MstR], "Smoke on the Water" [Deep Purple: MHd], "Career of Evil" [BÖC: Secret Treaties (SecT)], etc.); I3-bIII3-bVII3 ("Paranoid" [Prnd], "Immigrant Song" [LZ3], "Smooth Dancer" [Deep Purple: Who Do We Think We Are!], "The Red and the Black" [BÖC: T&M], etc.); I3-bVII3-IV3 ("Communication Breakdown" [LZI], "Living Loving Maid" [LZ2], "Strange Kind of Woman" and "No One Came" [Deep Purple: Fireball], "E.T.I." [BÖC: AoF], etc., etc.). Of course, such basic harmonic "building blocks" were combined, reversed, and varied via duration and rhythm to create a pseudo-novelty, as it were, to speak à la Adorno. This can be quickly documented through two of the most famous early Heavy Metal riffs (the Arabic numerals represent the--inevitable--4/4 beat; for easier formatting, the "3" symbols have been omitted):

         "Smoke on the Water" (Deep Purple, MHd):

I bIII IV   I   bIII   bV IV   I bIII IV   bIII   I      

         "Iron Man" (Black Sabbath, Prnd):

 1   2   3 

Both the lead vocalist's melodies and the lead guitarist's solos that hovered above such power-chord obbligatos were usually based upon the closely akin pentatonic-blues-minor scale (I, bIII, IV, V, bVII), with a characteristic use of the "bluesy" bV as a passing tone.

     Aside from this harmonic formulaicism, the songs of the early Metal era usually adopted the 60's psychedelic-rock convention of (at least one!) extended lead guitar solo--in part, one might presume, to make up for a lyric that was often no more than two or three verses, with or without a chorus. And, to break up the monotony of nothing-but-power-chords-poundin'-in-yer-head, all four of these bands soon saw fit to put one or two of what might be called "metal-ballads" on each of their albums--often somewhere towards the end of side two! (Talk about your standardization.) Black Sabbath, especially, made a habit of placing one "soft," often acoustic, sometimes even instrumental, number by their guitarist Tony Iommi on each of their albums, e.g., "Planet Caravan" on Paranoid, "Solitude" on Master of Reality, "Laguna Sunrise" on Volume 4, "Fluff"(!) on Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath (SBS) . . . you get the idea. However, the "metal-ballad" received its full development by Led Zep and BÖC, who made such "ballads" truly Metal by adding to a relatively mellow and melodic verse (often supported by acoustic-guitar arpeggios) a very hard, driving "Metal" section as chorus, coda, or interlude, complete with fuzz guitars, screaming vocals, and virtuosic lead guitar solos. Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" (LZ4) is the most famous example of this; Zep's "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Houses of the Holy) and BÖC's "Astronomy" (T&M) and "Don't Fear the Reaper" (AoF) are other notable instances.

     The standardization of the culture industry also produces, according to Adorno, a false- or "pseudo-individualization" ("PFJ" 203; see also "OPM" 24-26): "In the culture industry the individual is an illusion" (DE 154), an illusion that "itself serves to reinforce ideology," not only via the pseudo-creative-artist "star system" on the production side ("CIR" 130), but through a mystification of the pop-music masses who, the more they succumb to such illusory appeals, the more they lose themselves in the collective. At last, neither performers nor audience are any longer individuals, but "merely centers where . . . general tendencies meet" (DE 155). (Even the genre "labelling" applied by record companies--e.g., "Heavy Metal"--creates "trade-marks of identification" ["OPM" 26], another "center" where producer and consumer can meet in commercialized comfort.) The audience component in this standardization will be more completely addressed below, but one might note here Adorno's observation, for instance, regarding the inanity of pseudo-individualist lyrics like "'Especially for you'" (Quasi 44-45)--for me, the lovelorn slob sittin' in the third row?!--and the subsequent irony of the copyright notice attached to such lyrics ("OPM" 36)!

     On the performance side, the well-known "rock star" persona was astutely anticipated by Adorno in important ways, in his various comments on movie idols and jazz crooners, members of that "cult of celebrities," each of whom is merely "a pattern round which the world-embracing garment is cut" (DE 236). In one sense, this star-system "industry" performs an inauthentic psychotherapy, its "committees and stars" serving "as the ego and super-ego" for the libido of "the masses," who thus "have lost the last semblance of personality" (203). But on the other hand, the star system itself reveals a regressive immaturity, as "glamor leads to child-behavior," and the music itself is really "a musical children's language" ("OPM" 30). The unsympathetic observer of a Heavy Metal band's "antics" on stage might be easily moved to agree with Adorno's general portrayal here, and perhaps wonder less why those on "center stage" of such a system might be drawn to substance abuse and suicide.

     These "star performers," too, pathetically continue to repeat the "illusory" jargon of creativity and aesthetics that has survived from Romanticism (DE 128): witness any interview of a contemporary recording artist as corroboration of this! Metal bands, in particular, have prided themselves on writing their own material, to "maintain" an "ideology of the autonomous and authentic artist" (Weinstein 62)--to which use of the words "autonomous" and "artist" Adorno would surely cringe. Adorno would have scorned, too, these bands' tendency to list the band in toto as composer (especially Black Sabbath and Deep Purple), a collaboration that tended to "blur individual authorship" (Weinstein 80). And the fact that these bands had the gall to both write and perform their own songs "runs against the division of labor" (81) that Adorno's elitism assumed to be crucial between composer-genius and orchestral musician.

     Next to the power chord, the second main characteristic of Metal is the loud, often long, often high-pitched, lead guitar solo (see Weinstein 23-24, 216). The resulting "cult of the lead guitarist" (Straw 369; see also Weinstein 122, 220) might be viewed as a culture-industry bastardization of Adorno's conception of the "artist-hero." Tom's SG {Graphic: .gif of me thinkin' I'm BÖC's lead guitarist} In terms of sheer technology, just as Adorno saw the progression from telephone to the radio as a debit for human individualism (DE 121-22), so, too, the replacement of the acoustic with the electric guitar, the Adorno-ite might argue, may have resulted in a similar loss for individual expression. (That the foremost Metal guitarists often relied on a limited choice of guitars, Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters, also tended to standardize this music's timbre.){18} Furthermore, while Adorno's whole spiel on earlier jazz improvisations as "mere frills" that were "planned out in advance" ("PFJ" 201; see also "OPM" 25, "OJ" 53) is a very questionable tack, Heavy metal solos almost always did reflect such planning. I would attribute this to a dominance by the technological commecialization of the recording itself unheard of in Adorno's day: the 70's Metal audience "knew" the lead solo, above all, via its recorded version; club bands duplicated said solo, further familiarizing it in the audience's aural memory; finally, the original guitarists themselves thus felt incredible pressure to try to reproduce the same licks from a solo that may have originally been fairly impromptu. (Thus Weinstein estimates that perhaps "70 percent of the time rock bands attempt to re-create their records on stage" [82].) A recent interview of the Doors' guitarist, Robbie Krieger, exemplifies this drive towards a standardization between recorded and live versions in an almost laughable fashion: speaking of his recorded solo on "When the Music's Over," he laments, "Of course, it was a little frustrating trying to duplicate that solo onstage. . . . Up until a couple of years ago, I really wasn't a good enough musician to copy that solo. . . . It took me years of practicing to be able to play my own solo." Apparently the original was so alien to his later musical acumen because it had been recorded under the influence of "some good cannabis" (Epstein 60, 62)!

     A final aspect of Adorno's general notion of standardization might be termed the "illusory new," in which "new effects" in popular music "must conform to the old pattern" (DE 128).{19} A "system" that is "constantly sanctioning the demand for rubbish"[!], a rubbish of "constant sameness" that is really the "exclusion of the new" (165), must disguise this sameness before the masses. Adorno points here to the sheer ephemerality of "hit" pop songs--similar to "'fads'"--whose so-called creative "deviations" from a pop-genric standards are really "just as standardized as the standards" ("PFJ" 204). Adorno's favorite example from the jazz era (along with "fake" improvisation) is syncopation, a false-new "stumbling" that still invokes the "rule" (DE 153).{20} For Metal, the predominant sameness (along with the various stylistic clichés mentioned above) has to be the power chord itself--including its harmonic formulae, its sheer volume, and the very fuzz-box technology used to achieve its characteristic sonic timbre. It is thus the "effect [as in "effect box"!], the obvious touch, and the technical detail" that, in pop music, lords above the formal concerns of "the work itself" (DE 125).

     Apparently sickened by the stylistic excesses of late Romantic classical music, Adorno identifies this "weakening of . . . totality in favor of vivid details" as a typically Romantic gesture ("MLC" 407), a difficult pill to swallow whole unless one denies Romanticism's expressionism aesthetic the ability to create an intuitive organic form of its own. (This ability, by the way, Adorno apparently grants to Shönberg's Expressionist school: but Adorno's general anti-Romantic tendencies will become clearer when we get to Metal vis-à-vis "myth.") But to consider Romanticism and contemporary popular music from a more sociological angle for now, one might look at Metal's immediate roots, the '60's hippie "revolution"--both in music and general lifestyle--and wonder, Adorno-like, whether this, too, was actually a false-new regurgitation of the "old"? In other words, rather than view it as a positive revolt or rebirth of some neo-Romanticism impulse, with protest poetry and "flower power," et al., one might consider it instead as yet another "pop-mass" gesture of false generational insurrection, in which the masses were still actually kept in line by neo-Romantic drivel, by an eternal, irrational "cult of feeling" (DE 91) that keeps the "natives" dancing around the "campfire" of the State. Is Metal itself, then, just another, more-of-the-same, testosterone-release for young males repeating the endless cycle of illusory rebellion against their elders?

     But I jump ahead of myself. To return to the illusory-new emphasis on "technique" over "content," we have seen already that Adorno blames this, in part, on technology itself (136). Critiquing the twentieth-century avant-garde "electronic music" of Stockhauser and his ilk, Adorno complains that, since "electronics . . . developed as a technology . . . external to music," it really "has no internal relationship with the immanent laws of music" (Quasi 266; see also ATh 33), and so such "machine music" is at last a "renunciation of one's own human feelings and . . . a fetishism of the machine" ("OPM" 41). By implication, then, even if a Heavy Metal lyric rebels against the "mechanical soullessness" of the age ("OJ" 45), its accompanying music still transmits that very "mechanical soullessness," creating (or at least reflecting) a mass audience of "Iron Men" neither "alive or dead," but rather mindless-zombie victims of the "machine." For those tempted to see something positive in the irony and contradictions inherent in such an art, one should note that Adorno, too, briefly considers the possible merit of a music that consciously evokes--through mechanization--"the evils of mechanization, the destruction of personality and dehumanization" (Quasi 266). However, these vapours quickly pass, and finally, conflating electronic with aleatory or "chance" music, Adorno has no room for a music whose "material laws . . . seem to preclude the subjective intervention of the composer" (268). To pass now from standardization to mythologization, if such "material laws" rendered Metal a mechanized Panzer of a genre, Metal's allegiance to the mechanisms of the "spirit" may have also made it a fit tool towards a mystifying coercion of the masses.

B. "Stairways to Heaven": Metal as Mythologization

Gounod's Ave Maria: an Englishman has proposed this formula for music hall: Put three half-naked girls on a revolving stage. Then play the organ. . . . Thus saccharined religion becomes the bourgeois cloak for a tolerated pornography.   (Adorno, Quasi 37)

     However, this last critique regarding a lack of composer intervention certainly doesn't apply to the "home-spun" efforts of Metal bands (who probably couldn't even spell "aleatory"). But then, nor does Adorno's relief that, at least "there is no call to fall into ecstasy over the products of [avant-garde] electronic music like jazz fans" (267). In fact, the "ecstatic" element of Heavy Metal is perhaps the element that Adorno would most condemn--and immediately relate to both technology and to myth. For it is the "radical industrialization of art" that at last "instills into art an archaic element that compromises it" (ATh 217): and this is no "progress" (218)! There seems to be no middle ground in Adorno for a balanced appreciation of archaicism or "myth," as there is no middle ground for his views on jazz: the mass-based irrationalism of both were too easily implicated with Adorno's immediate concerns regarding fascism. Thus he had little respect for Stravinsky's "consciously induced primitivism" ("MLC" 408) or jazz's "archaic stance," which, in his view, was actually "as modern as the 'primitives' who fabricate it" ("OJ" 53). Even jazz's "mythic mystification of the black man" (58) is the product of a pseudo-archaicism that is at last "not a longed-for freedom, but rather a regression" (54).

     Adorno's various statements on "myth" in general reveal a rationalism steeped in the values of the (historical) Enlightenment. He has no time for "those who prate about the New Mythos and the irrational powers of community" ("OPM" 48; see also Quasi 51), or for contemporary non-Christian "obscurantist systems"--including many "sects" now associated with the New Age movement--that "do just what the satanic myth of official religion did for men in the Middle Ages" (DE 196). What religion and myth have always done, obviously, is deceive, a "trickery" that "elevates the frail individual to the status of a vehicle of divine substance" (51); and contemporary appeals or attempts to do the same through art are but "afterimage[s] of magic as consolation for disenchantment" (ATh 18).

     Adorno's "Theses Against Occultism" ("TAO") is especially revealing of the theoretical underpinnings of his revulsion. His particular targets here are the worst "crystal-ball" sorts of charlatan occultism, and yet his arguments intimate his views, I think, on human irrational impulses in general. Occultism is, of course, "a symptom of the regression in consciousness" (128) and the "metaphysic of dunces[!]" (130); au fond, like all spirituality (one would presume), it entails a fundamental confusion--a false merger--of subject and object, performing as it does a blithely blind subjectivization of objective reality (129, 132). (To accept Adorno's critique, however, one must accept that there is a dualistic distinction between "subject" and "object," and that there is an "objective," presumably material, reality independent of the "subject." But I wander perhaps towards some mystical monism for which Adorno would, no doubt, beat me with a stick.)

     My recent digressions into Romanticism, religion, and the "occult" have a direct relation to Adorno's conception of the culture industry, which itself includes the false "individualistic residues" and "sentimentality" of "an already rationalized and adapted romanticism" ("CIR" 131). Sympathetic discussions of its artifacts, too, are inevitably couched in "depraved magical formulations taken from the vocabulary of" Romantic "art," with all its "mysterious forces," all its "irrational justifications" ("OJ" 51).{21} "[H]it songs" themselves "unceasingly celebrate 'reverie' & 'rhapsody,'" and their popularity is based at last on "the magic of the unintelligible" (DE 166). From magic and irrationalism, it's not too far down a slippery slope to an out-and-out barbaric ritual, and to hear in the loud, repetitive, power-chord impulses of Heavy Metal the very "beat of cudgel and whip which resounds in every barbaric drum and every monotonous ritual" (21; see also 185).{22} The "barbaric" rhythm per se of Metal will be discussed below, in relation to fascism; but first, Heavy Metal's close association with the "occult" is a matter of no small interest.

     If "religious terminology is replete in heavy metal" (Weinstein 39)--in lyrics, logos, album cover art, even in concert behavior{23}--the Metal "religion" is certainly an eclectic one, encompassing supernatural, gothic, Satanic, and other mythic, even "obscurantist," images and themes that would make the most ambitiously syncretistic California sect run crying for their Mother Ship. As initial support for Metals' religiosity, one need only note, for starters, some of these bands' very names--Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult--their album titles--Master of Reality, Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, Houses of the Holy, On Your Feet or On Your Knees (this last complete with "haunted church" and mock-Bible album art)--and a few indicative song titles: "The Wizard" (BlkS), "After Forever" and "Lord of this World" (MstR), "Sabbra Cadabra" (SBS), "Redeemed" (BÖC), and "Stairway to Heaven" (LZ4).

     This last recording, Led Zeppelin IV, is noteworthy not only for the Tarot symbolism and esoteric "ZOSO" symbols on its album art, Led Zep IV album cover but for the fact that, by this time, Led Zeppelin was mixing its blues-lyric double-entendres with lyrics filled with references to Norse mythology (e.g., "Immigrant Song"; "The Battle of Evermore" [LZ4]; "No Quarter" [Houses of the Holy]),{24} and with lyrics so blatantly mystical and messianistic{25} that one might read them as bad parodies of P.B. Shelley:

And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter.
  ("Stairway to Heaven")

The piper's "reason" is apparently something quite different than the reason of Western Enlightenment. (As the lyric states earlier, "you know sometimes words have two meanings"!) The piper's "tune" points rather to some Parmenidean future "When all are one and one is all," when individuality itself will presumably be done away with. Walser wants to read "Stairway to Heaven" as a "very open text," the "enigmatic" words of which "invite endless interpretation" (158-159). Uh . . . well--lacking the time, space, and Foucaultian dedication for such a task, I'll finish with Led Zep for now by merely noting guitarist Jimmy Page's longtime fascination with the occultist Aleister Crowley--and the rumor that Led Zep "'sold their souls' to Satan in exchange for power, fame, wealth, etc." (De Feo). Laughable as such a rumor is, its very existence is significant, revealing a desire on the part of the band's fans to be mystified. (And oh, yes, I have tried playing "Stairway to Heaven" backwards, in search of Satanic messages: but all I did was ruin my turntable's drive belt and stylus.)

     More thoroughly associated with the occult, the "gothic,"{26} and, especially, Satanism is Black Sabbath, whose first song ("Black Sabbath") on its first album (Black Sabbath!) immediately speaks of that King of Darkness:

Big black shape with eyes of fire,
Telling people their desire.
Satan's sitting there--he's smiling--
Watches those flames get higher and higher.
Oh, no, no, please, God help me!

But the song is obviously a warning to beware of this figure, not some "evil" embracing of the type of Satanism Tipper Gore has in mind. Indeed, Sabbath's (usual) lyricist, Ozzy Osbourne, rather wanders from one cult/sect/myth to another in his lyrical output, occasionally scaring the hell out of himself (and liking it) on his way. {Correction [5/03]: A reader, Tom Recchia, has reminded me that the bassist, Geezer Butler, was the "main lyricist" of Black Sabbath, not Ozzy.} Thus, while "N.I.B." (BlkS) can end with the provocative line, "My name is Lucifer, please take my hand," most of the lyrics of Master of Reality, on the other hand, might best be deemed "Jesus-Freak" lyrics, warning against Satan as "Lord of this World," and didactically brow-beating non-believers as follows:

When you think about death, do you lose your breathe or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope, do you think he's a fool?[!]
Well, I have seen the truth, well, I have seen the light and I've changed
      my ways--
I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of my days.
  ("After Forever")
And while some of Ozzy's lyrics invoke a pagan magic, as in "The Wizard" (BlkS) or a more undifferentiated "cosmic" mythos, as in "Supernaut" (Vol4) ("I wanna reach out and touch the sky-- / I wanna touch the sun but I don't need to die)," Black Sabbath's lyrics in general, despite the band's reputation, are seldom anything to boil a goat over. On the contrary, "Ozzy Osbourne's lyrics tend to be quite moralistic" (Walser 147).{27} My Adorno-esque point (which I've ignored too long, obviously) is that all of Metal's religious gestures, be they pagan or Christian, are yet implicated in a "mythologization": that some of the genre's characteristic images and symbols at least seem to rebel against the "Father" of the elder generation's religion simply makes them all the more appealing to a mass youth looking "to be carried away by anything at all," by anything that "compensates for their impoverished and barren existence" (Adorno, "PFJ" 206).

     One reference source characterizes the region inhabited by Black Sabbath's "first two albums" as a "quasi-black-magic, occult zone" (Jasper et al. 39); another claims for the band an "obsession with occult, sword-and-sorcery imagery later adopted by BLUE OYSTER CULT" (Clarke 532). One wonders whether these writers are speaking from simple hearsay or expressing their own peremptory judgment based upon a limited exposure to the music. Ozzy's continued love-hate relationship with Christianity is certainly more characteristic than the few Sabbath tunes of this period that might be considered "sword-and-sorcery" in theme. And the epithet fits BÖC hardly at all, unless their eventual status as chief architects of "Sci-Fi" Metal places them in some general "fantasy" category for which "sword-and-sorcery" is a code word.

     But the Blue Öyster Cult is perhaps the most "mythic" of any of these four bands, beginning with their logo-symbol that graces all of their albums (see my title page).{28} The pedant in me now recognizes it as the ancient Greek symbol of Chronos, but my 70's "headbanger" friends and I saw the "hook" at the bottom as the Death-Reaper's scythe (quite appropriately, actually, given Chronos's associations with time and decay)--and as a wonderfully sacrilegious Roman cross corrupted by a devil's tail. Soon we all felt that we were members of this particular, peculiar "Cult": we yearned to know more about those Secret Treaties that had been arranged between the band, our own "dark" souls, and whatever occult "powers" there were:

By silverfish imperetrix, whose incorrupted eye
Sees through the charms of doctors and their wives--
By salamander, drake, and the power that was undine
Rise to claim Saturn, ring and sky--
By those who see with their eyes closed,
They know me by my black telescope. . . .
  ("Workshop of the Telescope," BÖC)

No, we hadn't the slightest clue what these obfuscatory words meant, but we "believed." Well-read enough between head-banging sessions to be appreciative of the contemporary interest in Oriental religions, we were all the more satisfied that the lead guitarist had adopted the stage name of Buck Dharma, a strange synthesis of Occidental cockiness and Eastern obeisance to "duty." We did, however, have the sneaking suspicion (having dabbled in Jung) that the song "Mistress of the Salmon Salt"--who is, at last, a prostitute whose "fertility" is somehow tied to crop growth--was a rather one-eye-winking retelling of the "rebirth" archetype, and yet our faith could not be waylaid. When their fourth (and first live) album was released (On Your Feet or On Your Knees), we were both "on our feet" in head-banger hurrahs--and "on our knees": we had indeed found something that compensated for our "impoverished and barren existence."

     Ahem. Little did we divine at the time that BÖC's main theme was indeed "out of this world," that many of their songs revolved around a sci-fi story concocted by the rock critic, Sandy Pearlman, who also happened to be the band's producer, manager, and collaborative lyricist. The mysterious "Desdenova" obliquely referred to in "Astronomy" (SecT) turns out to be one of the aliens who were put on earth centuries ago, initially coming from the sea (ergo, the "oyster" connection), and who then intervened at various important points of human history, until at last, in this century, he/they regain consciousness of his/their extraterrestrial origins. (Or at least this is my meager understanding of the story.) But the various allusive "pieces" to this plot-puzzle are so Joycean, if you will, that they have only been put together by devotees with even less of a life than me (Swartz). But to the average BÖC fan of the day, such scattered allusions remained the "holy mystery" that all good religions should have, forever opaque to the main flock of worshippers, "revealed" only to an "inner sanctum" of priestly initiates.{29}

     It might be obvious by now that I consider the great contemporary infatuation with extraterrestrials as a displacement or surrogate object for humankind's continued need for myth (and "meaning"), and I feel confident that Adorno would pan it as such, as a new brand of "occultism," as a continuing "retreat" from, or corruption of, the project of true, rational enlightenment. The other three bands of this tetrad also made occasional ventures into the "sci-fi" realm, as evidenced by Sabbath's "Planet Caravan" (Prnd) and Machine Head album cover Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" (Machine Head--an album title that Adorno might have done much with!) But BÖC would specialize in this particular brand of mythologization--in part, I would guess, because they were, as Jews, less interested in (or "mystified" by) the Christian-Satanist battle (Sabbath) or the "pagan" alternatives offered by Norse and Celtic mythology (Led Zep). Now, with the popularity of the X-Files, it appears that BÖC may have been (by pop culture standards) twenty years ahead of their time:

I hear the music, daylight disc--
Three men in black said, "Don't report this"--
"Ascension," and that's all they said--
Sickness now, the hour's dread--
All praise--he's found the awful truth--
Balthazar--he's found the saucer news.
  ("E.T.I." ["Extraterrestrial Intelligence"],
    AoF; italics mine)

     That the three men are in black is no coincidence, I think (to segue back to my general "occult" theme), just as Sabbath's Satan is a "figure in black" and BÖC's mystic optics involves a "black telescope." Early Metal's emphasis on the anti-hegemonic, "dark" side of myth leads to one of the most identifiable iconic features of the genre: "black" becomes a dominant motif, with its correlative ethical association, "evil." Metal album covers of this period are characteristically dark and sombre, and names of bands, albums, and songs are "painted," it seems, in the color of night{30} and darkness (e.g., Black Sabbath, "Black Night" [Deep Purple], "Black Dog" [LZ4], "Black Country Woman" and "Night Flight" (Zep, [Physical Graffiti]).{31} Noting that the "master word of the 1960s, LOVE, was negated by its binary opposite, EVIL" in 70's Metal, Weinstein notes a Tyranny & Mutation album cover corresponding color shift from the "earth tones and rainbow hues" of hippie psychedelia to Metal's "black" trademark (Weinstein 18; see also 151). Black is thus the "dominant color" of Metal album-cover art, with red second (Weinstein 29). BÖC overdoes both colors on Tyranny & Mutation [pictured here], with its black, white, and red album cover, and with one album side called the "Red" (with a red record label), the other side, the "Black" (with a black label); moreover, the first song is called--"The Red and the Black." The red and the black visually and lyrically invoked are not only Stendhal's military ("The Red and the Black") and priesthood, but also the archetypal associations of sex and death, passion and inertia ("OD'd on Life Itself"), hell and--uh, hell ("Hot Rails to Hell").

     "The Red and the Black" includes the rather strange lines, "[I] Got a whip [crack of whip in background] in my hand, baby, / And a girl or a husky at leather's end." Whether one feels more sorry for the girl or the dog, it's clear that the lyric's persona is a downright mean one: indeed, BÖC presented the most consistently "evil" pose of these four bands, with many lyrics definitely sado-masochistic in tone, as in "Dominance and Submission" (SecT), the biker-and-leather paean "Transmaniacon MC" (BÖC), and the controversial "Career of Evil" (SecT).{32} Couple such a musical sadism with Sabbath's apocalyptic gothicism, and one recognizes the ideational source for the plethora of later metal bands whose very names often "evoke ominous images" and/or "Themes of mayhem and cosmic evil" (Weinstein 33). Weinstein wants very much to interpret Metal's fixation on the "dark" side of myth as a "Thematic rebellion" against the forces of repression (43), as reflective of a sub-culture in the "dark," as it were, which therefore employs images of darkness and Satanism to express its status of being "underground," or in "hell." This is a fascinating notion that deserves fuller treatment, especially in terms of its relationship to Romanticism's typical use of images associated with the night, the underground, even the Satanic--a strain that runs unallayed through Baudelaire to "serious" literature of the present day. I will return to the positive ramifications of this point in the second half of this essay; Adorno would more likely say that this is the "old" dressed up once again as a "false new," as yet another eruption of the Romantic mythos.

     Walser offers a more materialist-economic motive for Metal's dark gothicism: noting that Metal's rise "coincides exactly with the period of the greatest popularity" of "horror films and books," he suggests as the cause for all these phenomena the fact that the "heavy metal audience is part of the first American generation that will be worse off economically than its parents" (161). At last, then, this "dark side of heavy metal is intimately related to the dark side of the modern capitalist security state: war, greed, patriarchy, surveillance, and control" (163). Weinstein's and Walser's readings may really be two sides of the same coin: Weinstein reads Metal's "darkness" as a more positive, active response to social oppression; Walser sees it more as a necessary, almost coerced and complicitous, reaction to a disciplinary system that requires a dark "underbelly" to feed on for its own raison-d'être.

     But as I move on to a discussion of the Metal audience per se, I must first remind myself that the Metal concert experience is hardly one of doom and gloom. This fact may be related to Weinstein's positing of two major "themes" in Heavy Metal, the "binary opposition" of "Dionysian and Chaotic": the latter is epitomized by the nay-saying infatuations with "death" and "rebellion," the former, by the affirmation of "life" & "ecstasy" that is in ample evidence at Metal festivities (Weinstein 35). (I use the term "festivities" purposely, since the polar opposition at hand is ultimately, I would contend, that of "Carnival," with its ambivalent joining of "blessing and curse . . . praise and abuse, face and backside, stupidity and wisdom" [Bakhtin 126].)

     Weinstein traces the "ecstatic" side of Metal back to its roots in 60's acid-pyschedelia, but claims for Metal a new "Dionysian key" in Metal's revision of rock as a music that "revels in the powers of life" (Weinstein 17).{33} This Dionysian aspect coalesces, moreover, in the "heightened level of excitement" or "ecstasy" of the Metal concert itself (217): "at the centre" of the Metal experience is the "rock-concert-as-ritual" (Clarke 533). Adorno would put a damper on such enthusiasm, of course: if "Life in the late capitalist era is a constant initiation rite" (DE 153), the Metal concert is one of the main sites of such a ritual, one that entails all the "religious" accoutrements discussed above: thus the Sabbath concert became a latter-day "black mass," the Zeppelin concert, a Reichian orgiastic mass experience, the BÖC concert, an initiation into a "master-slave" bonding or bondage that the audience members may have both resented{34} and yet submitted to--in the proper Adorno-esque spirit. (Deep Purple's relatively "secular"{35} lyrics have excused this band from much of the present discussion: but Jon Lord's[!] long medieval-modal and baroque organ passages might well have evoked a feeling of being beneath the huge naves of an old church.) Read as either positive ritual or negative mythologization, the Metal concert experience--whatever its particular "religious trappings"--can be seen as (yet one more) mythic return to the "One," a merging of the "masses" ("black" or not) into one enthusiastic Body.

     To Adorno, the false-archaic and mystifying origin of such enthusiasm is clear. The Bakhtinian carnivalesque has no positive value for Adorno, who finds the seeds of humankind's very "pleasure" and "enjoyment" in--oh!--"primitive orgies," rituals in which "men disavow thought and escape civilization" (DE 105). (Of course, Adorno's critique depends upon a positive valuation of "thought" and "civilization.") One easily imagines Adorno describing a Metal concert (and pointing out its ties to religion) in the following description of a jazz "event": "All are free to dance and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical neutralization of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects" (166). And despite Adorno's lifelong devotion to avant-garde music and various "dialectical" classical composers, his discussions of primitive (or even folk) music inevitably reveal mixed feelings towards "raw" music's primitive, emotional power. Noting its "origin . . . in myth" (Quasi 65), Adorno seems almost loathe to admit that music always has a "theological aspect": in some ways, in fact, it is a "demythologized[?!] prayer" ("MLC" 402). at last, its very alingual nature--its freedom from thought--makes it almost suspect as an art: music "reaches the absolute immediately," but ultimately fails "to bring home the impossible" (404). All music, then, may be the "false promise" that Adorno usually lays at the feet of popular music in particular. Finally, Adorno especially seems to fear the song (that is, music sung, with lyrics): the "archaic superior power of song"--in specific reference to the Sirens--hardly invests, in context, the word "superior" with any positive value for civilization; indeed, since Odysseus and the Sirens, "all songs have been affected, and Western music as a whole suffers from the contradiction of song in civilization--song which nevertheless proclaims the emotional power of all art music" (DE 59-60).{36}

     Whether Ozzy's vocal efforts even qualify as "song" might be a moot point, but they certainly represent the "explicit display of emotionality" that Weinstein claims as the Metal vocalist's "code" (26; see also 216). However, although these vocalists' high screams may bear scant resemblance to a diva's arias, the Metal concert's appeals to "mythology, violence, madness, [and] the iconography of horror" are indeed reminiscent of opera (Walser 109),{37} especially the late-Romantic Wagnerian variety that Adorno lambasted for reasons now obvious. While the religion of Wagner was dressed in Norse garb and sung to the harmonies of late-Romantic chromaticism, the "religion" of Metal is dressed in a more motley attire (though much of it, it would be easy to argue, is still a submerged Christianity) and sung to sounds less lush, played--to stress the technological element--on a slab of wood with metal strings, which is plugged into a box of wires, which is plugged into a wall.

     The Metal "event," in sum, exposes its audience to the dangers of a "machine" music driving its beat somewhere beyond the bounds of reason, with lyrics and iconography bedecked in a mystifying irrationality. Metal bands' common use of smoke and light shows in concert may thus be symptomatic of a shallow, obfuscatory "smoke-and-mirrors" mysticism. Adorno was right, then: present Western civilization is awash in ""primitive religious feelings[,] and new forms of religion . . . are sold on the open market" (DE 173)--and some of this stuff is even offered for the price of a concert ticket. Metal would probably not qualify as a valid mythopoeic art, in Adorno's mind: such music ""cannot simply be willed"; it depends upon "the society which it addresses." And after all, "is cultic music possible in the absence of a cult" (Quasi 228, 229)? If Adorno's question implies that the current turn of the rationalist/mythic dialectic due to the dehumanization of industrial capitalism allows for nothing more than various, surrogate, "watered-down" versions of religion, I couldn't disagree. But Adorno's rationalistic assumptions about the "mystifying" origins of the cultic, about "primitive religious feelings" themselves, make it impossible to consider him an unbiased observer.

     I will still attempt to give Adorno his due, however, by turning now to the Metal audience's behavior and the very lifestyle that it reflects. Here Adorno's phrase "licentious decadence" immediately comes to mind, as does Nietzsche's suggestion regarding "Theatre and music as the hashish-smoking and betel-chewing of the European! Who will ever relate the whole history of narcotica?" (§86).Though it would be too facile to read Adorno's thoughts on the relationship of pop artist and audience as one of "the blind leading the blind," Metal artists have indeed been blamed for modelling a lifestyle of drug abuse, sexual perversion (including sado-masochism), Satanism (of course), and just plain hatred (Weinstein 1-3). Weinstein later asserts that this "rockers-as-corrupter-of-youths" attribution of blame is not simply the false analysis of cause and effect, for indeed, via "sex,{38} drugs, and raising hell"--all values of the "metal subculture"--the Metal "band romanticizes and idealizes that lifestyle" (142).{39} There does exist the tempting Dionysian reading of headbanger drug usage as yet one more "source of release through ecstasy" (Weinstein 134; see also 213-14; 217-18), but this audience's supposed drugs of choice ("pot and downers" [133]) would seem to have led to a more passive "lotus-eater" attitude rather than to that of the Dionysian reveler. Thus Metal's mystified concert-goers might be prime exempla of Adorno's own take on the lotus-eater myth, in which drug use--like religion--is a but a way to "endure the unendurable," an effort by the "self to endure the self" (DE 62-3, 33)--especially given the context of a coercive industrial capitalism offering up the narcotic products, if you will, of the culture industry. Drug use, then, is hardly rebellion, at least in any authentic sense, in Adorno's view--rather, it's but another means to be further adapted into the system, and to make that self-and-society-enforced adaptation less painful--and less conscious.{40}

     As true as I believe this last statement to be true, I must interrupt this pro-Adorno section with some immediate rebuttals to Metal's ostensibly negative influence on its audience. To be brief, Tipper Gore and other critics of Metal haven't been "able to connect heavy metal directly with suicide{41}, Satanism, or crime" (Walser 143); furthermore, a survey of 88 Metal tunes from the Hit Parader "reveals relatively little concern with violence, drug use, or suicide" (139). Weinstein, while freely admitting other transgressive behaviors within the Metal sub-culture, surprisingly asserts that Metal has pretty much "avoided the theme" of drug abuse" (36-37), although one is here tempted to quote from the Metal-marijuana anthem, "Sweet Leaf":

When I first met you, didn't realize--
I can't forget you or your surprise--
You introduced me to my mind
And left me wanting you and your kind.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I love you. Oh, you know it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Straight people don't know what you're about--
They put you down and shut you out--
You gave to me a new belief,
And soon the world will love you, Sweet Leaf.
  (Black Sabbath, MstR)
Weinstein claims that "Sweet Leaf" isn't "consistent with heavy metal's sensibility," but stems rather from that of "psychedelic music" (37). But at last, the point is moot.{42}

     For all this speculation about the Metal audience's overt behaviors has no real bearing on Adorno's ultimate argument: the effects of the individual's interaction with the culture industry are much more insidious than having premarital sex or smoking a bong. These specific behavioral responses are probably just epiphenomena, so to speak, of an archetypal generational rebellion. Adorno's seminal perception is that the "beat goes on," that each new version of the "beat" is a kowtow to the system. (What follows is my version of Adorno's "best case.") And each new version--maybe each new musical genre, even--becomes more and more complicitous with an expanding technology that renders the individual an "appendix" to some Atman-industrial "Iron Man," and renders the individual more and more incapable of discerning the rational and humanistic from some irrational urge to merge with a mythical "One"--incapable, at last, of even asserting one's own independent "self." This leads us to Adorno's equation of popular music and fascism.

C. Castrati in Jackboots: Metal as Fascism

One leaves oneself at home when one goes to the theatre, one renounces the right to one's own tongue and choice. . .  . There one is common people, audience, herd, female, pharisee, voting cattle, democrat, neighbor, fellow man . . . even the most personal conscience is vanquished by the leveling magic of the great number. . . .   (Nietzsche §368)

     Nietzsche's words could have easily been uttered by Adorno in any of his various treatments of the culture industry and its audience, perceiving as he does the latter's surrender of individuality and conscience in the face of the former's onslaughts of techno-technique and mytho-irrationality. Since the "culture industry intentionally integrates its consumers from above," the popular audience is thereby rendered "an object of calculation, an appendage of the machinery" ("CIR" 128, 129), and the audience-"subject" becomes a "human sacrifice" to the collective ("OJ" 64). (The industry's "intentionality" is a problem here; one prefers nowadays the "disinterested" [and disjunctive] array of networked disciplines posited by Foucault.) Adorno's best "musicological" support for the audience's inculcation into the collective is a stroke of genius: in the popular song, the "verse" (each one different, therefore individualized) represents the "individual" or "hero"; the chorus (or "refrain"), in contrast, signifies the "collective." But at last, it is the chorus that really matters in pop music, and through its workings, the subject feels "transformed" by his/her union with "the collective of the refrain" and "merges with it in the dance" ("OJ" 63).

     One of Adorno's more disconcerting moves regarding this collectivization is to read this audience "sacrifice" as a symbolic, Freudian, castration. Thus the "eunuch-like sound of the jazz band" (e.g., the whining horns and vocals) is really an "initiation rite" towards "impotence" ("PFJ" 207), and its characteristic timbre of a "whimpering vibrato" is really an admission of (and seduction towards) "helplessness" before the process of collectivization ("OJ" 58; see also 67). (Question: has jazz's whimpering clarinet now become a whining Stratocaster?! ) And so, too, does Adorno immediately gender the jazz audience as "girls" ("Perennial Fashion--Jazz" 206), effeminizing the collective in one swell swoop. I call this "castrating" move a disconcerting one because--aside from its blatant sexism--it questions the very "manhood" of me, as a pop music (and jazz) fan: indeed, his whole notion of this "castration symbolism" in jazz ("PFJ" 207; see also "OJ" 66) is enough to make "even the mildest (male) jazz fan pause" (Cooper 106)!--and perhaps search for a more "manly" form of music.

     Such a search, moreover, might have led me directly to Heavy Metal, with its "macho ideology" (Weinstein 67; see also Walser 119) and its status as "cock rock" (Straw 377). Clarke explains its "90% male" audience as the result of its "phallic imagery of guitars and rampant sexism, especially in [its] macho lyrics" (532). (Hmmm. Why women wouldn't be just as, or even more, drawn to "phallic imagery" is beyond my ken.) So does all of this phallic iconography and sexist/sexual preoccupation excuse Metal from Adorno's general charge of "castration"? Adorno (and Freud) would reply, certainly not: the more one (unconsciously) feels "castrated," the more likely it is that one will overtly embrace a macho phallicism, as both denial and reaction formation.{43}

[. . . . . . . . to be continued]

     This concludes my endeavors to give Adorno his due. Despite my inability to resist the urge towards parenthetical insertions that already question his case, I hope to have shown that Adorno's critique of popular music fits Heavy Metal quite well, especially in terms of standardization, mythologization, and collectivization. In the second half of this essay, I will attempt to redeem Metal from this criticism--if, indeed, such a redemption is at all possible. [. . .]




Polysemy, Physicality, Profanation, & Parody



[Back to Title Page]


1 Weinstein's take on the 60's, vis-à-vis Heavy Metal, is worth noting: the Metal "subculture borrows" from "two of the most powerful signifying events of the 1960's, Woodstock and Altamont," the former, "the utopia of peaceful hedonism and community," and the latter, "the dystopia of macho violence" (101). BÖC plays with Metal's rejection of the "Summer of Love" in the song "This Ain't the Summer of Love" (Agents of Fortune [AofF]).

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2 Walser 10. Similarly, Weinstein places the "formative phase" of Metal "between 1969 and 1972" (14, 21).

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3 "The audience appreciates the bottom sound, the source of term 'heavy' in "heavy metal" (Weinstein 122).

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4 See, for instance, DE 125, 128, 136; "PFJ" 204. Most specifically, Adorno views such technological innovations in 20th century classical music in a quite negative fashion: in such works, "the process of composition itself is rendered physical: formulas for the generation of electronic sound replace the act of composition" ("Music, Language, and Composition" 409 ["MLC"]).

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5 Thus The Rolling Stone Record Guide, for instance, notes that Metal is "Presumed to appeal primarily--almost exclusively--to working-class young men" (Marsh 612; see also Clarke 532, Straw 379, Weinstein 66), although both Weinstein (101-102) and Walser (16-18) severely qualify such a monolithic sociological conclusion, and Will Straw, indeed, discusses the genre as primarily a suburban youth phenomenon (373-74). But if the Heavy Metal audience isn't entirely "white, male, [and] blue-collar," the music did come to "express the utopian desires, the life-style, and the discontents of" this particular "structurally defined segment of youth" (Weinstein 102; see also 99, 114, 117, 272).

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6 A scanned version of this album's front cover art (actually just the symbol at the very center of the cover) can be found on the title page of my essay.

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7 Or he may never have "heard" it as music at all, since his Western Classical music background would not have given Adorno enough understanding of the rock genre to hear it as anything more than "'noise'" (Baugh 72; see also Paddison 96). And so, while Adorno "could hardly have been unaware of the role played by the new rock music and jazz in the hippy and student movements" (Paddison 94), he "never veered from his construction of popular music as nothing more than Tin Pan Alley or some jazzy derivative of it, even though his death came at least a decade after the birth of rock 'n' roll" (Gendron 18). Townsend puts Adorno's lack of comprehension in linguistic terms: his classical music background was a "prescribed language" through which he could make no sense of any other "dialect form of the language" (82, 83). Thus the avant-garde music of Schönberg, et al., was Adorno's "filter" through with the "Other" of pop music was understood (Hohendahl 140). At last, in Stewart Hall's process of "encoding" and "decoding" (90-94), Adorno likely lacked the specific "framework of knowledge" that would have allowed him to properly "decode" the rock phenonemon.

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8 I say "relatively," in part because of Levin's essay on Adorno's early writings on the record player and LP recording, which demonstrate that he was no "knee-jerk Luddite." Levin laments that Adorno's activities as a "gramophone enthusiast" and even as a "rather engaged disc-jockey" are "relatively unknown." (Adorno had even planned to include an "accompanying record" to one of his books on music, settling instead on a "discography" at book's end [29-30, 44-47; see also Cooper 131-32].) In a similar vein, Hohendahl has discussed Adorno's relative (and intermittent) enthusiasm for the montage effect in film (131-133 [see also Cooper 132]).

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9 The "late Sixties" reference alludes to such bands as Grand Funk and Iron Butterfly, who did indeed play a "sluggishly" plodding hard rock and have sometimes been cited as early Metal bands; however, they did not consistently employ "power chords," and thus I stand by my own brief chronology given above.

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10 "Don't Fear the Reaper" is from BÖC's Agents of Fortune .
    Speaking of record sales, one should note that, during the time span under consideration, none of these bands exactly burned up the Top 40 charts in terms of singles "hits" (with the possible exception of Led Zeppelin):

1969 Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love"* #4
1970 Led Zeppelin "Immigrant Song" #16
1971 Led Zeppelin "Black Dog" #15
1973 Led Zeppelin "D'Yer Mak'er" #20
1973 Deep Purple "Smoke on the Water"* #4
1976 BÖC "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" #12

      *="gold" record (> one million in sales)
          (Whitburn 40, 89, 179)

    Black Sabbath's best Billboard effort was "Paranoid," which was #61 in the U.S., although it did reach the #4 position on the UK charts ("Black Sabbath--FAQ"). Metal's early years, then, were not supported by great AM radio play of individual songs: rather, album sales and live concerts (and to some extent, album-oriented FM stations) were its chief means of dissemination.

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11 I'm thinking especially of such songs as "War Pigs" (Prnd), "Iron Man" (Prnd), "Children of the Grave" (V4), and "Into the Void" (V4).

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12 Others would claim the "Golden Age" of Heavy Metal to be the late 70's (Weinstein 21) or the 80's (Walser 11-16), but as already indicated, I prefer to view subsequent Metal bands as formulaic "followers" of the creative originators, as a flock of Beaumonts and Fletchers who came after the Marlowes and Shakespeares of early, originary Metal, as it were. Jasper, et al., at least, echo my valuation by rehearsing the common debate over which of the triumvirate of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, or Deep Purple is the "definitive" or even the "'greatest'" Metal band (39, 179; see also Weinstein 14). (Will Straw, by the way, also specified the years "from 1969-70 until 1974-76" for his study of Metal [373].)

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13 Standardization is, at last, the "fundamental characteristic of popular music" ("On Popular Music" 17 ["OPM"]; see also 18, 21-24). In general, "the technology of the culture industry [is] no more than the achievement of standardization and mass production"; indeed, "all mass culture is identical" (DE 121). Such standardization, moreover, is only furthered by technological innovations such as the radio & the record, through which "only the copy appears" (143).

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14 Likewise, another conservative talk radio show, The Michael Reagan Talk Show, has used "Smoke on the Water" (from Machine Head [Mhd]), BÖC's "Don't Fear the Reaper" (AoF), and Zep's "The Song Remains the Same" as bumper music. The irony, above all, of Rush's right-wing audience listening to "Purple Haze," a song about LSD, is too precious for words!

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15 However, while Koval's numbers reveal a general trend in support of DE from 1958 on, the statistical evidence may best support "only for the period after 1976" (5)! Can you say, "Disco"?

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16 Thus Adorno likens the particulars of culture-industry artifacts to interchangeable automobile parts (DE 123), or as assembly-line oeuvres in which each "detail" is like a "cog in a machine" ("OPM" 19; see also 18). The musical components are "mixed into ever-new combinations" ("PFJ" 202), resulting in the mere "rehashing of basic formulas in which the schema shines through at every moment" (201). The culture industry's "hit songs" involve melodies, et al., that are "ready-made clichés" of "cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariant types" (DE 125).

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17 3 after an chord-interval roman numeral means "no 3rd," that is, a "chord" that is really a two-tone perfect fifth, or a "power chord." Also, the Roman numerals refer to intervals of the standard major (Ionian) scale--thus bVI3-bVII3-I3 = F3-G3-A3 in the key of A(m).

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18 However, I find this whole line of argument ultimately a failure: the lead guitarists of the four bands in question--Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, and Buck Dharma--sound as individualistic and distinct (given the genre!) as any four acoustic guitarists I can imagine.

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19 "The new is the longing for the new, not the new itself: That is what everything new suffers from" (Adorno, Aesthetic Theory 32 [ATh]).

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20 Or conversely, a few years later, Adorno can deem the syncopation technique outdated and downright "'corny'" ("PFJ" 199)!

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21 Moreover, the masses still "listen emotionally," with the aesthetic values of "late Romanticism" (Quasi 50; see also DE 91). Pop music's appeals to the emotions are thus at last "kitsch's emotional plunder," a "prevarication of feelings, fictional feelings" that merely result in "the neutralization of these feelings" (ATh 239).

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22 The "repetitive" beat of jazz, too, was, in Adorno's view, an "objectless cultic ritual" ("PFJ" 203).

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23 Regarding album covers, Straw notes the Metal motifs of "satanic imagery" or "motifs from heroic fantasy" art (378) that create at last a sort of "1970s kitsch" (378, 380).
     As an immediate example of the concert as "religion," the "religious overtones of holding Bics as simulacra of lighted candles" by audience members at live performances "are even more obvious if one believes that the practice originated at Led Zeppelin concerts when the band played 'Stairway to Heaven'" (Weinstein 231).

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24 "Many of the symbols, especially the visual ones, of heavy metal are derived from medieval northern Europe, ancient Anglo-Saxon, and Nordic mythologies" (Weinstein 113).

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25 Metal's general tendency towards messianism probably has Christian roots: "The Christian signifiers in which metal is steeped may not function the same way that they do in the discourses of mainline churches, but they are not arbitrary. A significant part of metal's mythology revolves around the more apocalyptic strain of Christianity, especially the Book of Revelations" (Weinstein 129).

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26 By gothic, I mean the connotations of darkness, decay, medievalism, etc., evident in Metal's lyrics, album covers, and even in the "old-modal" sound of its harmonic progressions. Weinstein claims that the "gothic motif represents and idealizes the proud-pariah self-image" of the Metal artist (219), but I prefer to emphasize the "dark"-side-of-myth motivations behind such an aggregate of signifiers.

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27 Regarding Ozzie's song to "Mr. Crowley" (yes, Jimmy Page's occult-meister), Walser notes that it is hardly praise of the occultist, but rather has an "ironic tone . . . never noticed by his literal-minded critics" (148).

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28 One should also note BÖC's "pioneering" use of the umlaut, a gimmick adopted by later metal bands "to mark their names as archaic or gothic" (Walser 2).

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29 This does, however, open the door to a polysemic response to BÖC's potential for irony and satire: one large body of fans takes their fire-and-brimstone S&M literally; another group of "enlightened initiates" sees the whole thing as a wink-of-the-eye, almost camp, parody. Such a distinction will be addressed in the second half of this essay.

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30 "One of the most frequent terms in the lyrics of heavy metal songs . . . is night" (Weinstein 42). My cursory survey of the lyrics on the recordings listed on my "Works Cited" page reveal the following number of occurrences: "night": 104; "black": 52; "evil": 19; "devil": 13; "Satan": 10; and "Lucifer": 7.

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31 Notable individual lyrics include Sabbath's slam on the military-industrial complex, "War Pigs" (Prnd), in which Ozzy can't help comparing the generals to "witches at black masses"; BÖC's surreal "Flights of black horseman" that soar through "Wings Wetted Down" (T&M)--reportedly based upon a Neruda translation (Swartz); and the chilling urban angst of BÖC's "Cities on Flame" (BÖC:

My heart is BLACK, and my lips are cold--
Cities on Flame with rock and roll--
Three thousand guitars, they seem to cry--
My ears will melt, and then my eyes--
Oh, let the girl, let that girl rock and roll--
Cities on Flame now, with rock and roll.
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32 "Career of Evil" includes the incredibly tasteless line, "I'd like to do it to your daughter on a dirt road"--which didn't bother me, I must confess, until I had my own daughter. The lyric has recently been "cleaned up" as follows: "I'd like to do it like yu' oughta on a dirt road"--a change due to complaints, perhaps, but maybe, too, some of the band members have subsequently sired daughters of their own!

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33 See also Weinstein ??[1st page of Ch.6], 217, 231, 272.

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34 Adorno's intriguing notes on the pop audience's simultaneous--if unconscious--resentment at being "sucked in" by the culture industry may be the best explanation yet for the phenomenon of "metal rage"--to be addressed later, in the section on "fascism."

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35 Deep Purple's main "Romantic" bent could be deemed exocitism, or more specifically, Orientalism, with such songs as "Woman from Tokyo" (Who Do We Think We Are!)--and even their live album, Made in Japan.

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36 Elsewhere, Adorno's reference to "cloudy, fallible impurity of song" (Quasi 77) is hardly reassuring!

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37 Besides the phenomenon of the "rock opera," I might also point out Sex-Pistols-manager Malcolm MacLaren's expressed appreciation of opera--because it so "mythic," like "some pagan ritual," "some Dionysian rite," "another kind of religion" (227). Essay

38 "Sex, in heavy metal's discourse, is sweaty, fun, and without commitments" (Weinstein 36).

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39 Drug use among Metal performers and followers stems, in part, from Metal's psychedelic tradition and the "'outlaw' image of metal itself" (Weinstein 133). And so, according to Weinstein, "'clean' bands" have a more difficult time achieving success in the Metal genre (89-90).

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40 Indeed, the "black market" for recreational drugs is but another by-product of consumer capitalism, in this view: "For Grand Funk, and many similar 'heavy-metal' bands of the era, 'Power to the People' was a slogan that justified rampant consumerism, as long as the consumer smoked pot, a perfect misunderstanding of populism" (Marsh 153)!

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41 Weinstein defends Metal against those who would claim that it "promotes" suicide (250-57), as does Walser: "To talk about something is not the same as promoting it; metal has a critical conscience many of its critics lack" ( 150)! BÖC member Al Bouchard defends "Don't Fear the Reaper" in particular from a similar charge: "DFTR is NOT about suicide. I've heard Don [Donald Roeser, aka Buck Dharma, who wrote the song] say this hundreds of times. . . . It's just about not fearing death. . . ."

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42 One could also derive from Adorno's passage on the "lying words" of radio and advertising the eventual "immoral" tenets of Metal's "message": the culture industry increases individual isolation, with the unfortunate consequence of illicit sex and "broke marriages"! (DE 221). Actually, the general sweep of argument here--as in so many places--sounds convincing; however, "during its first decade of existence heavy metal received virtually no airplay" (Weinstein 150), and thus the bands under consideration must have sold a hell of a lot of albums to have "caused" the current baby-boomer-Bill-Clinton "moral bankruptcy"!
    As a further sidenote, consciousness of the media's "lying words" is a not uncommon theme in Metal lyrics themselves:

I believe that I must tell the truth
And say things as they really are,
But if I told the truth and nothing but the truth,
Could I ever be a star?[!]
Nobody knows who's real and who's fakin'--
Everyone's shouting out loud--
It's only the glitter and shine that gets through--
Where's my Robin Hood outfit?
  (Deep Purple, "No One Came," Fireball)
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43 Adorno has explicitly addressed the general increase of sexual explicitness in this century's media and performed a similar inversion: "The mass production of the sexual automatically achieves its repression," due in part to the "threat of castration" (DE 140, 141).

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[Back to Title Page]


I. Written Texts: Adorno, Music, and Theory

Adorno, Theodor W.  Aesthetic Theory [1970] [ATh].  Ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann.
      Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P: 1997.
---.  "The Culture Industry Reconsidered" [1967] ["CIR"].  Trans. Anson G. Rabinbach.
      Bronner and Kellner 128-135.
---.  "Music, Language, and Composition" ["MLC"].  Trans. Susan Gillespie.
      Musical Quarterly 77.3 (1993): 401-14.
---.  "On Jazz" ["Über Jazz" (1936)] ["OJ"].  Trans. Jamie Owen Daniel.
      Discourse 12.1 (1989-90): 45-69.
---.  "On Popular Music" ["OPM"].  (With George Simpson.)
      Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9 (1941): 17-48.
---. "Perennial Fashion--Jazz" [1953] ["PFJ"].  Trans. Samuel and Shierry Weber.
      Bronner and Kellner 199-209.
---.  Quasi una Fantasia [1963] [Quasi].  Trans. Rodney Livingstone.
      London: Verso, 1992.  37-52.
---.  "Theses Against Occultism" [1947] ["TAO"].  Adorno: The Stars Down to Earth
      and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture.  Ed. Stephen Crook.
      London: Routledge, 1994.
Bakhtin, Mikhail.  Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics [1963].  Trans. Caryl Emerson.
      Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1984.
Baugh, Bruce.  "Left-Wing Elitism: Adorno on Popular Culture.
      Philosophy and Literature 14.1 (1990): 65-78.
Benjamin, Walter. "Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligensia."
      Trans. Edmund Jephcott.  Bronner and Kellner 172-183.
Bronner, Stephen Eric, and Douglas McKay Kellner, eds.  Critical Theory and Society.
      New York: Routledge, 1989.
Cooper, Harry.  "On Über Jazz: Replaying Adorno with the Grain."
      October 75 (1996): 99-133.
During, Simon, ed.  The Cultural Studies Reader.  London, Routledge, 1993.
Fox-Good, Jacquelyn.  "Other Voices: The Sweet, Dangerous Air(s) of
      Shakespeare's Tempest."  Shakespeare Studies 24 (1996): 241-274.
Gendron, Bernard.  "Theodor Adorno Meets the Cadillacs."  Studies in Entertainment:
      Critical Approaches to Mass Culture.  Ed. Tania Modleski.
      Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1986.  18-36.
Hall, Stuart.  "Encoding, Decoding."  During 90-103.
Hebdige, Dick.  "From Culture to Hegemony."  During 357-367.
Hohendahl, Peter Uwe.  "Reading Mass Culture."  Prismatic Thought:
      Theodor W. Adorno.  Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1995.  119-148.
Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno.  Dialectic of Enlightenment [1947] [DE].
      Trans. John Cumming.  New York: Continuum, 1998.
Jarvis, Simon.  Adorno: A Critical Introduction.  Cambridge: Polity, 1998.
Kristeva, Julia.  Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia [1987].  Trans. Leon S.
      Roudiez.  New York: Columbia UP, 1989.
---.  Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art.
      Ed. Leon S. Roudiez.  Trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, and Leon S. Roudiez.
      New York: Columbia UP, 1980.
---.  Revolution in Poetic Language [1974].  Trans. Margaret Waller.
      New York: Columbia UP, 1984.
Levin, Thomas Y.  "For the Record: Adorno on Music in the Age of Its Technological
      Reproducibility."  October 55 (1990): 23-47.
Nietzsche, Friedrich.  The Gay Science [1887].  Trans. Walter Kaufmann.
      New York: Vintage, 1974.
Paddison, Max.  "Adorno, Popular Music and Mass Culture."
      Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture.  London: Kahn & Averill, 1996.  81-105.
Townsend, Peter.  "Adorno on Jazz: Vienna versus the Vernacular."
      Prose Studies 11.1 (1988): 69-87.

II. Written Texts: Rock and Metal

Chow, Rey.  "Listening Otherwise, Music Miniaturized: A Different Type of
      Question about Revolution."  During 382-399.
Clarke, Donald, ed.  The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music.  London: Viking, 1989.
Epstein, Dan.  "Soul Kitchen."  Guitar Player Feb. 1998: 54+.
Jasper, Tony, et al.  The International Encyclopedia of Hard Rock & Heavy Metal.
      Rev. ed.  London: Sidgwick, 1986.
Koval, Howard.  "Homogenization of Culture in Capitalist Society."
      Popular Music and Society 12.1 (1988): 1-16.
Marcus, Greil  Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century.
      Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1989.
Marsh, Dave, and John Swenson, eds.  The Rolling Stone Record Guide.
      New York: Random House, 1979.
McLaren, Malcolm, et al.  "Punk and History."  Discourses:
      Conversations in Postmodern Art and Culture.  Ed. Russell Ferguson, et al.
      Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990.  224-245.
Straw, Will.  "Characterizing Rock Music Culture: The Case of Heavy Metal."
      During 368-381.
Walser, Robert.  Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in
      Heavy Metal Music.  Hanover: Wesleyan UP, 1993.
Weinstein, Deena.  Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology.  New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Whitburn, Joel.  The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits.  New York: Billboard, 1987.

III. On-Line Sources

"Black Sabbath--FAQ."  Version 1.0.
      <>   (26 Oct. 1998).
Bouchard, Albert.  <>  "Re: DRAFT BOC FAQ,
      Part 4, Version 0.3." 30 Oct. 1994.  <>  (30 Oct. 1994).
"Deep Purple: The Frequently Asked Questions List."  The Highway Star.  14 Jan. 1998.
      <>  (26 Oct. 1998).
De Feo, Roberto.  "The Led Zeppelin FAQ."  Version 8.1.  29 Sept. 1994.
      <>  (26 Oct. 1998).
Swartz, John.  "Blue Öyster Cult: Frequently Asked Questions."  Version 3.0.
      1 May 1998.  <>  (26 Oct. 1998).

IV. Sound Sources

Black Sabbath.  Black Sabbath [BlkS].  Warner Brothers, 1970.
---.  Paranoid [Prnd].  Warner Brothers, 1970.
---.  Master of Reality [MstR].  Warner Brothers, 1971.
---.  Volume 4 [Vol4].  Warner Brothers, 1972.
---.  Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath [SBS].  Warner Brothers, 1973.
---.  Sabotage.  Warner Brothers, 1975.
---.  Technical Ecstasy.  Warner Brothers, 1976.
Blue Öyster Cult.  Blue Öyster Cult [BÖC].  Columbia, 1972.
---.  Tyranny and Mutation [T&M].  Columbia, 1973.
---.  Secret Treaties [SecT].  Columbia, 1974.
---.  On Your Feet or On Your Knees.  Columbia, 1975.
---.  Agents of Fortune [AoF].  Columbia, 1976.
Deep Purple.  Deep Purple in Rock.  Warner Brothers, 1970.
---.  "Black Night."  Warner Brothers, 1970.
---.  Fireball.  Warner Brothers, 1971.
---.  Machine Head [MHd].  Warner Brothers, 1972.
---.  Made in Japan.  Warner Brothers, 1972.
---.  Who Do We Think We Are!  Warner Brothers, 1973.
---.  Burn.  Warner Brothers, 1974.
---.  Stormbringer.  Warner Brothers, 1974.
Led Zeppelin.  Led Zeppelin [LZ1].  Atlantic, 1969.
---.  Led Zeppelin II [LZ2].  Atlantic, 1969.
---.  Led Zeppelin III [LZ3].  Atlantic, 1970.
---.  Untitled [Led Zeppelin IV [LZ4]].  Atlantic, 1971.
---.  Houses of the Holy.  Atlantic, 1973.
---.  Physical Graffiti.  Swan Song, 1975.
The Michael Reagan Talk Show.  Premiere Radio Networks.  KXIC, Iowa City.
The Rush Limbaugh Show.  EIB Network.  WHO, Des Moines.  [1998.]

APPENDIX: Notes, Links, Credits . . .


 NOTE: I eventually intend to make this essay much more of an earnest hyper-media "event," with a fuller array of Metal-related sounds, graphics, and hypertext links: "The death of the linear text is upon us." --some postmodern guy . . .

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