NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

Metal music, religion and entertainment

Marcus Moberg, Åbo Akademi University

Metal is one of the most extreme and controversial forms of popular music of our time. Yet, it is also one of the most enduring and long-lived. Metal has always showed great interest in various types of religious themes, particularly the evil forces of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Religious themes have become such an integral part of metal music and culture that they arguably also have become an important part of the metal experience in itself. They surface in every aspect of metal culture; in the music itself, in its visual aesthetics, in specialized media as well as at live performances. Within the context of popular culture, metal has become an important medium for the dissemination of a wide variety of alternative religious ideas and beliefs. In spite of this, metal is rarely mentioned within the study of religion and popular music. The seriousness attached to these types of themes within metal culture is, however, a matter that is open for debate. This paper explores the ways in which religious themes often figure within metal music and culture in a spirit of playfulness and entertainment.