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Death Metal and Music Criticism


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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

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


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

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