Getting Medieval: Signifiers of the Middle-Ages in Black Metal Aesthetics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explores how medieval signifiers function in black metal's musical style, lyrics, and album imagery, specifically albums using woodcut engravings. It analyzes how the word "medieval" functions in discourses about those albums, including reviews, magazines, forum discussions, and YouTube comments. The analysis combines qualitative close readings with quantitative analyses of word frequencies, indicating which albums have provoked the term "medieval" most. I then show which other terms are closely paired with it—descriptive adjectives, analogies and associative imagery, and various aesthetic judgments. I compare these findings with close music analyses to offer stylistic explanations for black metal's enduring fascination with the medieval. Finally, the chapter explores how black metal's associations with the medieval also intersect with notions of cultural purity and political controversies within medieval studies itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedievalism and Metal Music Studies
Subtitle of host publicationThrowing Down the Gauntlet
EditorsRuth Barratt-Peacock, Ross Hagen
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781787563957
ISBN (Print)1787563960, 9781787563964
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameEmerald Studies in Metal Music and Culture

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