Maximum Sonic Impact: (Authenticity/Commerciality) Fidelity-Dualism in Contemporary Metal Music Production

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


Metal is part of the Westernised, commercial pop and rock music industry that has imposed itself on the rest of the world […] metal has played and continues to play a key role in the globalised entertainment industries.

The term ‘heavy metal’ was first used as an adjective relating to popular music in the late 1960s, however, in the early 1970s the expression began to be employed as a noun and therefore as a descriptor for a music genre (Walser 1993: 7). Heavy metal, more recently referred to simply as metal, has therefore existed for approximately five decades. Given the longevity of this music’s appeal, it is significant to note that there was little critical discourse on the genre prior to the early 1990s (Bennett 2001: 42; Phillipov 2012: xi). However, in the past seven years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of academics researching and studying the area (Scott and Von Helden 2010: ix). This is evidenced by the world’s first scholarly conference on the metal genre, ‘Heavy Fundametalisms – Music, Metal and Politics’, held in Salzburg, Austria, in 2008 (Sheppard 2008). To date, the focus of this academic study has tended to address the importance and relevance of metal from a historical, sociological, anthropological, cultural, musicological and political science perspective (e.g. Weinstein 1991; Walser 1993; McIver 2000, 2005; Kahn-Harris 2007). Additionally, Weinstein points to metal studies drawing on the fields of economics, literature, communication and social psychology (2011: 243). Therefore, as Pieslak notes, the existing literature on heavy metal is mainly dedicated to its culture and transformations, rather than the music itself (2008: 35). Furthermore, academic exploration into the processes of music production, more generally, can be viewed as being in an embryonic phase. Much of the discussion, as Howlett highlights, is ‘marginalised as an incidental, or peripheral observation’, due to discourse often being found in texts presented from cultural theory perspectives, or those that focus on the history of recording and the impact that the arrival of recording technology had from a sociological viewpoint (2009: 7). Of particular relevance here is that comprehensive study into procedural methodologies for the production of contemporary metal music is ‘virtually non-existent’ (Turner 2012: ii). By focusing on the qualities – as well as the associated processes, approaches and techniques – that provide recorded and mixed contemporary metal music (CMM) with maximum sonic impact, the author intends that this chapter partially addresses this apparent literary gap....
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook of Music Production
EditorsSimon Zagorski-Thomas, Andrew Bourbon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781501334030, 9781501334047, 9781501334054
ISBN (Print)9781501334023, 1501334026, 9781501393426
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020

Publication series

NameBloomsbury Handbooks
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing Plc


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