Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
Saturday, May 18 • 11:00 - 11:30
Gendered Cotextuality in Heavy Metal Songs/Videos: The Role of the Female Guest Artist

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Although a male-dominated genre, heavy metal has opened up space for “female-fronted metal,” a domain that is treated as a genre itself, even though the artists work in a range of subgenres (e.g., gothic metal, power metal, progressive metal, symphonic metal, melodic death metal). The acclaimed vocalists of this domain are frequently invited to collaborate as guest artists with melodically-driven metal bands. Floor Jansen (After Forever; ReVamp; Nightwish), Simone Simons (Epica), Anneke von Giersbergen (The Gathering), Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist; Arch Enemy) and Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) are five exemplary vocalists who are celebrated for their powerful vocals and creative contributions. This paper examines the following music video collaborations: White- Gluz and Ryd in Kamelot’s power metal track, ‘Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)’ (Silverthorn, 2012); Jansen in Evergrey’s progressive metal track, ‘In Orbit” (The Storm Within, 2016); Simons and Jansen in Ayreon’s progressive metal rock opera track, ‘All That Was’ (The Source, 2017); and von Giersbergen in Amorphis’ progressive metal track, ‘Amongst Stars’ (Queen of Time, 2018).

I analyze these song/video collaborations to reveal how the female artists inject their own style into the sonic-visual world of the band, posing a number of questions: What degree of performative empowerment is attributed to the guest vocalist? How does her sonic and visual style impact upon and contribute to song expression and meaning? What strategies and ideologies are at play in the representation of gendered and sexualized subjectivities? For this analysis, I will mobilize the concept of “cotextuality” (Burns, Dubuc & Lafrance 2010) to consider the coexistence and interaction of the discursive attributes of the female artist’s text within the host text of the band. The analytic approach responds to scholarly writings on gender and sexuality in metal performance (e.g, Walser 1993; Weinstein 2000; Heesch & Scott 2016; Berkers & Schaap 2018).

avatar for Lori Burns

Lori Burns

Professor, University of Ottawa

Saturday May 18, 2019 11:00 - 11:30 EDT
Classroom 311 (3rd floor)