Heavy metal resonates with listeners worldwide

Music has been described as the “universal language,” even apparently the harsh sounds of heavy metal. This seems to be borne out by the pervasive popularity of the genre over the last four decades. A new book co-written and edited by popular culture faculty member Dr. Jeremy Wallach, Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World, traces it from Easter Island to Nepal and China to Madagascar, Brazil and beyond. 

Published by Duke University Press, Metal Rules the Globe is the first academic book to bring together metal scholars in an examination of what is common and what is unique about the way in which heavy metal is interpreted in such disparate environments. Wallach and his co-editors Drs. Harris Berger, a professor of music at Texas A&M University, and Paul Greene, an associate professor of musicology and integrative arts at Pennsylvania State University, Brandywine, are themselves fans in addition to being scholars of the genre.

Heavy metal is outsider music no matter where it is. Its fans see themselves as proud pariahs
- Wallach

Wallach was prompted to write Metal Rules the Globe after the ongoing success of his first book, Modern Noise, Fluid Genres, about the popular music scene in Indonesia. His research there and elsewhere revealed a potent subculture of metal fans that had never been documented. His scholarship has resulted in his recently being invited to the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations conference as a panelist on “The Rise in Asian Popular Culture and Its Impact on International Diplomacy." 

Characterized by loud, distorted guitars, aggressive drumming, emotionally extreme singing and musical complexity, heavy metal appeals largely to males. “Heavy metal is outsider music no matter where it is. Its fans see themselves as proud pariahs,” Wallach said. However, there is a fair amount of scholarship by women on metal music, which is well represented in the Metal Rules the Globe.

“This book is a small slice of what has become an important cultural phenomenon,” Wallach said.

More information