'Scream bloody gore' - the abject body and posthuman possibilities in death metal

Catherine Hoad

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperpeer-review


The title of this article, taken from Death's 1987 album, is representative of the themes of gore, horror and revulsion that typically permeate death metal. Largely developing in the 1980s, 'death metal' is the name given to a form of 'extreme' metal music characterised by deep growling vocals, heavily distorted guitars and an unbridled absorption in the possibilities for bodily mutilation. However, while death metal is frequently condemned for its misanthropic and nihilistic themes, I suggest that it is those same themes that open up the possibilities of rethinking the passive nature of corporeality and the horror of the transgressive body. For death metal, consciousness is always of the body, rather than separate from it - hence the abject body is not one to be understood as separate and 'Other', but rather a crucial part of human subjectivity. The mind is nothing without the body - to mutilate, desecrate and torture the body is to simultaneously exercise power over the mind. Thus the 'abject' body, within death metal, is never truly separate. Given this, this article will explore how death metal offers a means through which to look beyond traditional consciousness-based perceptions of the human experience, and instead approaches the body as an integrated, yet ultimately organic site. As such, this article will begin to map the manner in which death metal confronts the abject body, holding within it a fascination with death and violence while simultaneously eschewing mind/body dualisms. Death metal, insomuch as it forces us explore both the physical and mental manifestations of our existence as human animals, reminds us that we are always vulnerable to forces that threaten the boundaries of the self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalNEO : journal for higher degree research in the social sciences and humanities
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventThe annual NEO Higher Degree Research and Honours - Sydney, Australia, Sydney
Duration: 4 Aug 20125 Aug 2012

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