4th Global Conference
Heavy Metal Generations
Wednesday 9th May – Friday 11th May 2012
Prague, Czech Republic
Belfast City Blues: Northern Ireland, The Troubles and Mama’s Boys / Celtus
Michael J K Walsh
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
This paper looks at the response of one rock band (consisting of three Catholic brothers) to The Troubles in Northern Ireland and, through an analysis of several of their songs and the critical receptions they received, discusses the importance of their apolitical stance. The band was Mama’s Boys, the era was the 1980s, and the issues in question were segregation, sectarianism and an institutionally sustained bigotry. In the 1990s two of the brothers (the third had died of leukaemia) formed another band, Celtus, which again called for peace in the aftermath of the Omagh bomb, albeit through an entirely different musical genre, Irish traditional. The power of the music and the passion of the lyrics, set within the socio-political context of the time / place, is the focus of this paper.
Black Metal: Stone Vengeance and the Racial Politics of Heavy Metal
Columbia University, USA
This paper investigates the little-remarked-upon “black metal scene” of African American metal musicians. While there is a small African American fan base, this paper focuses on Stone Vengeance, a thrash metal band made up of African American musicians (Michael Coffey, guitar, vocals; Anthony Starks, bass, vocals; Darren Tomkins, drums) and the context in which their creative work circulates. Stone Vengeance, self-proclaimed Lords of Heavy Metal Soul formed in the predominantly African American neighborhood of the Bayview-Hunter’s Point in San Francisco in 1978. A little over three decades later, the power trio is still bangin’ their heads, living in a community that understands little of their music and whose fans are drawn primarily from white suburban neighborhoods in the US and Europe.
Their aesthetic mixes black cultural sources with speed and thrash metal antecedents. For example, Coffey’s vocals are striking for their clear enunciation and clarity in a genre in which “cookie monster” vocalists vie with pseudo-operatic castrati for attention. Are Coffey’s vocals a heavy metal homage to Chuck Berry, whose unstressed diction in his singing was a conscious part of his crossover strategy in the 1950s? This paper is part of a bigger project regarding non-white American musicians in heavy metal that seeks to complicate any assumptive racialisation of heavy metal as an exclusively white genre.