I recently came across an academic article by Karl Spracklen called “To Holmgard…and Beyond: Folk metal fantasies and hegemonic white masculinities” In the journal of Metal Music Studies.
The author starts by talking about what Folk Metal is, and in my own words I describe it as Metal Music that uses traditional instruments (hurdy gurdy, bag pipes, drums from various areas, lute, accordion etc.) An example would be the band Eluveitie which I have written early about.
Then the author talks about a few bands in detail: Turisas, Eluveitie,Týr, In Extremo, and Cruachan. Our author notes that all the bands members are white, and that most of them are male. But why does he almost act like he is shocked or this is a bad thing? All These are European bands that come from countries were at the time of the formation 90%+ white.
And with regards to gender, metal and rock music in general is male dominated so it’s nothing new. But I like how he assumes that these bands just use women as tokens. In regards to Cruachan, an Irish folk metal band he says that they differentiate themselves from pagan or viking folk metal by”having lead female vocals and songs that are not solely about battles”.
Anyways, he also critiques these bands for misrepresenting what they suppose they do. For instance with Eluveitie which has a theme on ancient Celtic culture in Switzerland, he says
“Similarly, it is unclear how much of Eluveitie’s music draws on the actual traditions of Swiss folk music of the last 150 years. This is the symbolic construction of imaginary community at work, where folk is reduced to a Celtic stereotype of bagpipes, fiddles and kilts – and where warrior masculinities are celebrated in the idea of resisting the evil Romans”
But of course, with all the bands he accuses their lyrics of paganism, vikings and other folk themes of promoting a masculine homogeneity and whiteness. See below.
“That folk culture is not the precedent of the multiethnic and multicultural culture of nations now; these folk in the past are pure white peoples, monocultural and monoracial, who have supposedly preserved ways of thinking and being that have been transferred in blood lines down the ages to the present day. This folk metal desire to find authenticity in folk is a quest for pure and holy blood, a quest for belonging in an unmixed,white race…[T]hey perform racial purity and instrumental whiteness, and allow their white fans to identify with this imaginary pure white origin “
“The warrior myth serves to normalize the hegemonic masculinity still in place in modernity. The performances tell fans and other listeners that before this time men lived as proper, tough men, defending their wives and their families. Men proved their worth on the battlefield.And men today are the inheritors of this tradition, this myth…[T]his is the hegemonic myth of masculinity that men behave in this way because this is how men are made – that is, men are just meant to be like this, and so equality becomes a false step “
Let’s talk about the whiteness part first. Metal, is one of those self segregating things (meaning everyone is invited to, but not everyone joins) where white people get together. Look at videos of metal concerts, and try to find minorities; it’s kind of hard. But is this a bad thing? Should white people be shamed for liking metal music?
Should Asians be shamed for liking music in say Chinese or Japanese as a way to promote Asian homogeneity? What about musical genres that mostly just black people like? In the eyes of the modern world that’s where they go to talk about their so called oppression, but if whites do it it’s their way to oppress people.
But he’s not wrong when he says that the cultural sung about in European folk metal music is that of monoracial white people. I mean, Spracklen says it not me when he says that people listening to folk metal music “is a quest for pure and holy blood, a quest for belonging in an unmixed, white race”. Finally, white people are doing something the every other race does and is assumed to be allowed to do. What’s wrong with wanting Europe to be for Europeans? If that’s wrong then Africa shouldn’t be for Africans and Asia should not be for Asians.
And now onto the masculinity issue. He’s pretty much right for the wrong reasons. Yeah, folk metal music promotes traditional gender roles in many ways. Equality is a lie and folk metal helps promote that but in my eyes that’s a good thing. Men and women are not equal, they are different and better at different things. If men and women were equal then two guys or two girls would be able to have children. But they’re not – therefore they are not equal.
What’s wrong with telling men through folk metal be strong and to protect those who are weak and defend your civilization?
The whole point of this article was to attack something that only white people like (with the exception of like maybe 5 Asians and 1 black guy) and attack gender roles. By saying that this music is evil and oppressive. Well if listening to folk metal means you like gender roles and think white people shouldn’t be extinct then count me in.