Whiteness With(out) Borders: Translocal narratives of whiteness in heavy metal scenes in Norway, South Africa and Australia.


  • Catherine Hoad Macquarie University




This article discusses how narratives of white masculine identity have been deployed in nation-specific ways within heavy metal scenes in Norway, South Africa and Australia. While heavy metal's global spread has allowed more diverse aesthetics to emerge, within these nations it has also constructed rigid boundaries of community tied both historically and contemporaneously to whiteness. This article interrogates how the dominant practices of three heavy metal scenes affirm an ‘originary’ whiteness that erases its migratory and/or colonial status. In this article I investigate the processes through which discourses of whiteness and white masculinity are translocated and translated from one context to another, enabling spaces of both negotiation and resistance. I address how national heavy metal scenes negotiate these intersections of musicality, whiteness and nationhood in ways that may explore new possibilities for white masculine identities, while also reproducing a rigid politics of power, privilege and exclusion.

Author Biography

Catherine Hoad, Macquarie University

Catherine Hoad is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Macquarie University. Her research explores the processes through which discourses of whiteness have been deployed across heavy metal scenes in Norway, South Africa and Australia, and how such narratives are embedded within broader regional trajectories of masculinity and colonialism.


Alchemist. 2000. “Austral Spectrum.” Track 1, Organasm. Victoria: Displeased Records.

Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities. London: Verso.

Arnett, Jeffrey J . 1996. Metalheads. Colorado: Westview Press

Ballantine, Christopher. 2004. “Re-thinking 'whiteness'? Identity, change and 'white' popular music in post-apartheid South Africa.” Popular Music 23[2]:105–131.

Bansal, Andrew. 2014. “In-depth interview with Ivar Bjornson of Enslaved” Metal Assault. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://metalassault.com/Interviews/2014/02/19/in-depth-interview-with-ivar-bjornson-of-enslaved/.

Barnett, Errol. 2012. “Rebels with a cause: Botswana's heavy metal heads.” CNN, July 4. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/29/world/africa/botswana-heavy-metal-heads.

Bayer, Gerd. 2009. “Rocking the Nation: One Global Audience, One Flag?’ in Heavy Metal Music in Britain, edited by Gerd Bayer, 181-194. Surrey: Ashgate.

Beeldenstorm. 2011. ”Uhuru.” 28 September. Accessed April 23, 2015. https://facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150394515706397.

Bennett, Andy. and Peterson, Richard A. 2004. “Introducing Music Scenes.” In Music Scenes: Local, Translocal and Virtual, edited by Andy Bennett and Richard A. Peterson, 1-16. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

Berger, Harris M. 2010. Stance: ideas about emotion, style, and meaning for the study of expressive culture. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Bhabha, Homi K. 1986. “Foreword.” In Black Skin, White Masks, by Frantz Fanon, vii-xxv. London: Pluto Press.

Billig, Michael. 1995. Banal Nationalism. London: Sage.

DarkFiend. 2014. “Mind Assault Call ‘Mag Verkrag’.” Metal 4 Africa. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://metal4africa.com/news/mind-assault-call-mag-verkrag/.

Dead Kelly. 2014. Sons of the Southern Cross, Queensland: Independently released.

Delgado, Richard and Stefancic, Jean. 1996. Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Enslaved. 1997. Eld. Bergen: Osmose.

Enslaved. 1998. Blodhemn. Ludvika: Osmose.

Enslaved. 2001. Monumension. Bergen: Osmose.

Frankenberg, Ruth. 1993. White Women, Race Matters. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Gaines, Donna. 1990. Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia’s dead end kids. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Garbutt, Robert. 2004. “White on White: Surveying the boundaries of local whiteness.” In Placing Race and Locating Whiteness, edited by Susanne Schech and Ben Wadham¸ 104-122. Adelaide: Flinders Press.

Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. London: Verso.

Gotrich, Lars. 2012. ‘Song Premiere: Enslaved, ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’’, NPR Music, August 8. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2012/08/08/158219619/song-premiere-enslaved-thoughts-like-hammers.

Fischer-Giffin, Brian. 2008. The Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal. San Bernardino: Lulu.

Frith, Simon. 1983. Sound Effects. USA: Pantheon Books.

Frith, Simon. 1996. Performing Rites: On the value of popular music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hagen, Ross. 2011. “Musical Style, Ideology, and Mythology in Norwegian Black Metal.” In Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World, edited by Jeremy Wallach, Harris M. Berger and Paul D. Greene, 180-199. Durham: Duke University Press.

Half Past H8. 2008. “Die Stem.” Accessed April 23, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3hJ-6e21-c.

Haun, Josh. 2010. “Metal scene report: Australia” Invisible Oranges, August 13. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2010/08/metal-scene-report-australia/.

Hebdige, Dick. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Routledge.

Hjelm, Titus., Kahn-Harris, Keith. and LeVine, Mark. 2013. “Introduction: Heavy metal as controversy and counterculture.” In Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures, edited by Titus Hjelm, Keith Kahn-Harris and Mark LeVine, 1–14. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.

Hochhauser, Sharon. 2011. “The Marketing of Anglo-Identity in the North American Hatecore Metal Industry.” In Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World, edited by Jeremy Wallach, Harris M. Berger and Paul D. Greene, 161-179. Durham: Duke University Press.

Johnston, Anna and Lawson, Alan. 2000. “Settler Colonies”. In A Companion to Postcolonial Studies, edited by Henry Schwarz and Sangeeta Ray, 360-376. Carlton: Blackwell.

Kahn-Harris, Keith. 2007. Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge. New York:Berg.

Kobus!. 2007. “Witman.” Track 2, Swaar Metal. Cape Town: Rhythm.

Lord. 2003. “The Dreaming.” Track 1, A Personal Journey. Victoria: Modern Invasion Music.

Moore, Allan. 2002. “Authenticity as Authentication.” Popular Music 21[2]:209-223.

Mortal Sin. 1987. Mayhemic Destruction, London: Vertigo.

Moynihan, Michael and Søderlind, Didrik. 1998. Lords of Chaos: The bloody rise of the Satanic metal underground. Los Angeles: Feral House.

Nandlall, Lav. 2012. “South Africa Metal: Beeldenstorm.” Heavy Metal Duchess, March 2. Accessed April 23, 2015. https://heavymetalduchess.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/south-africa-metal-beeldenstorm/.

O’Malley, Stephen [Ed., sole author]. 1994. Descent Magazine, 1.

OuroborousSnake. 2009. “It's metal in Afrikaans bru!.” Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives, April 9. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.metalarchives.com/reviews/Kobus!/Swaar_Metaal/152867/.

Overell, Rosemary T. 2012. Brutal Belonging: Affective intensities in, and between, Australia’s and Japan’s grindcore scenes. Doctoral dissertation, University of Melbourne.

Phillipov, Michelle. 2008. “Metal 'Downunderground': Mapping the terrain of the Great Southern wasteland.” In Sounds of Then, Sounds of Now – Popular Music in Australia, edited by Shane Homan and Tony Mitchell, 215-230. Hobart: ACYC Publishing.

Pillsbury, Glenn. T. 2006. Damage Incorporated. New York: Routledge.

Purcell, Natalie. 2003. Death Metal Music: The Passion and Politics of a Subculture. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Ramon. 2009. “Mind Assault.” Lords of Metal ezine. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.lordsofmetal.nl/nl/interviews/view/id/3022.

Spracklen, Karl. 2013. Whiteness and Leisure. Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan.

Storm. 1995. Nordavind. Oslo: Moonfog.

Thompson, Karenlee. 2007. “The Australian Larrikin: CJ Dennis's [Un] sentimental Bloke.” Antipodes 21[2]:177-183.

Twine, France W. and Gallagher, Charles. 2008. “The future of whiteness: A map of the ‘third wave’.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 31[1]:4-24.

Ulver. 1997. Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden. Nordrhein-Westfalen: Century Media.

Wallach, Jeremy, Berger, Harris M. and Greene, Paul D. 2011. “Affective Overdrive, Scene Dynamics, and Identity in the Global Metal Scene.” In Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World, edited by Jeremy Wallach, Harris M. Berger and Paul D. Greene, 3-33. Durham: Duke University Press.

Walser, Robert. 1993. Running With the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.

Weinstein, Deena. [1991] 2000). Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture (Revised Edition). Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

Wilson, Scott. 2010. “From Forests Unknown: Eurometal and the Political/Audio Unconscious”. In Metal Void: First Gatherings, edited by Niall R.W Scott, 149-159. Oxford, Inter-Disciplinary Press.