Leeds Beckett University has released findings based on a new study that claim the folk metal subgenre of metal music (which takes inspiration from Vikings and other Pagan cultures) is a white European man’s fantasy space that promotes white masculinity and perpetuates racism and sexism.
The study was published by Professor Karl Spracklen in the journal of Metal Music Studies. In the article, Spracklen theorizes that folk metal uses lyrics and costumes based on mythological warriors preserves the archaic patriarchal power structure that positions white male Europeans as superior to others.
“The important point about folk metal is that there is a pretence that the bands are drawing on older folk music and pagan myths to make music that is authentically local and national. The myths are generally of masculine prowess and the warrior’s search for glory. However many fans see some of the bands as inauthentic and not real pagans, sometimes using historical inaccuracies and singing in English where this isn’t their nation’s first language.” – Professor Karl Spracklen
Spraklen explains that while women do enjoy folk metal with the same intensity and passion as men, the “heart of folk metal is predominantly masculine.”
Through tales and representations of Vikings on stage, claims Spraklen, warriors and cultural purity are exalted, which “reduces belonging and identity in a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan society to a few exclusive myths.” He says this results in white men learning how to be white men, which puts shows ethnic minorities and women their place in society.
His study includes mentions of the folk metal bands Turisas and Tyr, both of whom he claims are misrepresenting and romanticising Pagan traditions. He says that while they may not be intentionally racist, they “sell the idea of myth and racial purity” through the use of Viking imagery like Thor’s hammer.
Here’s Ten More Miles by Turisas – do you agree with Spracklen’s findings? Tell us in the comments!