A friend of mine wrote on drone metal for their PHD thesis.
This thesis analyses mystical discourse in drone metal music. Drone metal is a radically
slowed and extended form of extreme metal music featuring lengthy expanses of
monotonously repeated riffs and heavily distorted and amplified dirge-like noise.
References to mysticism and reports of mystical experience are prevalent in the musical
culture. Mysticism, in my approach influenced by the work of Michel de Certeau, is
understood as a tradition constituted by inextricable and ongoing reception and production
of text and experience. Analysing information from participant observation, survey
responses, ethnographic interviews, sonic and material culture, and online discourse, I
discuss the discursive culture of drone metal in which musical experiences are understood
in relation to mysticism. I examine the translocal and marginal formation of drone metal as
a genre, tracing the experiential as well as sonic characteristics with which listeners draw
similarities between music. I show how drone metal listening is reported in terms of
imaginative temporal, spatial and bodily ‘elsewheres’, combining in the trope of pilgrimage.
Elsewheres are evoked in both thematic content and in rhetoric, and I examine the
constant shifts in linguistic performance of musical discourse, suggesting that listeners
make space in which to explore religiosity and mysticism in musical experience through
maintaining ambivalence about such concepts and their relation to drone metal. I examine
the importance of amplification, distortion and materiality, a tendency which is evident in
the centrality of amplifiers, physical music media, and bodily experience of vibration. I then
investigate the language of violence in listener descriptions of ritual, observing the
importance of violence in constructing powerful experience. Finally, I discuss each element
of drone metal culture in terms of Certeau’s work, showing that for participants, drone
metal is a tradition of mystical discourse constituted in experience, reception and
production of extreme sound and language.
Contact for a .PFD copy at owen.coggins(at)open.ac.uk