Metal Studies in Central/Eastern Europe – 1st (online) workshop

Metal Studies in Central/Eastern Europe: 

1st (online) workshop

8th December 2021

Several months ago, the network “Metal Studies in Central/Eastern Europe” was established. The idea was to connect individual scholars interested in metal studies in the CEE region together and also to create a platform for closer collaboration.

“Metal Studies in Central/Eastern Europe” organizes its first (online) workshop.

Focus areas of the workshop: 

1) development, current status, situation, and prospects of metal studies in CEE
2) current/previous research of CEE scholars interested in metal studies
3) metal scenes in CEE
4) specifics of CEE metal considering communist and post-communist history
5) religion and metal in individual CEE countries


Keynote speaker:

Karl Spracklen

Karl Spracklen is a Professor of Sociology of Leisure and Culture in Leeds School of Sciences at Leeds Beckett University. He was promoted in 2011 to a Professor of Leisure Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University (the former name of Leeds Beckett University), which recognised his growing international profile, his research and his leadership. He has remained a Professor for ten years while moving into Music and then Social Sciences. This last internal move was a promotion to lead and be the Director of Research for two Research Excellence Framework (REF) Units: Social Work and Social Policy; and Politics and International Studies. Spracklen’s research ranges across leisure studies, popular music studies and metal music studies, though with a sociological lens. He is interested especially in inequalities, as his latest monograph Metal Music and the Re-imagining of Masculinity, Place, Race and Nation, shows. Most of his research is empirical, exploring meaning through tracing human interactions, though some of his work is theoretical. Spracklen is driven by inter-disciplinarity, and all his work is grounded in history and philosophy. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief and the founder of International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure, published by Springer. He has been the Chair of the Leisure Studies Association, is currently the Secretary of the Research Committee 13 (Sociology of Leisure) of the International Sociological Association, and has a global profile in leisure studies. His three monographs on leisure theory have been widely cited, and were assessed at 3 to 4 star in REF 2014. In metal music studies, Spracklen was the co-founder of the International Society for Metal Music Studies, and was the co-founder and first editor of its journal Metal Music Studies, published by Intellect. He has attended a number of conferences in metal music studies as a keynote speaker, and retains a global profile in the subject field. Spracklen is incredibly prolific and has written eight monographs, forty-seven papers, forty chapters and eleven edited collections. In the latest REF period he had forty-nine eligible outputs.


(Central European Time) 



Workshop opening



Keynote lecture

Professor Karl Spracklen

Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom

The Genesis and Evolution of Metal Music Studies

In the 1990s, serious academic research on metal music studies was as unpopular as heavy metal itself. Psychologists dismissed metal fans for their violent tendencies, critics in the press mocked metal for being stupid music for stupid people, and musicologists such as Walser believed metal music was some kind of cultural devolution. Only a few sociologists such as Weinstein and Gaines made the case for metal – as a subject of academic study: as community, as meaning and purpose, as space for fun populated by intelligent humans. In the 2000s, a small number of academics labouring away in their own universities to convince others of the importance of metal started to grow aware of each other’s existence. Most of these scholars were brought together by progressive rebels Rob Fisher and Niall Scott at the first inter-disciplinary conference on metal, music and politics in Salzburg. From this first conference came the stimulus that grew metal music studies – proud to advocate for heavy metal, determined to be inter-disciplinary – fighting the corner for PhD students around the world who suddenly had a space to share their research. These days, metal music studies the subject field is everywhere – in its own conferences, its own academic journals and books, and is increasingly visible and legitimate in academia globally. In this keynote, as one of the co-founders of the International Society for Metal Music Studies and the first Principal Editor of the journal Metal Music Studies, I will trace that growth and attempt to predict the future of metal music studies.






Miroslav Vrzal, Ph.D.

Masaryk University, Czechia

Czech Metal Studies: Overview, Challenges, Perspectives

A great boom of metal studies in Western Europe is gradually beginning to resonate in the Czech Republic as well. The paper will deal with the situation of Czech academic research on metal and its further prospects. The first part will briefly present an overview of previous scholarly interest in the Czech Republic dealing with metal. In the second part of the paper the current challenges for academic study of metal in the Czech Republic will be discussed, as well as a new emerging network of researchers aiming at the academic study of metal in the Czech Republic, Czech Metal Studies.



Mgr. Michal Puchovský

Masaryk University, Czechia 

Pagan metal in Czech Republic: An Introduction

The academic study of music in Czech Republic is dominated by people interested in classical music. Little interest was invested in the examination of other genres of music, but the field is slowly changing with a new generation of researchers. Czech Metal Studies started to focus on the connection of metal and religion, but so far they studied mostly the connection between Satanism and occultism with black metal and dark aesthetics. The paper will discuss the current state of Czech Pagan metal scene, the major trends and the connections to the local Neopagan scene focusing on the construction of “pagan” discourse in the context of Czech Republic. Following presentation is a small part of the currently written dissertation thesis about Czech Pagan music scene and the construction of Pagan discourses.



Mgr. Vojtěch Volák

Charles University, Czechia

Heaviness: Key Concept of Metal Music Through Lenses of Deleuzian Philosophy

Heaviness is one of the main sensations experienced by listeners of metal music. This concept has been significantly neglected by academia, even though it is often used to describe the characteristics of metal music. The effort to define this concept appeared in a few works dealing with this topic and often the definitions were very different. This paper, which is based on my master’s thesis, seeks to find a common point of these definitions and to link them through this point. To achieve this goal, we use the philosophical concepts of Gilles Deleuze, which provide us with productive tools to describe this phenomenon.






Ondřej Daniel, Ph.D.

Charles University, Czechia, mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts, Austria

Metal Denim Jacket: Fans through the Lens of Material and Immaterial Culture

In this paper I aim to discuss possibilities of studying audiences focusing on a particular DIY practice of creating one’s own Metal Denim Jacket with badges and patches of favourite bands. Such an approach needs to question not only discursive practices around particular choices of references but also the accessibility of metal memorabilia or their creation by self-help. A seemingly classless and easily recognizable Metal Denim Jacket is nevertheless far from becoming a uniform, even if in some periods of heavy metal history in Central/Eastern Europe these artefacts became highly standardized.



Reinhard Kopanski, Ph.D. 

Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany

German Metal Studies: (Inter-)National challenges

In German research (and particularly in traditional musicology), metal remained largely overlooked for a substantial portion of its early history. If the genre was subject to academic inquiry whatsoever, it was most often viewed as “primitive” music for problematic youths – regardless of the, even then, objectionable validity of such assessments, not to mention the emergence of initial differentiated scientific discussions on metal in Germany in the late 1990s (e.g., Roccor 1998). More than twenty years later, the music and culture of metal in its complex entirety is an integral part of German academic research. So much so, that in addition to regular conferences (e.g. the Hard Wired series), the vast number of German-language publications on metal is nigh impossible to oversee. Nevertheless, major challenges remain in both local and global contexts: the former represented by the narrow reception of research findings beyond academic contexts, whilst the latter observable in German-language research’s limited acknowledgement internationally. My contribution’s aim is thus not on offering ‘solutions’, but rather on presenting an overview of current academic landscape, its current primary inquiries and major contributions left unnoticed by wider academic and journalistic discourse. Although I limit myself to German-language research, the challenges of German academic research’s reception are applicable to other language areas. In doing so, I hope to foster a constructive dialogue with international researchers. References Roccor, Bettina (1998): Heavy Metal: die Bands, die Fans, die Gegner. München: Beck.



Jakub Kosek, Ph.D.

Pedagogical University of Cracow, Poland

Polish Metal Music Studies. Current state of research and future directions

The aim of the paper will be primarily to discuss the history and state of research of polish metal music studies and their relationship with academic research on rock music culture(s). The challenges, problems and directions of development of metal music studies in Poland will be discussed. In addition, the lecture will also be an invitation to a publication project on the methods and perspectives of research on metal music culture(s) in Central / Eastern Europe.






Mgr. Karolina Karbownik

SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland

Black Metal Guarding the Folk Culture. Rituals, Symbols and Gestures in the Work of Batushka

One of the factors that shaped Western culture is the Christian tradition however nowadays it looks different within the urban areas and in less-developed regions. An example is the Orthodox Church strongly associated with Eastern Europe, dominating in the border regions of Poland. In the eyes of the villagers’ faith and religion are the main factors that influence folk culture. In the countryside life is associated with the seasons; all activities (also artistic) are subordinated to nature. Folk art is still visible as a medium that satisfies almost all the needs of the rural population: from worship and religion to everyday life. Folk culture associated with Orthodoxy has become an inspiration in the creation and work of the black metal band Batushka. In my presentation, I would like to pay special attention to the relationship between the folk culture of the eastern regions of Poland and black metal performed by Batushka. I try to characterize the original themes taken from the Orthodox culture that are present in Batushk’s work and to see what forms they take in black metal. Also I analyze how symbols, rituals and gestures taken from the Orthodox Church and placed in a new context can be a continuation of the disappearing authentic folk culture, and also become another factor that hinders the definition of black metal music. This analysis is based on own interviews with team members as well as anthropological and ethnographic research conducted in rural areas in eastern Poland. At the same time, I would like to draw attention to the little scientific interest of the Orthodox tradition in metal studies.



János Fejes, Ph.D.

Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary

“Mythological Occult Metal” – Towards a Quantitative Understanding of Mythology Driven Metal Lyrics

The connection between mythologies and metal lyrics is an obvious commonplace today amongst metal fans and metal scholars alike. In the recent years since the public defense of my PhD thesis, which was about a qualitative analysis of different mythologies’ reception in metal lyrics, I finally arrived to the need to understand the phenomenon in a big scale. During the last two years I have compiled a database of mythology driven metal lyrics focusing on Viking, Celtic, Hellenic, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Old Testament-related mythological stories. In my presentation I would like to introduce the audience to my database and the possible quantitative analysis of it which is going to provide the backbone of my volume in progress. This would include the possible classification methods gathering around the mythological topics and methods of reception, with some case studies to represent the “in action” side of the usage of the database.



Round table: Metal Studies in CEE challenges, next steps

MS CEE internl session.

Facebook event:

Metal Studies in Central/Eastern Europe: 1st (online) workshop | Facebook

Organizational bodies:

Department for the Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Czech Metal Studies


Dr. Miroslav Vrzal

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