'Heavy Metal Has Become the Unlikely Soundtrack of Globalization'

The connection between economic development and heavy metal music.


Credit: White House /

"Heavy metal has become the unlikely soundtrack of globalization." So writes Wall Street Journal reporter Neil Shah at the start of a fascinating article detailing the international appeal, both commercial and cultural, of "loud guitars, growling vocals and ultrafast 'blast' beats." Heavy metal, Shah argues, is now the gold standard when it comes to true "world music." How did it happen and what does it mean? Here's a snippet from the story:

Indonesia is a metal hotbed: Its president, Joko Widodo, wears Metallica and Napalm Death T-shirts. Metal scenes flourish in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia. China got an early seeding of metal 25 years ago when U.S. record companies dumped unsold CDs there. In a male-dominated genre, Russian band Arkona is fronted by singer Maria Arkhipova. Language barriers are less significant in the metal world, which is all about the sound, an often dissonant drone not grounded in any one musical tradition.

The explosion of local bands around the world tends to track rising living standards and Internet use. Making loud music is expensive: You need electric guitars, amplifiers, speakers, music venues and more leisure time.

"When economic development happens, metal scenes appear. They're like mushrooms after the rain," says Roy Doron, an African history professor at Winston-Salem State University.

Read the whole story here.

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