Metal music as critical dystopia : humans, technology and the future in 1990s science fiction metal
Popular Culture Program
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Metal Music as Critical Dystopia: Humans, Technology and the Future in 1990s Science Fiction Metal seeks to demonstrate that the dystopian elements in metal music are not merely or necessarily a sonic celebration of disaster. Rather, metal music's fascination with dystopian imagery is often critical in intent, borrowing themes and imagery from other literary and cinematic traditions in an effort to express a form of social commentary. The artists and musical works examined in this thesis maintain strong ties with the science fiction genre, in particular, and tum to science fiction conventions in order to examine the long-term implications of humanity's complex relationship with advanced technology. Situating metal's engagements with science fiction in relation to a broader practice of blending science fiction and popular music and to the technophobic tradition in writing and film, this thesis analyzes the works of two science fiction metal bands, VOlvod and Fear Factory, and provides close readings of four futuristic albums from the mid to late 1990s that address humanity's relationship with advanced technology in musical and visual imagery as well as lyrics. These recorded texts, described here as cyber metal for their preoccupation with technology in subject matter and in sound, represent prime examples of the critical dystopia in metal music. While these albums identify contemporary problems as the root bf devastation yet to come, their musical narratives leave room for the possibility of hope , allowing for the chance that dystopia is not our inevitable future.