‘Feel the Knife Pierce You Intensely’: Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’—Holocaust Representation or Metal Affects?

Williams, Dominic (2019) ‘Feel the Knife Pierce You Intensely’: Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’—Holocaust Representation or Metal Affects? Genealogy, 3 (4). p. 61. ISSN 2313-5778

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040061


This article tackles a well-known but little-studied phenomenon: the importance of Holocaust themes to heavy metal. The fascination of metal bands with evil and death has until recently been met outside the scene with such reactions as moral panic, disgust or indifference. In the last ten years, however, scholars in an emerging discourse of Metal Studies have attempted to engage more critically with the social and musical dimensions of metal, in order to contextualise and understand its lyrics and imagery. Although a number of writers have touched upon the recurrence of Holocaust imagery, no one has dealt at any length with extreme metal as a form of Holocaust memory. My article focuses on what might be called the founding text of extreme metal, Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’, which lived up to the sub-genre’s name by pushing both its musical form and its lyrical content beyond previously maintained limits and taboos. It considers the song's mobilisation of affective intensities as involving problematic politics, but also a challenge to conceptions of Holocaust representation. I consider how affects are evoked by ‘Angel of Death’ through offering readings of the song itself as well as of ways that its reception have been recorded on social media, in concert videos, and reaction videos uploaded to YouTube.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Holocaust representation; Holocaust memory; heavy metal music; affect; social media; YouTube; concert videos; reaction videos
Subjects: W300 Music
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2019 16:06
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/41442

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