Embodying the Auschwitz Sonderkommando in Extreme Metal

Williams, Dominic (2020) Embodying the Auschwitz Sonderkommando in Extreme Metal. Metal Music Studies, 6 (3). pp. 319-336. ISSN 2052-3998

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1386/mms_00021_1


Prompted by the Meads of Asphodel album Sonderkommando (2013), this article considers ways in which the Auschwitz Sonderkommando (SK) figure in extreme metal. While there are not many metal songs about the SK, they feature far more in metal lyrics than in almost all other music genres. Attracted by obscure and difficult parts of history, metal bands draw on their practices to ‘embody’ the SK: not simply representing them, but feeling and acting out their plight to excess. The article examines a number of these practices: difficult to decipher vocals, the use of global Englishes and a bookish attraction to the arcane and the bizarre. It argues that metal’s embrace of intense feeling in the lyrics and vocal and musical styles can be interpreted as an exploration of embodiment and materiality, allowing a consideration of mediation, the matter through which the SK might be felt and understood. Embodying the SK in metal, then, does not merely comprise an eccentric example of Holocaust memory at work, but takes on central issues of Holocaust representation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sonderkommando, Holocaust representation, extreme metal, embodiment, opacity, unintelligible lyrics, translingual practice, Meads of Asphodel
Subjects: W300 Music
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2020 08:53
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2021 03:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/44008

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