MHM Conference, Helsinki

I’ve written about the metal scene in Botswana before for this blog, and last week I was very lucky to present my thoughts to an audience of metal scholars at the Modern Heavy Metal conference in the very metal city of Helsinki Finland.

The view of Helsinki from the plane as you approach the airport is cool – it’s mostly parks and forest areas all around. Not what I expected from a capital city, though all this green land explains how the hares that are Helsinki’s main pest animal are able to live in the city. At least it’s a cuter problem than rats or feral cats or wild dogs.

The conference’s opening evening featured a speech by guitarist Alexander Skolnick of the band Testament – though not working in metal academia himself, he’s a man with a lot of interesting things to say about metal and metal studies, and his own commitment to learning and scholarship is clear. He undertook a degree in jazz performance and started a second career as a jazz guitarist and bandleader, after already being hugely successful in Testament.

Continue reading

Festival Report – Brutal Assault, 7-10 August, Jaromeř, Czech Republic,

Okay guys, this is going to be a long one. It’s mostly going to be a list of bands I saw at Brutal Assault last week, brief reviews of their sets, and assorted observations about the festival and the Czech Republic. If you’re not fully sure what grindcore is or how it’s different to death metal, you may want to skip this one.

Or better yet, keep reading! Every day is a school day!

If you want to skip ahead to the bits where I say nice things, the highlights for me were: Carcass, Dying Fetus, Gojira, Ihsahn, In Flames, and Meshuggah; and standout new discoveries were Alcest, Dr. Living Dead, Leprous, and War from a Harlot’s Mouth. Continue reading