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3- Female-Fronted Heavy Metal: Agency, Performativity, and Empowerment - Lori A. Burns, University of Ottawa

1:30 PM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)
In recent years, heavy metal has opened up space for “female-fronted metal,” a domain that is treated as a genre itself, even though the artists work in a range of metal subgenres. The acclaimed vocalists of this domain are frequently invited to collaborate as guests with melodically-driven metal bands. Floor Jansen (After Forever; ReVamp; Nightwish), Simone Simons (Epica), Anneke von Giersbergen (The Gathering), Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist; Arch Enemy) and Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) are five exemplary vocalists who are celebrated for their powerful vocals and creative contributions. This paper examines the following music video collaborations from the genre of progressive metal: Jansen in Evergrey’s ‘In Orbit” (The Storm Within, 2016); Simons and Jansen in Ayreon’s ‘All That Was’ (The Source, 2017); and von Giersbergen in Amorphis’s ‘Amongst Stars’ (Queen of Time, 2018).

My aim is to reveal how the artists inject their own style into the sonic-visual world of the band, posing a number of questions: What degree of performative empowerment is attributed to the guest vocalist? How does her sonic and visual style impact upon and contribute to song expression and meaning? What strategies and ideologies are at play in the representation of gendered and sexualized subjectivities? For this analysis, I will mobilize the concept of “cotextuality” (Burns, Dubuc & Lafrance 2010) to consider the coexistence and interaction of the discursive attributes of the female artist’s text within the host text of the band. The approach responds to writings on gender and sexuality in metal (e.g, Walser 1993; Weinstein 2000; Heesch & Scott 2016; Berkers & Schaap 2018).

University of Ottawa
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