Black Metal in Turkey: Islamic Semiotics and Subcultural Resistance
Abstract: The most extreme subgenre of metal, black metal, is famous for its anti-Christian and Satanic aesthetics. Violent incidents connected to the formation of the Norwegian black metal scene in the early 1990s, such as Church-burnings, murders, and arsons, would make the genre notorious and solidify the perception that its fans and musicians reject religion. However, since black metal is born out of a Christian cultural context, very few researchers have paid attention to this musical subgenre in Muslim majority societies, and even less attention has been paid to how the Muslim context influences the aesthetical choices of the genre. A few years ago, some black metal bands in Turkey started to do something rarely seen before. Namely, to utilize Islamic semiotic resources in their cultural production, in an anti-Islamic way. Based on an extensive fieldwork, coupled with lyrical and visual analysis, this thesis explores this new relationship between Islam and black metal in Turkey. It seeks to answer the questions of why these expressions occur now, as well as which meanings are ascribed to them by black metal fans and musicians in Turkey. In doing so, the author argues that the increase in references to Islam in Turkish black metal are related to a dialectical relationship with international, as well as national, expectations of subcultural concepts such as authenticity and identity. Furthermore, the author explores the contemporary context of Turkey, which in recent years have undergone major changes in the political and social sphere, especially in relation to religion. The author therefore argues that the newly emerged expressions found within the Turkish black metal scene needs to partly be recognized as a subcultural response and counter hegemonic resistance towards the recent years of political and societal change in Turkey.
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