Valhalla Rising: The Construction of Cultural Identity through Norse Myth in Scandinavian and German Pagan Metal
By Irina-Maria Manea
PhD Dissertation, University of Bucharest, 2016
Introduction: What happens when the electric guitar meets Thor’s hammer? The effect might be quite bombastic and trigger a sensation of empowerment and enchantment capable of temporarily relocating us to some imaginary places and eldritch times that could cathartically fill up an imagined identity. Metal music is an enormously rich and challenging cultural phenomenon, which has been captivating me for some years and where many times I found solace and an expression of my own emotions.
Equally fascinating I find the distant past, with all its aura of mystique and exoticism – ‘the past is a foreign country’, as the saying goes. What I am writing about in this paper is somehow a compromise between the two, focused on an intriguing and dynamic stylistic trend in metal culture, which is to use Pagan histories as source of inspiration for the lyrics and images of the bands. One vital preliminary remark would be that when such bands aesthetically instrument the past and play with nostalgic reimaginings of history and heritage, they weave a personalized cultural narrative that corresponds to a symbolic collectivity and cultural memory.