“Sons of Northern Darkness”: Heathen Influences in Black Metal and Neofolk Music1

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Abstract

The focus of this article is on the influence of heathenism on popular music, specifically on Black Metal and Neofolk. These two genres, or more correctly scenes, are converging — something which is interesting in itself as purely musical similarities are nonexistent. Both scenes are permeated by heathen notions, and have the ability to function as “cultural systems” providing sets of ideology, meanings, and practices for their adherents. Thus, they comprise more than simply “musical styles.” The appeal of heathenism in these scenes can be explained by its status as non-mainstream exotic rejected knowledge, which makes it attractive in the quest for authenticity and rebellion inherent in rock music. At the same time it is precisely the inclusion of heathen elements which provides the possibility to construct meaning systems that can sustain a coherent cultural complex.

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