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Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music (Music/Culture)
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Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music (Music/Culture)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A Choice Outstanding Academic Book.

A musicologist and cultural critic as well as a professional musician, Robert Walser offers a comprehensive musical, social, and cultural analysis of heavy metal in Running with the Devil. Dismissed by critics and academics, condemned by parents and politicians, fervently embraced by legions of fans, heavy metal music attracts and embodie
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 31st 1993 by Wesleyan University Press (first published January 1st 1993)
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3.78  · 
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 ·  180 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Mark Martin
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a pioneering account of the cultural importance of heavy metal by an eminent musicologist and cultural critic, formerly one of my professors at UCLA, now at Case Western Reserve University. This book is a reworking of Walser's doctoral dissertation. Though Walser covers the history and origins of metal in the late 60s and early 70s, this book is not primarily a history. Rather, it is a critical interpretation of metal's cultural significance. Walser's writing style is exemplary in its cl ...more
Ian Vance
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
ten dollar words about power chords.
Michal Puchovský
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Zatiaľ asi najlepšia vedecká kniha o metale, ktorú som čítal. Vhodne kombinuje diskurzívnu a žanrovú analýzu. A na rozdiel od D.Weinstein a do určitej miery aj Kahna-Harrisa sa muzikologicky vybrané metalové piesne. Jeho závery sú dobre podložené zo všetkých strán.
Theophilo Pinto
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Uma das coisas que eu gosto em livros é ver seus autores colocando ideias e fatos de modo criativo ou inesperado. Por exemplo, li um tempo atrás que em 1964, quando os Beatles perderam o 1º lugar nas paradas americanas, foi para Hello, Dolly, de Louis Armstrong, então com 62 anos. Boa informação pra começar uma discussão sobre ‘boa música’... Esses mesmos Beatles mantiveram um recorde de público sendo uma banda estrangeira em solo americano. Foram superados pelo Led Zeppelin, em 1973. E se você ...more
Simon Mcleish
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in October 1999.

Heavy metal music is a strange phenomenon. Despite derision from rock critics and bitter emnity from the establishment, it became one of the most popular subcultures of the eighties, when it and rap changed mainstream popular music indelibly. Such a phenomenon is clearly a gift to cultural studies. Running With the Devil is a sympathetic examination of heavy metal, looking at its history, defining musical characteristics, examining its appeal
Robb Bridson
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent scholarly work on the subject of heavy metal. This book uses musicology, music theory, sociology, and critical theory to blow away opponents of metal and to essentially build something like a cultural theory of metal.
To the metalhead, this book makes a lot of what you already know more tangible, from the emptiness of elitist critiques to the genius of the great works of metal, without glossing over some of the real cultural problems within metal (such as acting as a conduit of patriarc
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sadly not as much critical theory as I had hoped for but an excellent analysis of heavy metal. The book adequately addresses heavy metal as a whole from within and provides truly insightful analysis of quite a few different bands. Walser analyzes everything from videos, lyrics, musical notes to shifts in tempo to create an in-depth critique of the music. Sadly, the book is limited in scope. Addressing only a few themes and due to it's time written it doesn't address anything past 1990. An accoun ...more
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
thought-provoking (but VERY academic) look at heavy metal culture from 1970's to the 1980's. not being a trained musician, i did have some difficulty following the more technical passages regarding music theory. Despite this, i still found Walser's arguments to be lively and ultimately engaging, if not somewhat dated giving the genre's evolution over the past two decades. even for those who aren't necessarily fans of heavy metal, but are interested in culture and the impact music has on the form ...more
Michael Curtis
Dec 27, 2015 rated it liked it
There are not many academic theory books about metal style so this is a welcome rarity. But, the book sometimes borders on hagiography. The theory portion is maybe drawn out a little too thin, perhaps too limited in scope. Mostly about guitarists like Randy Rhoads, and could summarized as "they preferred Bach and Vivaldi to Handle and Mozart." This is not much of a revelation. The academic form of the book seems mostly an attempt to validate metal as a genre. Personally, I found the Vitamin Stri ...more
Tiny Pants
This is one of my favorite books ever. I first read it in 1998 or 1999, but I remember reading the review of it in Rolling Stone in 1993 when it came out (since RS are morons, they didn't totally love it). The author is a musicologist at UCLA, he was mostly working at Dartmouth when he was writing this though. He is the man! I'd like to meet him, but I'd prob either freak out or nerd out, like correcting him that when he says a KISS song is playing on the radio in the beginning of a Poison video ...more
Dec 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Walser's book is an early attempt to garner some academic credibility for the study of HM. It is, however, woefully lacking in several respects, and underlines the difficulties of crossing the boundaries between academia and pop-culture. In particular, Walser's analysis is strangely behind the times, in that he focuses on musicians and acts who for the most part were well past their heyday of relevance by 1990 (the publishing date of the book). Interesting in its musicology-driven analysis of th ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I miss analysis like this when it comes to popular music, most specially Metal. I still have just so much to learn about musical theory, but this was a really nice place to start when it comes to knowing what really makes the heavy metal sound. Highly recommended to those who like this music and those who dislike this musical genre, as well. I wish Walser would write another book, this time on extreme (Black and Death) Metal.
Sarah Beaudoin
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a nice overview of the history of 1980s metal, and it specifically seeks to draw links between metal and classical music. I think at times Walser tries to legitimize heavy metal by focusing on this connection (which I find problematic), but over all this is an easily read scholarly attempt at understanding the sociological components of heavy metal as a genre.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: extreme
This book is MONOLITHIC. Focuses mostly on Classic Heavy Metal and Glam Metal, Extreme Metal and even Thrash Metal are passing references. Gets heavy handed with the marxist references, but it's mostly a good book.
Apr 14, 2008 marked it as to-read
God this sounds good. I think Byron might want to check this out too...
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If you think Heavy Metal is mindless and crass, read this book. Written by a musicologist, this book is a must read for heavy metal fan and detractor alike.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the canonic studies on Heavy Metal music
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
cheese metal? hell no! it's van halen!
read for an essay on gender identity & music
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