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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

d) Heavy metal medievalisms: a matter of identity?

1) The Middle Ages as identity marker in heavy metal: the Spanish case

Amaranta Saguar

Texte intégral

1Medievalism is not alien to heavy metal music. It is actually a prominent feature of two of its most successful subgenres, power metal and pagan metal, and it recurs in the aesthetics and the lyrics of most classical heavy metal bands. Warriors, knights, sorcerers, minstrels, and the whole cast of contemporary popular medievalising literature and cinema alternate with Germanic mythology, traditional ballads, epic poetry, Crusaders, Vikings, and many other supposedly more historical topics. The reasons behind this fascination of heavy metal for the Middle Ages are not understudied, celebratory masculinity and a longing for a simpler, nobler, and more fulfilling lifestyle being the most cited causes. However, these two motives do not explain the apparent urge to naturalise the Middle Ages that can be felt nowadays. Bands move away from the generic medievalism of the old days and colour it with their own regional medieval cultural heritage. This paper explores the naturalisation process of heavy metal medievalism and its consequences through a case study of Spanish bands. First, it determines which aspects of the Hispanic medieval cultural heritage are vindicated and why. Second, it analyses how they are received within Spanish society and abroad. Last, it reads the conclusions of both previous sections against the background of the current problematic of the appropriation of the Middle Ages by nationalistic and racist far-right groups—that is, the creation of a “Western male white identity.”


Universidad Complutense de Madrid

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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