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Mater omnium and the cosmic womb of the abyss: Nomadic interiorities and matrifocal black metal performance

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Masciandaro’s notion of ‘the cosmic womb of the abyss’ (2010: 83) in black metal theory, suggests a foregrounding of a matrifocal position cosseted and restrained within the patriarchal frame of black metal that at once, performs against it and from within it. The overt masculinity of this subgenre, of metal and popular music structures and the wider sociocultural metanarrative, means that for a woman to occupy space within black metal, she has to identify the cosmic womb as her own. The process that subsequently unfolds is a subjective self-embodied analysis that, through interpretive performance autoethnography, develops a critical understanding of women and their relationship to black metal. This produces the notion of woman as the female nomad, as Winterson notes, whose inability to feel comfortable in her own body means that she is mediated through patriarchal structures and her home is denied her. Through interpretive performance autoethnography, that sense of home, of the occupation of her interiorities, becomes a tangible active performance; the abyssic void becomes arrested by female black metal performance, and the mater omnium ceases her nomadic journey and finds release. This article seeks to analyse female black metal performance through interpretive performance autoethnography. As the guitarist and front woman with the avant-garde black metal band Denigrata, my involvement has meant that the journey to find my home rests within the blackened heart of musical performance. Interpretive performance autoethnography provides the analytical frame through which the cosmic womb of the abyss becomes manifest in Denigrata’s music and art objects. This process identifies and actualizes Creed’s archaic mother, exceeding the mystical, all-powerful feminine divine and making her, through black metal performance, wholly human.
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Keywords: abjection; black metal; feminism; jouissance; subjectivity; sublime alienation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Northampton

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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