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Finally getting out of the maze: Understanding the narrative structure of extreme metal through a study of ‘Mad Architect’ by Septicflesh

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Many academics assume that extreme metal music cannot be identified to an understandable narrative, because of the difficulty to perceive the lyrics and the poor harmonic and melodic structure. The author of this paper demonstrates the opposite, using a methodology called narratology, derived from literary studies and musicology. She analyses the song ‘Mad Architect’ from symphonic death metal group Septicflesh (2011), which narrates the alienation felt by a protagonist who thinks that he is lost in a maze before he realizes that this maze is actually a construction of his mind. The specific narrative of the song, which evokes the madness and the alienation felt by the protagonist, will be better understood by analysing jointly the lyrics (using narratological parameters being the time, the modality and the voice of the narrative) and the musical parameters (namely harmony, melody, vocal timbre or sound technology).
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Keywords: analysis; extreme metal; madness; narrative musicology; narratology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Université Laval

Publication date: March 1, 2016

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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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