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Let there be rock: ‘Western’ heavy metal in Soviet press and public opinion during the Soviet Union’s final decade

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In recent years, heavy metal music and its fans have received heightened consideration from the academic community, not only from a cultural perspective but also from a social, psychological and cultural standpoint; yet metal’s role as a valid political force remains largely overlooked by academics and critics alike. As a counter-cultural movement, heavy metal was instrumental in altering the political world-view of an entire generation of Eastern European youngsters during the final decades of the Cold War, which reflected in the younger generation’s resistance to the domination of Communist ideology. As a first-hand witness and participant of these cultural, political and social transformations, I chose to explore the role of metal counter-culture’s depiction in – and its interaction with – the Soviet press during the final decade of the USSR’s existence, in an attempt to highlight the evolution of metal’s underground status behind the Iron Curtain.
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Keywords: Cold War; USSR; heavy metal; music; popular culture; print media; propaganda; public opinion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Felician University

Publication date: 01 September 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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