Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Kendall Phillips

Second Advisor

Theo Cateforis


Authenticity;Black Metal;Music;Sonic Studies;Subculture

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Music


This thesis is an intervention into the world of black metal and the role that authenticity plays within the politics of the subgenre. I explore the evolution and escalation that takes place between the theatrics, the music, and violence committed in the clamoring to be perceived as ‘true’ metal. Throughout my thesis I use a variety of approaches to create a holistic view of black metal as a subgenre and analyze the ways in which it evolved. My primary focus was studying the music itself, paired with lyrics and later subcultural analysis of my selected bands. As a fan and a scholar, I assert that authenticity not only plays a huge role in the politics of music subcultures, but for culture as a whole. In the case of this thesis, the politics of authenticity in the second wave of black metal may have resulted in arson, suicide, and murder and, at the very least, the reports of this behavior served as a foundational mythology for the subgenre since the 1990s. Overall, this thesis contributes to the new ways of studying music, subculture, and sound from a rhetorical perspective to trailblaze a path for future scholars in rhetorical, metal music, and sound studies.


Open Access

Included in

Music Commons



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