“Load Every Rift”: Power, Opposition, and Community in Romantic Poetry and Heavy Metal

Journal article

Davis, A. and Sangster, M. 2023. “Load Every Rift”: Power, Opposition, and Community in Romantic Poetry and Heavy Metal. European Romantic Review. 34 (3), pp. 291-302. https://doi.org/10.1080/10509585.2023.2205079
AuthorsDavis, A. and Sangster, M.

This essay discusses ideas presented on the Romanticism and Metal Studies panels at BARS/NASSR 2022, surveying the transdisciplinary field of Metal Studies and exploring metal’s Romantic inheritances by reading the poetry of canonical Romantics—including John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth—alongside and against metal music and culture. In the spirit of New Romanticisms, our argument contributes to James Rovira’s recent identification of rock and metal as modern Romanticisms, adding that Romanticism and heavy metal are both aesthetic categories that signify power. Romanticism and metal are anachronistic modes that share a proclivity for hybridizing form and genre and for mixing high and low styles. A pairing of Shelley’s elegy for Keats, Adonais, with Pantera’s elegiac ballad “Cemetery Gates” underscores the themes of communion, opposition, and power that drive this essay. While power is an obsession that unites metal and Romanticism, some of their models of communication and community resist straightforward alignment. Archetypal Romantic transmissions in the Wordsworthian vein are imagined to be powerful direct communications from an inspired author to a hushed reader. Metal’s models of transmission are often messier, more various, more communal, more directly oppositional, and considerably nosier.

KeywordsRomanticism and Metal Studies ; Romantic poetry ; Archetypal Romantic transmissions
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Journal citation34 (3), pp. 291-302
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/10509585.2023.2205079
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/10509585.2023.2205079
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online24 May 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted27 Mar 2023
Deposited05 Jun 2023
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ERR34.3.05 Davis and Sangster.pdf
License: CC BY-NC 4.0
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