Sunday 16 December 2018

Heavy metal 'mosh pits' ape ancient tribes' rites

Lindsay Bishop, a researcher, has spent 10 years studying heavy metal, the loud, pounding style of music that has grown from early followers of the band Black Sabbath in Birmingham into a worldwide culture with millions of fans in almost every country. Photo: PA
Lindsay Bishop, a researcher, has spent 10 years studying heavy metal, the loud, pounding style of music that has grown from early followers of the band Black Sabbath in Birmingham into a worldwide culture with millions of fans in almost every country. Photo: PA

Charles Hymas

Heavy metal fans have evolved to communicate with each other like remote tribes in Papua New Guinea, a study by anthropologists has found.

They have rules for behaviour in the front-of-stage "mosh pit" that are passed down by "elders", there are gift-sharing rituals at concerts and dark cathartic music, which mirror rites among Papuan tribes that have changed little in 40,000 years.

Lindsay Bishop, a researcher, has spent 10 years studying heavy metal, the loud, pounding style of music that has grown from early followers of the band Black Sabbath in Birmingham into a worldwide culture with millions of fans in almost every country.

Ms Bishop, of University College London, said her research demonstrated how fundamental were some tenets of our humanity: "It recognises this completely alien culture of mosh pits, heavy metal music and rituals links into this indigenous clan living in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea."

Heavy metal was also no longer "angry white males" but culturally inclusive, she said. A third of its followers were female, with all-women groups of fans such as the Botswana Queens. Involvement was transgenerational, with fathers and grandfathers passing on the etiquette of the "mosh pit".

Older generations taught the etiquette while newcomers learned "moshing" was not a fight but a way to release tension and often create lasting bonds with people,

Irish Independent

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