Associate professor writes books on heavy metal

Holly Shively and Holly Shively

Associate Professor Jeremy Wallach isn’t the typical run-of-the-mill staff member here at the University.

He’s an ethnomusicologist, which means he’s an anthropologist who studies music. When visiting his website, jeremywallach.com, one can find that he’s a well-known author and editor of books regarding heavy metal music.

An article on deathmetal.org discussed how Wallach got his name noticed worldwide by studying heavy metal before it was cool. In an interview with the website, Wallach shared that he listened to rock in high school and was drawn to the heaviest of the rock songs, which eventually lead him to loving metal.

“I’m about as old as heavy metal,” Wallach said. “Most people date the official beginning to the first Black Sabbath Album. Most people involved in the studies are about my age.”

Wallach officially got his start studying heavy metal when he went to Indonesia and discovered how popular heavy metal was there.

“I realized that nobody knew about this at home,” Wallach said. This lead to his first book “Modern Noise, Fluid Genres: Popular Music in Indonesia.”

In 2008 Wallach attended a conference about heavy metal in Austria, where metal studies was born as an academic discipline and has exploded since.

According to metalrulestheglobe.com, Wallach’s book Metal Rules the Globe is a compilation of academic essays about heavy metal, which he co-edited with two others. The book talks about the growth of metal across the world and looks into why the music attracts so many fans when it has been censored and ridiculed by many others.

In an interview with The Eastern Voice, Wallach said, “Often the music is targeted because it is seen as a threat to social order instead of as a response to already existing social tensions; in other words, it makes a convenient scapegoat.”

“There didn’t seem like any real possibility with getting away with studying this,” Wallach said. However, after 11 years at the University and even more spent studying metal, Wallach has become involved in the cross-cultural phenomenon pretty centrally.

Wallach said that being in the Department of Popular Culture is one of, and maybe the only way, of getting away with studying heavy metal.

“We study things that other people aren’t brave enough to study,” he said.

As far as teaching at the University, Wallach’s favorite class is Dinosaur and Popular Culture. He shared that he will be teaching it next semester for the first time in four years and would love to fill the class.

Dr. Wallach and his office mate Dr. Clinton are working on a book that looks at metal race and ethnicity. It is also an edited volume, a lot like his second book Metal Rules the Globe. Dr. Jeremy Wallach is also working on two essays. The first discusses metal and politics and power, and the second involves the rituals of fandom and how important it is for fans of metal to get together to discuss the music.