Death metal is one of popular
music's most extreme variants, and is typically viewed as almost monolithically nihilistic, misogynistic, and reactionary. Michelle Phillipov's Death Metal and Music Criticism: Analysis at the Limits offers an account of listening pleasure on its own terms. Through
an analysis of death metal's sonic and lyrical extremity, Phillipov shows how violence and aggression can be configured as sites for pleasure and play in death metal music, with little relation to the "real" lives of listeners
. In some cases, gruesome lyrical themes and fractured song forms invite listeners to imagine new experiences of the body and of the self. In others, the speed and complexity of the music foster a "technical" or distanced
appreciation akin to the viewing experiences of graphic horror film fans. These aspects of death metal listening are often neglected by scholarly accounts concerned with evaluating music as either 'progressive' or "reactionary." By...