METAL – A symposium to celebrate and explore the West Midlands musical heritage.

Probably the most maligned musical genre of all time. The term itself
seems to have developed as a critical putdown of the sound and the
players making it. Loud, brash, unapologetic, energetic and
unconcerned with subtlety, taste and gentility. Yet a genre which over
its forty-year history has steadily crept its way into the mainstream,
securing worldwide domination and branching off into myriad
labyrinthine offshoots along its merry way.

It is no coincidence that many of these subgenres, and indeed, most
would argue the actual genesis itself, developed here in the Black
Country of the Midlands. It is not a unique phenomenon that youth
culture springs forth from working class industrial areas (the birth
of everything from the Blues and Country to Hip Hop came from the
fields, factories and streets), but the particular character cited by
the pioneers of Metal in the Midlands seems to run parallel to the
conditions and heritage of this distinct area – its talk of grimness
and social depravation an echo of the images painted by Dickens et al
in the nineteenth century. The history and environment providing the
backbone for not only the mood of the music, but the impetus to play
it in the first place.

In this symposium we hope to bring you a little of this rich local
history with speakers who were actually hands-on involved in its birth
and development. We also hope to put these developments into a wider
context, showing how the symbols, mood and substance of Metal have
filtered out and spread their influence over a much wider area, taking
root in everything from modern art through to commercial enterprise,
marketing and advertising. With such a vast topic at hand, we will not
be presenting a definitive series of lectures, but will try to cover
as much ground as possible with all the speakers before opening up the
debate to the audience to participate.

As far as we know, this is the first event of its kind, dedicated to
this particularly rich vein of local history and culture. And we
sincerely hope it won’t be the last…

Tony Sylvester