Stranger things

Metal in Strange Places Conference magnetizes natives and travelers

By Allyson B. Crawford

Photo: Gabby Riches from Leeds Beckett University in England examines women’s participation in extreme metal as a form of feminism Oct. 22

“The metal research community is very welcoming,” explains Bryan Bardine, Ph.D, and associate professor of English at the University of Dayton. One of Bardine’s areas of research is metal music. He is organizing the Metal In Strange Places conference, which will take place on the University of Dayton campus Oct. 20–22.

This is the second time UD has hosted such a conference. In 2014, the university hosted the same conference under the theme Metal and Cultural Impact.

This year, Metal In Strange Places will cast a critical eye at all the locations metal music is flourishing in the world and how we interact with the music. Presenters are from the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Finland, and England.

“We have presentations this time that will look at metal in Iceland, in Zimbabwe, in Indonesia,” Bardine explains. “There’s papers on metal and disability. Metal and engineering design. [Metal is] in places where you wouldn’t expect to find it. We’ve got papers that deal with metal and gender. Most people probably think that metal is a bunch of sweaty guys watching a show. Well, that’s not really the case anymore. There’s a lot of women bands and women that go to shows—that’s changed over the years.”

The conference is anchored by three keynotes. Tracy Reilly, law professor at UD, will discuss digital sampling in metal. Gabby Riches, doctoral candidate at Leeds Beckett University, will examine women’s participation in extreme metal as a form of feminism and Henkka Seppälä, bassist for the Finnish metal band Children of Bodom, will discuss his life as a successful, working metal musician.

Seppälä is friends with Mika Elovaara, Ph.D. Elovaara recently finished editing a book project with Bardine. The forthcoming work is called “Connecting Metal to Culture: Unity and Disparity.” That relationship helped link Seppälä with Bardine bringing him to Dayton to present and perform.

Seppälä says his keynote will revolve around his personal connection to music and his experience as a performer in Children of Bodom. He holds a master’s degree from the faculty of social sciences, department of political history at the University of Helsinki, but has never presented at an academic conference before, much less the keynote.

“This is something that I just couldn’t say no to! I feel honored to be invited to this event, and also I tend to like to take myself away from my comfort zone and really get back to the academic life,” Seppälä explains.

New this year will be a local panel of four individuals involved in the Dayton metal scene. This group is a mix of musicians and business people: Marc Godsey, a guitar player in Forces of Nature; Benny Bodine, a guitar player in Four Star Revival; Neilson Hixson, the owner of Oddbody’s Music Room; and Jebeneezer Law, a metal photographer. During the conference, Law will also present an exhibit of his work, displaying photos of metal bands from Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

For those in the Dayton area who may be interested in attending this conference but feel they don’t fit into a traditional academic conference, Bardine says not to worry about it— you are wanted.

“This is not like other kinds of professional conferences,” Bardine concludes. “Not that there aren’t scholars presenting, but most of them are big metal fans, too. It’s much more down to earth. You won’t see a lot of suits. People generally wear what they wear to a show. I would say to come and check it out.”

All told, there are 31 presenters planned for the three-day conference. After the conference concludes, everyone will gather at Oddbody’s for a finale concert featuring local acts Zuel, Engraved Darkness, EpiKisT, Forces of Nature, and I, Apollo. The concert costs $10 and proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

After his keynote, Seppälä will jump on stage with one of the local bands during the finale concert.

“I’ll probably chug a couple of pints after being nervous the whole day, and then jam with one of the bands!” he exclaims.

The Metal in Strange takes place Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 20–22 at the University of Dayton, 300 College Park in Dayton. Registration is required. Registration costs $20 for one day or $30 for two or three days. UD students and faculty may attend for free. To register or for more information, please find ‘Metal in Strange Places’ on Facebook or visit


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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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