The Art and Science of Headbanging

I saw Amon Amarth last Saturday – that’s Viking-inspired death metal, for the uninitiated. It was the first show I’ve been to this year so of course I can say it’s the best show I’ve been to all year – but I tell you, everything else in 2008 is going to have to be pretty kick-arse to top the Vikings. It was very, very cool indeed. Here’s an example of the kind of show we were treated to. One of the commenters on this video says “amon amarth is more viking than the vikings were” which is pretty funny and more than likely true:

YouTube – Amon Amarth – Pursuit of Vikings

I was writing up my review for FasterLouder and discussing with Dave whether there was a technical term for the synchronised circular headbanging that the band had been excelling at. Dave felt that there was, but we couldn’t think what it would be – so of course, we consulted that oracle of all things, Wikipedia.

Well, turns out that not only is there an entry on headbanging in Wikipedia, it’s pretty goddamn funny. Here’s an excerpt from the section on styles of headbanding:

The up and down: the most common style, which involves shaking the head up and down. This style is demonstrated at the climax of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in the movie Wayne’s World. It was also commonly used by the cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-head.

Sounds pretty simple, right? What about this one:

The hammer: a form of headbanging performed by Till Lindemann of Rammstein performed by semi-squatting and hitting the opposite knee of the hand you’re doing the hammer motion to, while moving your head side to side or up and down. The speed of the Hammer fist goes hand in hand with the drum beat.

Hmmmm, ok. How about this one:

The half body: Similar to the Full Body, the half body is a bizarre variation of the “up and down” where the performer keeps their head straight, but bends at the hips, usually in time with every second beat of the song. Usually the performer only bends to approximately a 45-degree angle, to maintain balance.

Got all that? Good!

Of course, once you’ve picked a style, you also need to pick a stance. From reading the descriptions I think this is the one that I personally tend to favour:

Standing with one leg in front and one behind, with the hands held together near the lower body. This style is often used in tight spaces or to alleviate cramp and maintain balance.

And then you put it all together:

Various styles are often mixed together according to taste and to the tempo and aggressiveness of the music. They can also be performed with eyes closed and/or in combination with hand gestures such as devil horns, singing, yelling, and lip syncing.

And air guitar. Don’t forget air guitar. I bet there’s an extremely hilarious Wikipedia entry on air guitar too, but it’s too late tonight kids πŸ™‚

~ by goat_admin on January 8, 2008.

4 Responses to “The Art and Science of Headbanging”

  1. Okay I need to review and take note of my head banging now in case the head banging police are about. πŸ™‚

  2. I never knew there was such a science to it all. The web is truely educational!

  3. I was just thinking the other day, is there Metalhead Certification? Some secret institution where you can learn the 48,005 accepted metal sub-genres; form an opinion about Queensryche* (it doesn’t matter what that opinion is, just that you have an interpretation of Operation: Mindcrime); prove that you spend more on CDs than on food; play in your first five bands; learn to dance/headbang without damaging yourself with your own keychain; learn how to find merchandise for bands even other metalheads haven’t heard of yet; and finally, how to stand at the back looking intensely interested yet unimpressed during gigs? πŸ˜‰

    * ok so that reference effectively dates my exposure to extreme metalheads, but you know what i’m saying πŸ˜‰

  4. Heh, you know what I don’t think there is. But having in the past couple of years turned one of my younger brothers towards the dark side, I think there totally *should* be. I reckon the documentary “Metal: A Headbangers Journey” should be the video text book… Maybe I’ll write some workshop plans here πŸ™‚

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