Mater omnium and the cosmic womb of the abyss: nomadic interiorities and matrifocal black metal performance

Jasmine Hazel Shadrack

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


If a woman cannot feel comfortable in her own body, she has no home. (Winterson, J, The Guardian, 29.03.2013). Black metal is beyond music. It exceeds its function of musical genre. It radiates with its sepulchral fire on every side of culture [...] Black metal is the suffering body that illustrates, in the same spring, all the human darkness as much as its vital impetus. (Lesourd 2013). Masciandaro’s notion of ‘the cosmic womb of the abyss’ (2010) in black metal theory, suggests a foregrounding of a matrifocal position cosseted and restrained within the patriarchal frame of black metal that at once, performs against it and from within it. The overt masculinity of this subgenre, of metal and popular music structures and the wider socio-cultural metanarrative, means that for a woman to occupy space within black metal, she has to identify the cosmic womb as her own. The process that subsequently unfolds is a subjective self-embodied analysis that, through interpretive performance autoethnography, develops a critical understanding of women and their relationship to black metal. This produces the notion of woman as the female nomad, as Winterson notes, whose inability to feel comfortable in her own body means that she is mediated through patriarchal structures and her home is denied her. Through interpretive performance autoethnography, that sense of home, of the occupation of her interiorities, becomes a tangible active performance; the abyssic void becomes arrested by female black metal performance and the mater omnium ceases her nomadic journey, and finds release. This paper seeks to analyse female black metal performance through interpretive performance autoethnography. As the guitarist and front woman with the avant-garde black metal band Denigrata, my involvement has meant that the journey to find my home rests within the blackened heart of musical performance. Interpretive performance autoethnography provides the analytical frame through which the cosmic womb of the abyss becomes manifest in Denigrata’s music and art-objects. This process identifies and actualises Creed’s ‘generative archaic mother, constructed within patriarchal ideology, as the primeval ‘black hole’, the originating womb which gives birth to all life’ (1997), exceeding the mystical, all-powerful feminine divine and making her, through black metal performance, wholly human.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2016
EventMetal in Strange Places: Aural, Emotional, Tactile, Visual - University of Dayton, Ohio, USA
Duration: 20 Oct 2016 → …


ConferenceMetal in Strange Places: Aural, Emotional, Tactile, Visual
Period20/10/16 → …
Internet address


  • Feminism
  • Black Metal
  • Subjectivity
  • Kristeva
  • Jouissance
  • Abjection
  • Sublime Alienation
  • Deject
  • The Corpse
  • Matrifocal Performance


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