An annotated interview with Beastwars

Language, identity and place in New Zealand metal


  • Jessica Kruk La Trobe University
  • Wesley C Robertson Macquarie University



New Zealand, Metal, Sociolinguistics, Language, Identity


In 2021, we interviewed Matt Hyde of Wellington’s Beastwars for our ethnographic podcast Lingua Brutallica as part of a project exploring language in metal scenes outside of America and Europe. In this annotated interview, we edit, discuss and frame the content of the interview in relation to how Hyde’s comments shed light on important conflicts between personal, local and global understandings of what makes ‘metal’ lyrics and music. The interview covers, in Hyde’s own words, his approach to metal lyrics, and how he weaves his personal experiences and New Zealand’s unique landscape into images of pagan rituals, ancient battles, death, and other emblems of international ‘metal’ practices. This distinctive taste of New Zealand metal that results brings together the local and international scenes that devour it. Through breaking up the transcript with commentary on the sociolinguistic insights Hyde provides on understandings of language, metal and identity, we explore how Hyde aligns with, resists, and feels pressured by stereotypes of ‘metal language’, producing a guided tour of how a key figure in New Zealand metal has navigated the fluidity of ‘local’ and ‘global’ language practice in metal music throughout his 15 years in the scene.

Author Biographies

  • Jessica Kruk, La Trobe University

    Dr Jessica Kruk is a lecturer in the linguistics program at La Trobe University. Her work explores the linguistic creativity of marginalized and peripheral communities, from ethnic minority groups to underground extreme metal bands.

  • Wesley C Robertson, Macquarie University

    Wesley C. Robertson is a Senior Lecturer in Languages & Cultures at Macquarie University. His research uses socio-linguistic perspectives to analyse written language play, slang, translation, and subcultural language use with a focus on Japanese. His first monograph, Scripting Japan, was published in 2021, and he runs a blog by the same name.


Belén Calvo, Manuela. 2018. ‘Indigenista Perspectives in Argentine Metal Music’. Metal Music Studies 4/1: 155–63.

Berger, Harris M. 1999. ‘Death Metal Tonality and the Act of Listening’. Popular Music 18/2: 161–78.

Birnie-Smith, Jessica. 2021. ‘Framing Chineseness and Indonesianness on the Indonesian Periphery’. In Unpacking Discourses on Chineseness: The Cultural Politics of Language and Identity in Globalizing China, ed. S. Gao and X. Wang, 80–105. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Birnie-Smith, Jess, and Wesley C. Robertson. 2021. ‘Superdiversity and Translocal Brutality in Asian Extreme Metal Lyrics’. Language & Communication 81: 48–63.

Blommaert, Jan. 2015. ‘Commentary: Superdiversity Old and New’. Language & Communication 44: 82–88.

De Costa, Peter I. 2018. ‘Framing “Sociolinguistic Methods of the South”’. In A Sociolinguistics of the South, ed. K. Heugh, C. Stroud, K. Taylor-Leech and P. I. De Costa, 191–98. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis Group.

Fletcher, K. F. B., and Osman Umurhan. 2019. Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music. London: Bloomsbury.

Hagen, Ross. 2014. ‘“Kvlter Than Thou”: Power, Suspicion and Nostalgia within Black Metal Fandom’. In The Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures, ed. L. Duits, K. Zwaan and S. Rejnders, 223–36. Farnham: Ashgate.

Halnon, Karen Battez. 2006. ‘Heavy Metal Carnival and Dis-Alienation’. Symbolic Interaction 29/1: 33–48.

Kahn-Harris, Keith. 2003. ‘Death Metal and the Limits of Musical Expression’. In Policing Pop, ed. M. Cloonan and R. Garofalo, 81–99. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Kahn-Harris, Keith. 2007. Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge. New York: Berg.

Kirner-Ludwig, Monika, and Florian Wohlfarth. 2018. ‘METALinguistics: Facethreatening Taboos, Conceptual Offensiveness and Discursive Transgression in Extreme Metal’. Metal Music Studies 4/3: 403–32.

Mann, S. 2011. ‘A Critical Review of Qualitative Interviews in Applied Linguistics’. Applied Linguistics 32/1: 6–24.

Moberg, Marcus. 2012. ‘Religion in Popular Music or Popular Music as Religion? A Critical Review of Scholarly Writing on the Place of Religion in Metal Music and Culture’. Popular Music & Society 35/1: 113–30.

Moore, R. 2017. ‘The Unmaking of the English Working Class’. In Class: The Anthology, ed. S. Aronowitz and M. J. Roberts, 141–50. New Jersey: Wiley.

Patterson, Jamie E. 2016. ‘“Getting My Soul Back”: Empowerment Narratives and Identities among Women in Extreme Metal in North Carolina’. In Global Metal and Music Culture: Current Directions in Metal Studies, ed. Robert Allen Brown, Keith Kahn-Harris, Niall Scott and Karl Spracklen, 245–58. New York: Routledge.

Robertson, Wesley. 2022. ‘Screams of Slaughter and Samurai: Revisiting Japan’s Medieval in Contemporary Japanese Folk Metal’. Parergon 39/1: 79–104.

Rosemary, Lucy Hill. 2016. ‘Masculine Pleasure? Women’s Encounters with Hard Rock and Metal Music’. In Global Metal and Music Culture: Current Directions in Metal Studies, ed. Robert Allen Brown, Keith Kahn-Harris, Niall Scott and Karl Spracklen, 278–93. New York: Routledge.

Sellheim, Nikolas. 2016. ‘Black and Viking Metal: How Two Extreme Music Genres Depict, Construct and Transfigure the (Sub-)Arctic’. Polar Record 52/266: 509–17.

Silverstein, Michael. 2003. ‘Indexical Order and the Dialectics of Sociolinguistic Life’. Language & Communication 23/3–4: 193–229.

Trafford, Simon. 2021. ‘Nata Vimpi Curmi Da: Dead Languages and Primordial Nationalisms in Folk Metal Music’. In Multilingual Metal Music, ed. Riitta-Liisa Valijärvi, Charlotte Doesburg and Amanda DiGioia, 221–38. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Valijärvi, Riitta-Liisa, Charlotte Doesburg and Amanda DiGioia. 2021. Multilingual Metal Music. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Wallach, Jeremy. 2020. ‘Global Rock as Postcolonial Soundtrack’. In The Bloomsbury Handbook of Rock Music Research, ed. Alan Moore and Paul Carr, 469–85. London: Bloomsbury.

Walser, Robert. 1993. ‘Eruptions: Heavy Metal Appropriations of Classical Virtuosity’. Popular Music 11/3: 263–308.

Weinstein, Deena. 1991. Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology. New York: Lexington Books.



How to Cite

Kruk, J., & Robertson, W. C. (2023). An annotated interview with Beastwars: Language, identity and place in New Zealand metal. Perfect Beat, 22(1), 5–21.