(The following article was written by Tør, a self-professed metalhead, data nerd, and ex-academic, who is also a contributing writer and photographer for a number of online metal publications. The article, and the accompanying interactive maps, are based on his work on a Ph.D. doctoral dissertation.)
Metal historians and researchers often explain the proliferation of metal music in terms of early tape-trading and local scene formation. The story is a familiar one: a small group of young metalheads get together and listen to a few tapes, trade tapes with other metalheads, and get inspired to make their own music. Indeed, the early spread of metal music and culture occurred in large part due to the human networks formed by individuals in local scenes. However, there is an emerging debate about the way in which metal has spread across the globe and what that process entails in the digital age.