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Dr Owen Coggins

Profile summary

Professional biography

As well as Visiting Fellow of the Religious Studies Department at the Open University, Owen Coggins is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Social & Political Sciences at Brunel University London.

After an MA in Religions at SOAS, University of London, Owen completed a PhD in 2015 at The Open University in Religious Studies and Music. The doctoral project was an ethnographic investigation of how religion was articulated in the discourses and practices surrounding drone metal, an experimental form of music. A monograph that extended this research, Mysticism, Ritual and Religion in Drone Metal (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018) won the 2019 book prize of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Research interests tend to focus on ambiguity, noise, ritual, constructions of mysticism and abstractions of violence, in extreme or marginal popular music cultures. Articles on related topics have appeared in Implicit Religion, JBASR, Metal Music Studies, Popular Music and elsewhere.

Owen previously worked as a Researcher at music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. He is currently the Secretary of the International Society for Metal Music Studies, and co-runs the record label and registered charity Oaken Palace, raising money for endangered species through releasing drone music.


Selected Publications:


2018. Mysticism, Ritual and Religion in Drone Metal Music, London: Bloomsbury Academic. See

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

2020. With Giorgos Tsiris, Neta Spiro & Ania Zubala. ‘The Impact Areas Questionnaire: A Music Therapy Service Evaluation Tool’, with Research article and evaluation tool. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy Journal, 20(2).

2019. ‘Ritual Sacrifice in the Music and Noise of a Metal Festival’ Riffs: Experimental Writing on Popular Music Studies 3(2), November, “Festivals” special issue, pp.85-109.

2019. ‘Imaginaries of spirituality, violence and health impacts in metal music: A critical history and case study’ Approaches: A Journal of Music Therapy 11(1), November, pp.134-149.

2019. ‘Distortion, restriction and instability: Violence against the self in Depressive Suicidal Black Metal’, Metal Music Studies 5(3), September, pp.401-418.

2019. ‘Dirty, soothing, secret magic: Individualism and spirituality in extreme metal and New Age music cultures’, Popular Music, 38(1), January, pp.105-120.

2018. Evil I?: Witchfinders, Magic and Ambiguity at Stake in Doom Metal', Metal Music Studies, 4(2), June, pp.309-328.

2017. ‘Imagined Drone Ecologies: Listening to Vibracathedral Orchestra’, Evental Aesthetics, 6(1), “Sound and Environment” special issue, pp.63-71.

2016. With C. Erskine-Smith. ‘Gates of Warwickshire: Rural Industrial Noise,’ Noise & Silence Magazine, Issue 2: Urban/Rural, October.

2016. ‘Record Store Guy’s Head Explodes and the Critic is Speechless! Genre Questions in Drone Metal’, Metal Music Studies, 2(3), pp.291-309.

2015. ‘The Invocation at Tilburg: Mysticism, Implicit Religion and Gravetemple’s Drone Metal’, Journal of Implicit Religion, 18(2), July, pp.209-31. Reprinted in Danielle L. Kirby & Carole M. Cusack eds., Religion and Media, Critical Concepts in Religion series, London: Routledge, 2017.

2014. ‘Citation and Recitation in Mystical Scholarship and Om’s Drone Metal’, Diskus, Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religion, 16(1), July, “Music and Religion” special issue, pp.30-47.

2013. ‘Mountains of Silence: Drone Metal Recordings as Mystical Texts’, International Journal for the Study of Religion in Society, 2(4), September, pp.21-32.

2012. ‘Paradise and Politics in the Music of Blind Willie Johnson’, Altre Modernità, 7, May 2012, pp.24-38. /2134/2358.

As Editor

2017. With James Harris. Sustain//Decay: A Philosophical Exploration of Drone Music and Mysticism. St Louis: Void Front Press. Edited volume.

2014. Diskus, Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religion, 16(1), July 2014, “Music and Religion” special issue.

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters

2020. ‘Drones versus Drones: Ambient and Ambivalent Sound in Protests against Drone Warfare,’ in Rebecca Edelman & David Kieran (eds) Remote Warfare: New Cultures of Violence, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp.255-79.

2017. ‘Unstable Metaphors for the Inaccessible: Mysticism, Blackletter, Drone Metal’, in James Harris & Owen Coggins (eds) Sustain//Decay: A Philosophical Exploration of Drone Music and Mysticism, St Louis: Void Front Press, pp.15-27.

2017. ‘A Spectre So Violent: Monstrous Logic and the Malevolent City in the Music of Skinny Puppy’, in Alexandra McGhee & Joseph Lamperez (eds) Urban Monstrosities: Perversity and Upheaval in the Unreal City, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, pp.108-27.

2016. ‘Transforming Detail into Myth: Indescribable Experience and Mystical Discourse in Drone Metal’, in Andy R. Brown, Karl Spracklen, Keith Kahn-Harris & Niall Scott (eds) Global Metal Music and Culture: Current Directions in Metal Studies, New York: Routledge, pp.311-329.

2015. ‘Experience, Practice, Writing: Methodological Outline of Drone Metal Research’, in Toni-Matti Karjalainen & Kimi Kärki (eds) Modern Heavy Metal: Markets, Practices and Cultures, Helsinki: Aalto University, pp.354-365.

2014. ‘Nationalist Black Metal, Black Metal Nation’ in Girindra Ray, Jaydeep Sarkar and Anindya Bhattacharya (eds) Writing Difference: Literature, Identity and Nationalism, London: Atlantic, pp.460-481.