Industrial Culture   2 comments

The Rivet Head by Trellia

The Rivet Head by Trellia

(Note, March 2017: I no longer maintain this page, and while I will always honor my rivethead roots, I spend 90% of my time listening to dark ambient music these days, and I no longer go to clubs or keep up with the scene except sporadically.  Of course, dark ambient is a subgenre of industrial, so there’s that!  My Chthonic Cathedral Project is more current.)

I have a longstanding interest and involvement (over 20 years) in the industrial/gothic/neofolk/dark ambient music subculture.  Here are some personal reflections from my former rivethead feminism blog (I deleted the blog in 2010) on industrial music and what it means to me:

Industrial music is harsh, cold, intense, futuristic, provocative, transgressive of social norms, experimental, confrontational and unapologetic.  It’s music with a defiant, thumb-your-nose-at-the-world, fuck-the-status-quo attitude.  I love being part of a subculture where women’s anger, sexual agency, and aggression are considered more acceptable than they tend to be in the mainstream.  There are precious few places in the world where that is the case.

I love the roughness of the distorted beats in industrial music.  I love the sounds of deep bass lines and kick drums.  I love the aggressive, harsh vocals.  I love the post-apocalyptic, military, machinery and robotics themes of rivethead culture and fashion.  I love the fact that industrial is considered “challenging” listening, and that some of the bands I now love the most were an acquired taste.  And I especially love stompy industrial dance styles.

Many of the people drawn to industrial music are pensive, introspective, and spiritually or artistically inclined in ways that are frowned upon in the mainstream.  There’s a certain unorthodox mindset that goes hand-in-hand with appreciation of this kind of music.  Industrial fans are some of the most creative, intelligent, insightful, funny, compassionate, and delightfully unconventional people I’ve ever met.  Rivetheads – along with goths, metalheads, and people from other similar subcultures – know that dark places can contain vast untapped reserves of power and creativity, and they are bold enough to go exploring and work with what they find there.

When I walk around in my rivethead gear, I feel strong.  I am still living in a misogynist culture, of course, and changing my style of dress doesn’t affect that…but it’s also true that feelings of inner strength are precious to me as a feminist.  Dressing this way is part of my ongoing attempt to reclaim a slice of the inner power that is far too often denied to women in a misogynist culture.  To me, the rivethead appearance – with its piercings, tattoos, shaved heads/deathhawks, steel-toed boots, and spikes – says “fuck you” to those who would oppress, disempower, or harm women, GLBTQ folks, people of colour, or anyone else who doesn’t happen to fit their stereotypes.

I also love industrial music because it takes me to places inside myself that can’t be reached any other way.  It thrusts me – up close and personal – into the realm of my fears and my darker passions, where I can struggle and wrestle with them and confront myself in a constructive way.  It’s a great outlet for all my pent-up destructiveness, feminist rage, discontent, frustration, and aggression.  It lets me get acquainted with my dark side and “feel deeper into life” in a way that doesn’t involve harming anyone.  It opens my mind, and helps me accept the shadow side of life.

I especially love industrial music that is emotionally rich, raw, and deep, with thought-provoking lyrics.  There is great beauty to be found even in the depths of profound sorrow, horror, or the adrenaline rush of aggression, and industrial music teaches me how to appreciate that beauty.


For awhile I was working on a book-length manuscript on the rivethead subculture from a feminist perspective.  I scrapped this project in 2013 and will not be returning to it.  However, for those interested in industrial music and culture, there is now – finally! – a great new book I can recommend for you:  Assimilate by S. Alexander Reed.

(The rest of this page was used to collect links and resources for use in my project; I’ve left them here for reference purposes.)

Rivetheads and the Industrial Subculture

A Journal of the Radical Gothic

Esoteric Sanctuary
Dark & Grim Esoteric Music blog

Zdzisław Beksiński Gallery

H.R. Giger

Opacity – great site featuring photography of abandoned places

Cryoflesh – Dark and innovative future fashion

Rivetheads on Deviantart

Das Bunker documentary teaser (YouTube video – I wonder if this documentary was ever finished/released?)

Industrial Music for Industrial People

Industrial Music Library – including lots of info on history of industrial music


Posted 2011/09/15 by The Black Stone Hermitage

2 responses to “Industrial Culture

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  1. Pingback: I am a Temple Keeper « The Black Stone Hermitage

  2. Pingback: Sexy Steel: From the Corset to the Catwalk

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