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Concordia professor and Grimposium keynote speaker Vivek Venkatesh.

Black metal is the new black. Death metal is alive and well. Thrash metal is stirring. And things are looking up for doom metal. Those four subgenres are generally considered to be the four legs of what is called "extreme metal," and believe us when we mention four legs, because this animal hasn't always walked upright.

That may be changing, though. Metalheads now walk proud as well as loud, if this week's international symposium on the belligerent genre is any indication. It's called Grimposium, which settles like a fog onto Concordia University in Montreal on April 11 and 12, a few days after the Decibel Magazine Tour blows out speaker cabinets in Toronto and Montreal.

The keynote speaker at Grimposium is Concordia's Vivek Venkatesh, an eloquent professor and an appreciated assistant dean, by all accounts. In front of musicians, journalists, filmmakers and other academics, he will speak not on axeology or tinnitus treatments, but on the global growth of the extreme-metal scene.

Will the genre's escalation move it toward the mainstream? Should the scene seek above-ground acceptance, at the risk of losing its base? Extreme metal, then, on the devil horns of a dilemma.