From what I can gather now that my mind has been sufficiently exploded by the sheer amazement that this is a serious project that exists, the ISMMS is a collective that researches all types metal music and creates an academic discipline out of it. Holy friggin' crap!
Above is a video of Dr. Karl Spracklen, a Professor of Leisure Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University, talking about goals of the ISMMS and his specific area of black metal in an interview with CvltNation.com (by way of Blabbermouth). Spracklen had to say:
"Heavy metal is an important part of modern culture and everyday life, so studying heavy metal enables us to understand both of those things. For me, the interesting thing about heavy metal is the tension between metal's strong sense of being part of a non-mainstream subculture, and metal's place in the industry of modern pop and rock music. That's because I'm essentially a sociologist. Other heavy metal scholars might be interested in the way the music is constructed, or the meaning behind song lyrics, or the history of the scene, or the use of heavy metal as a philosophy or ideology of life. Heavy metal is just a subject field, a lens, through which we can think about problems in other academic disciplines."
So this got me thinking- what he hell is the ISMMS? Just Spracklen's words alone seem infinitely interesting in the fact that he (and his colleagues) love he music enough to make it into an academic study. I tracked down their website and found the following explanation:
"The mission of ISMMS is to encourage and facilitate trans / interdisciplinary and international academic research regarding processes and phenomena related to heavy metal music and culture and to support the recognition of such research as a significant contribution to academic communities. Sub-genres of heavy metal and related genres, e.g., hardcore punk, are included. ISMMS exists as a focal organization to establish metal music studies as a relevant and respected academic discipline and contribute to the growth of knowledge within the academic and music communities. These aims shall be accomplished through the development, organization and promotion of state of the art collaborations, publications, activities and events that demonstrate high standards and principles of academic excellence and the important purpose of this research around the world."
You can read up on the formal bibliography and scope of the study here as well. The thing I love most above all about this is they don't seem like super nerds or elitists about the whole thing. They're just a normal group of people who love metal music and really see educational worth in it as one would see educational worth in classical or jazz.
Right on, ISMMS. Best of luck and godspeed!