Heavy Metal Tunes For Your Hobbying!

March 23, 2020 by brennon

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We all know that the best miniatures are heavy and made of metal but music is also best when it is heavy and made of metal! I love to rock out when I am painting, turning the speakers up to eleven and throwing the horns at my tiny fighty men as I give them a highlight or a shade.

Heavy Metal Tunes For Your Hobbying!

While this does help explain some of the terrible paint jobs I have produced over the years, I enjoy nothing more than building and painting toy soldiers with the heavy metal blasting loud. This article is going to delve deep into my brain, corrupted by many years of listening to heavy metal, and provide you with some inspirational and rocking music to listen to while you're hobbying.

I am going to concentrate on bands and artists who have taken inspiration from some of the genres of games we love the most, namely Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Historical. Some bands you will know, some may not be as familiar. More information related to the links between music and gaming can be found in a previous article I wrote about Music & Gaming a little while ago.

Fantasy Metal

Metal is very well known for the inspiration bands take from the world of Fantasy and the king of twisting fantasy into his music and lyrics is none other than the legendary, Ronnie James Dio.

While Ozzy Osbourne is the best known of the Black Sabbath singers, Dio was possibly their best singer and his arrival into the band in 1979 gave them fresh ideas and brought more poetic and fantasy inspired lyrics that can be heard in songs like Children Of The Sea and Neon Nights.

Dio was more subtle when using fantasy in his lyrics than he is given credit for, like a poet he used his lyrics to conjure and inspire, while other bands, like Attacker, were not so subtle as their song “Battle At Helm’s Deep” illustrates.

Vandalizing the countryside
Goblins march in fearless pride
Through destruction, they forge virtue
Hell rats are out to get you

Gandalf carries the magic staff
Divides the armies in half
In the deeps of helm's they engage in battle
So insane it'll make you rattle

Thunder roars wind howls
Demons sporting crimson cowls
Hobbits fight in desperation
The bloody war had no inspiration

Don’t let the lyrics or artwork put you off, this is a fantastic piece of raw 1980s heavy metal, heavily inspired by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Sticking to a Tolkien theme we have Blind Guardian, whose 1998 album “Nightfall In Middle Earth” is a concept album based on the events in The Silmarillion. My two favourite tracks from this album are Mirror Mirror and the mighty, Nightfall!

A less well-known band than Blind Guardian, whose lyrics were also heavily inspired by Tolkien are Finland’s Battlelore. Battlelore are difficult to describe as they combine elements from many different genres of metal and perhaps didn’t get the success and credit they deserved when they hit the scene in the 2000s.

I have a soft spot for their first two albums, and what follows is “The Grey Wizard” from their debut album plus “...Where the Shadows Lie” and “Sons of Riddermark” from their second album, “Sword’s Song”.

Of course Heavy Metal isn’t all Tolkien and Orcs. Oh did I mentions Orcs?

As I was saying, Heavy Metal isn’t all Tolkien and Dragons. Oh did I mention Dragons?

Where was I? Yes, Trolls!

Undead…

You get the point. Heavy Metal is full of favourite fantasy creatures but we also have those bands with obsessions that follow Lovecraftian lore.

Electric Wizard are a great example of this, but warning, this is not for the faint-hearted. I’ve included an example of the lyrics below.

The old ones were
And they shall be again
Yog Sothoth is the gate
Planetary alignment predicts their reign

If you have recovered and prefer your fantasy a little more Robert E. Howard and barbarian, we have Gatekeeper from Canada. A new band, with an old school sound, if you don’t want to punch a camel after listening to this, there might be something wrong with your hearing!

So far we have had bands old and new, but let's turn our ears back in time and look at some songs that have been inspired by the conflicts and battles we play out on the tabletop.

Historical Metal

Many of you, I suspect, will expect some Iron Maiden or Sabaton listed in this section, but you are going to be disappointed. I will point you towards the Sabaton History YouTube Channel, which provides information on the historical background to many of their songs.

Instead, I have to start with one of my favourite songs, and what is now Warren’s favourite period of history.

Forlorn Hope are an English band who describe themselves as a Historical Heavy Metal band and with a debut album entitled “Over the Hills”, which includes songs such as “Rifles” and “The Eagle Hunters”, it is not hard to guess the period of history it is about. Sharpe fans will enjoy this first track, I’m sure.

Now onto the metal!

Iced Earth, from the good old USA, are another band who have been inspired by history over the years when writing their albums, and to stick in the same time period as Forlorn Hope we will begin with a song they composed about Waterloo (and no it isn’t an Abba cover).

They also recorded the magnificent Gettysburg (1863) trilogy. Each track in the trilogy of songs represents a day of the battle. I listened to this a lot when it was released.

But my favourite Iced Earth song based on a historical event is Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862) and has resulted in me doing a lot of reading about the “Fighting 69th” and the Battle of Fredericksburg. The number of casualties this regiment took on the 13th December was horrendous.

Another period of history that is popular amongst metal bands is the Viking Age but rather than go to Scandinavia we will travel to Italy and meet Doomsword, a fantastic band more Viking than a Swedish granny. Burn Jorvik to the ground!

As Viking Metal is now quite popular, I will not delve into it any further but a list of bands who sing about history would not be complete without talking about Grave Digger. From Germany, their 1996 album “Tunes Of War” was all about the conflicts and history of Scotland versus England. There is even a bagpipe solo!!!

Grave Digger also had Warren in mind when they also wrote a concept album in 1998 about the Knights Templar including a great little song about some bloke called Lionheart!

Saxon, whom we met earlier, also have a song about Richard I of England, again called Lionheart, but the lyrics suggest it is more based on legend than historical fact.

Sci-Fi Metal

Sci-Fi is not as popular as fantasy in metal but it does exist. To start, this is perhaps the greatest song written about a Sci-Fi setting ever!

Iron Savior, again from Germany (there must be a lot of heavy water in the region to produce this much metal), are different in that not only do their songs feature Sci-Fi lyrics, their albums are but one long continuous story. To cut the story short - Atlantis existed 350,000 years ago, the Atlantians created the “Iron Savior”, which is a defensive space station thing, but things go wrong, Atlantis is destroyed by their enemy, the Iron Savior spends 350,000 years in space before turning up at earth again in 2106. Phew! Anyway, music!

Greece’s Sacral Rage are another band who enjoy a bit of storytelling in their songs and have released a song called The Glass. Set in 2117, overpopulation is humanity’s biggest issue, scientists make an oxygen-producing machine called The Glass, but no-one wants to leave earth…

Finally, no article about music on a gaming site could be without a bit of Bolt Thrower. Enjoy!

I hope you find some music you like in this brief article. There are many, many bands producing music inspired by the same fantasy, sci-fi and history we love to read, watch and game in just waiting for us to discover.

Article by @robert (thanks for getting involved and sharing your thoughts!)

Have fun exploring and post below any gems you know or find!

"Have fun exploring and post below any gems you know or find!"

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