Cubicle at the End of the Universe: Metal Edition
by Chris Krovatin
One of my tasks as the Del Rey hunchback is the throw up our Morning Metal posts on Facebook. For those of you who aren’t tuned in to our incredibly awesome Facebook page, Morning Metal is a Friday morning tradition where we usher in the oncoming weekend in a blaze of riff-heavy scream-filled heavy metal goodness. There are, in my humble opinion, few genres of music that suit the sci-fi and fantasy genres as much as heavy metal. Its scope, strength, and sense of wonder merge into an epic force beyond the understanding of common minds, threatening to overwhelm the very fabric of reality. Hail.
Now, some of you are probably thinking, ‘Heavy metal’s just noise and growling.’ If I could, I would cut your tongue out for uttering such blasphemy, but since this is the Internet, I’ll just say: aha, not true! Much like weird fiction, heavy metal comes in all forms and colors, and is as varied as any genre available to you. In fact, one of the best parts of the Morning Metal posts is finding what song or band best suits one of our most recent releases. So here, to help the uninitiated, I’ve listed a tasting menu, as it were, matching some Del Rey favorite books, series, and franchises with a metal band whose sound and atmosphere will best suit them. Enjoy, and bang your head!
A Song of Ice And Fire: Amon Amarth
As much as the epic fantasy of George R. Martin might call for something more medieval or cheesy—Manowar, for instance, or Dio—the sheer brutality of the battle and bloodshed that occurs therein requires stronger stuff. Sweden’s Viking death squad Amon Amarth have mastered a blend of infectious melody and crushing darkness that brings to mind all of the galloping horses, snarling wolves, flashing swords, sweat-sheened brows, and flowing gore that occupies the many lands of Westeros and the thousands of monsters, human and otherwise, therein.
Suggested track: “Death In Fire” off of Versus The World
Star Wars: Gojira
The Star Wars universe is one filled with both strange, beautiful wonders and vast, terrifying horrors. Its style incorporates that of many cultures, peoples, and eras. Hence, Gojira, France’s premiere experimental metallers, whose stranger moments evoke images of starlight and foreign lands, yet whose heavier pieces are as crushing and vast as the vacuum itself (or Jabba the Hutt). This is the kind of band who could get the Mos Eisley Cantina closed down on a noise complaint.
Suggested track: “L’Enfant Sauvage” from the album of the same name.
The Iron Druid Chronicles: Babylon Whores
This little-known death rock band may be obscure even in their native Finland, but their music—a smokey mix of old-school metal and modern doom that sounds like an Albrecht Durer woodcut—has enough sexy groove and booze-soaked darkness to sound appropriate behind the many mishaps and Druidic adventures of Kevin Hearne’s own Atticus O’Sullivan. This is the kind of band you find on the jukebox at a bar full of ghosts, satyrs, and lumberjacks.
Suggested track: “Lucibel (The Good Spirits of Europe)” off of Death of the West.
Shannara: Holy Grail
One of the things I’ve always found interesting about Terry Brooks’ Shannara series is that it blends post-apocalyptic sci-fi with high fantasy. And what better band to write the soundtrack to such a world than California’s Holy Grail, who are two parts radioactive thrash and one part old-school fantasy metal? With song subjects that range from axe-swinging battles to the horrors of modern technology, this fearsome five-piece are a perfect match for Brook’s epic scope.
Suggested track: “The Blackest Night” from Crisis In Utopia.
The Lord of the Rings: Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian’s approach to epic fantasy metal has always been over-the-top and beautifully-rendered, making them just the right accompaniment for arguably the greatest fantasy series of all time. But it’s the opera- and medievally-tempered aspects of their surging metallic assault that puts them in the lead for scoring the thorough and many-layered works of Tolkien. Many metal bands should be so lucky.
Suggested track: “Battlefield” off of A Night At The Opera
Anything by China Mieville: Strapping Young Lad
China Mieville’s works are all tinged with disillusionment, modern darkness, runaway technology and bizarre inhuman creatures—all of which is par for course for Devin Townsend, mastermind behind the brutal and insane Strapping Young Lad. Merging modern industrial elements with surging melodic thrash, SYL exudes all of the gritty battery-flavored madness that makes works like Embassytown such a great, if utterly nutter butter, pieces of art.
Suggested track: “Detox” from City.
Do you have any track suggestions for other books? Let us know in the comments.