Fantasy and Metal: Game of Thrones

…many [extreme metal] scene members are voracious readers, particularly of books on fantasy, religion, horror, the occult and philosophy.

So writes Keith Khan-Harris in his 2007 book Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge (emphasis mine). As a pretty embedded fan of metal, I’m not sure how aware outsiders are of this, but metallers can be big nerds. Or maybe nerds just love metal. Either way, band t-shirts are a regular fixture at comic shops, gaming stores, conventions, and other places where nerd culture takes place; I myself own more than a few polygonal dice.

Metal loves horror – that’s not surprising – but it also loves fantasy. The number of death metal bands growling about mutilating zombies can no doubt be matched by power metal groups singing about Middle Earth. The notorious Varg Vikernes once performed as ‘Count Grishnackh’ – a name derived from a minor Orc character in the Lord of the Rings.

So to celebrate the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones tonight, I’ve selected some metal tracks that celebrate the work of George RR Martin in a way that only metal can – with RIFFS.

First is Texan stoner metallers The Sword, with a slice of heaviness straight from the seventies, with a song about the Night’s Watch:

If your tastes tend more towards the bombastic and theatrical, Swedish power metal group HammerFall also wrote about joining the Night’s Watch – because, as anyone who’s read the books or watched the show knows, their job is extremely metal.

Trash revivalists Lich King take the title of this song from the book that seasons 3 and 4 of the show are based on – though I warn you that paying attention to the lyrics may spoil plot points of the upcoming season!

Finally, to return to power metal, Blind Guardian have two songs on their album At the Edge of Time celebrating the series, recounting both the War of the Five Kings that plagues Westeros and the struggles of young Bran Stark. Both songs are quite cryptic and shouldn’t hold any spoilers for fans who haven’t gotten that far in the story yet!

I think any blog post about Game of Thrones is obliged to end with these words, so…
valar morghulis.

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