Tuesday, November 14, 2006

in a metal mood

One of the regrets of my youth was that I spent too much money on roleplaying games and not enough on music. Which is to say I spent all my free money on rpgs and none of it on tunes. In particular I rue the fact that I missed the opportunity to hop on the heavy metal bandwagon back when it ruled the world of music. In many ways heavy metal and D&D go together like peas and mashed potatoes. Some people keep them separate on their plate but the awesomest folks mix 'em together with wild abandon.

So I've decided to try to re-edumacate myself on the good ol' days of heavy metal. I'm hoping some of my readers can help steer me to the good stuff. (Paging Dave Hoover. Mr. Hoover please pick up the white courtesy phone.) I'm mostly interested in the period of 1970 to 1983. Why stop at 1983? Because it's got to be hard to avoid irony after the 1984 release of a certain documentary. Below is my tentative list of stuff to look for.

Black Sabbath, Paranoid
Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell
Judas Priest, British Steel
Judas Priest, Screaming for Vengeance
Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast
Dio, Holy Diver
KISS (Okay, I can't tell you if these guys are metal or not. But KISS fucking rules.)
Queen (ditto)
Uriah Heep (Are they metal or just hippy freaks with guitars? Do I care either way?)
Hawkwind (see above)
Twisted Sister

So, music scenesters, any other suggestions? I'm looking for the evil and the fantastical. Albums with at least one good chartmaker would be a great place to start.


  1. Hawkwind are certainly hippy freaks with guitars. Unless of course it is the period when Lemmy was a part of the bad, then it could go either way. A favorite of mine, even if they hadn't recorded albums with Michael Moorcock.

  2. You already have a good start. If you haven't reached Ozzy overload, I'd also suggest the following:

    Ozzy Osbourne: Blizzard of Ozz
    Ozzy Osbourne: Diary of a Madman

    Iron Maiden: Powerslave
    AC/DC: Back in Black
    Motley Crue: Shout at the Devil

  3. I don't know (and don't care) if Blue Oyster Cult fit into the "metal' bin at Disc Jockey, but a role-playing campaign administered without the special magic that is "Fire Of Unknown Origin" is...uh...well, still pretty good on its own merits.

    But, dude! "You see me now, a veteran/of a thousand psychic wars/My energy's spent at last/and my armor is destroyed..."

    You're welcome.

  4. Anonymous11:54 AM

    In addition to the aforecommented Powerslave, I'll add another Maiden MUST HAVE: Piece of Mind. Come on! It's got a song (To Tame A Land) about Dune on it! There's more obscure RPG/Fantasy-related metal out there, too, such as Cirith Ungol (seriously), but I was never really into that stuff (it was too hard to find pre-Intarwebs, you know, back in the day).

    And, yes, both Uriah Heep and Hawkwind are most definitely hippy freaks with guitars.

  5. Dr. R!, I ommitted BOC only because I don't need any additional help on that angle. My pal Pat has nearly everything they've done. "I chose to steal what you choose to show" is sort of a catchphrase/in-joke of ours. We went and saw them live a few years back. Great show. In the middle of "Go! Go! Godzilla!" Buck shouts out "Oh, shit! There goes Champaign!"

  6. Hey Jeff...

    You have a good start here...

    If you'd like, I can get you copies of Paranoid, British Steel, Screaming For Vengeance, Stay Hungry (Twisted Sister), and some Queen (News of the World, A Night at the Opera, and Greatest Hits I&II).

    I have two Motorhead CDs, but they're both newer, although with Lemmy and company, time of release isn't really a factor. Lemmy is God and any Motorhead is good.

    I also have two Dio CDs, although only one (The Last In Line) is worth a damn.

    I'm also in agreement with some of the others around here in regards to Iron Maiden. Number of the Beast is good, but both Piece of Mind and Powerslave are pheonominal.

    Strangely, I have no Kiss in the "Wall of Sound", though I am thinking of rectifying that sometime in the near future. I'm not going after a lot here but eventually Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, Dressed To Kill, Destroyer, Rock 'N' Roll Over, Love Gun, and Alive(s) I & II will make acquired.

    Lately, I've been concentrating on newer stuff because it's something my son and I can connect with.

    In fact, I would almost lay odds that you would absolutely love the lastest album by a band known as Dragonforce. Inhuman Rampage is an absolute over-the-top guitar wankfest, full of swords and sorcery imagery. I swear there are at LEAST five guitar solos per SONG on this disc, all of which are insanely technical and played insanely fast.

    Just my (initial) $.02

    Peace... Dave

  7. Anonymous3:24 PM


    Tracks to focus on include "Black Wind Fire and Steel," "Blood of the Kings," and "Defender," for starters.

    But eventually, all of it.

    I mean, they're almost deliberately a D&D metal group (or at the very least, deliberately a warfare-oriented, fantasy-leaning metal group), which may count for or against them ... But on balance, I vote 'for' :)

  8. Anonymous8:26 PM

    They might fit in with the "are they really metal" group, but I would add Deep Purple, especially Machine Head.

    I discovered Sabbath, Purple and Uriah Heep all around the same time and they often made appearances around the gaming table, and as inspiration while creating adventures, world-stuff and characters.

  9. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Apologies for the AC above...

    I would like to add TYR as a great Sabbath album for gaming. Well past your deadline, and Ozzy-free, but has great Nordic mythology images!

  10. Oh man. I'll try to keep this short. But if you want, let me know, I could send you PAGES and PAGES of metal suggestions!

    First off, I'll echo S. John with his Manowar recommendation, the album I'd pick to start with would be Hail To England, featuring such martial-themed tracks as "Blood Of My Enemies" and "Each Dawn I Die".

    Secondly, your list of starters sounds good. Plenty to add, but nothing I'd subtract. I would urge you to push things past '83 though -- true, a lot of the best metal was from the '70s, but you'll still be missing out on a lot of cool post-'Tap releases. Especially of the D&Dish variety.

    A few notes: Regarding Judas Priest, also check out Sad Wings Of Destiny from 1976, and for the most metal album ever (maybe), 1990's Painkiller. Iron Maiden, gotta get Killers too so you can hear their best singer. Uriah Heep, make sure it's their early stuff (don't get fooled by Abominog's cool cover). Look At Yourself and Demons & Wizards are good choices. And I'd describe 'em as hippy freaks with guitars and, more importantly, electric organ! Which brings up Deep Purple, unless you left 'em off 'cause you already are up on them like BOC, you should get Machine Head. A few others not mentioned: Scorpions (Virgin Killer would be my number one pick), Venom, Motley Crue (the first two albums are good, seriously), Megadeth (it's post-'83, but I'd say Rust In Piece is their best), early Anthrax, early Metallica (guessing that's not unfamiliar), Thin Lizzy (another not really metal are they? band, but great, try Black Rose), early Alice Cooper (also, not exactly "metal" but cool), Budgie, Candlemass, Mercyful Fate, Helloween, Celtic Frost, Accept, Angel Witch, Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, Riot's Fire Down Under, I could go on and on and get a lot more obscure... you also mentioned the mighty Hawkind, yep not really metal but definitely a good fantasy / sci-fi band. Early stuff (with Lemmy) like In Search Of Space, Hall Of The Mountain Grill, and Doremi Fasol Latiido is my favorite. You'll find reviews/samples for these and others on my the website belonging to my record store Aquarius Records by the way. Did I mention I owned a record store?

    Someone else mentioned Cirith Ungol. Definitely good fantasy D&D metal there. Another one, even more obscure and eccentric, would be Manilla Road... again see my store's website if you're curious.

    And if you do decide to dabble in some more "modern" metal, let me know. There's a lot of stuff from the late '80s onwards that's pretty great too. But rather than ramble on and on about Morbid Angel and Dissection and Bathory and Immortal and Carcass and Opeth and Blind Guardian and Darkthrone and Voivod and Emperor and Cradle Of Filth and Neurosis and Finntroll and Falconer etc. etc. etc. I'll stop now... but let me know if you want additional suggestions.

    Anyway, hopefully the proceding longwindedness has been of some slight help. I was happy to see your post, as I too feel that FRPGs and heavy metal go together but I haven't encountered a whole lot of crossover in practice (though I did notice that folks behind the Burning Wheel rpg are definite metal heads, there's even an entire pdf supplement, "Under A Serpent Sun," based on songs by the band At The Gates!).

    Oh wait, I didn't even mention Slough Feg! (Their Traveller album is in the mail to you now...)

  11. Dokken rhymes with rockin for a reason.

    Rock Hard, Ride Free.

  12. Anonymous8:51 PM

    One more...

    Does this count?

    " T'was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
    But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her....yeah."

    Led Zeppelin, Ramble On.

  13. shayne, Led Zepplin always counts. For anything.

  14. Anonymous8:26 AM

    For KISS, start with Double Platinum--it's a greatest hits and a good overview of their early stuff. And totally get a copy of the remastered (Music from) The Elder, because, while less metal than most of their stuff, it totally rocks. It's a concept album. It contains leitmotifs, and no I'm not remotely kidding. You can tell you've got the right version if the first track is "Fanfare" and the last one is "I".

    If you decide Blue Oyster Cult counts, Cult Classic is again a good start, though it does not include "Veteran of the Psychic Wars", which is the song dr-rotwang is quoting (and a fine song it is, too). But once you've got "ETI" and "Flaming Telepaths", you're good to go. I forget what BOC's concept album was called, but it was only so-so IMO.

    I realize Rush is not really metal, but a lot of their early stuff is strongly influenced by Led Zeppelin.

  15. Anonymous11:44 PM

    There are some overlooked Albums here:

    Black Sabbath - Headless Cross (if you ever want to write an adventure about demon worshippers, listen to this album AND read the texts ;-) )

    Bolt Thrower - Realms of Chaos (the name is something known, isn't it?. Yep, this UK band made this album for the (old) Realms of Chaos books of Games Workshop)

    Judas Priest - Ram it Down (on this album is a song named "Under a blood red sky" , it is _the_ Shadowrun song, at least in my opinion)

    Summoning - every album, every song (this band made every album and every song about LotR and Middle-Earth o_O )

    Blind Guardian ... 'nough said ;-))

    do you want more? Just come to Germany to the bigger Cons here. There are many metal fans who can give and show you plenty of material in this direction.