12 Oct 2011

Concept albums that are based on literature

EDIT: I've linked my favourite tracks to the song titles rather than embed them in the post. It looks less cluttered that way.

I've said before that I'm a big fan of power/progressive/symphonic metal (hereon in called fantasy metal) because of the fantasy imagery in the lyrics and in the music itself. There's an almost literary quality to the genre as it deals with sweeping story arcs and imagined lands. Fantasy metal draws its inspiration from novels and folklore, so it's no surprise that there are concept albums that are based entirely around books. Here are my favourites.

Kamelot - Epica and The Black Halo
[based on Faust by Goethe]

Kamelot is my favourite fantasy metal band, and this two-part epic is the reason why. The MC, Ariel sells his soul to the demon Mephisto in order for untold knowledge and power.

My favourite song from these albums is Descent of the Archangel, where Ariel sells his soul to Mephisto.

Vanden Plas - Christ 0
[based on The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas]

Christ 0 reinterprets the original Dumas novel in a more modern setting, showing a man who is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. Vanden Plas use orchestral pieces and large choirs to give their music a very epic feel.

My favourite track from this album is called Fireroses Dance. I'm not greatly familiar with the novel, so I'm not sure which part of the story it covers.

Nightfall in Middle-Earth - Blind Guardian
[based on The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien]

Blind Guardian are likely to be the archetypal fantasy metal band. They are heavily influenced by Lord of the Rings, and Nightfall in Middle-Earth is no exception. The album chronicles the events of The Silmarillion, the prequel to The Hobbit.

The whole album is teeming with Tolkien-y goodness, but if I have to pick a track it would be Nightfall.

The Dark Saga - Iced Earth
[based on the Spawn graphic novels by Todd MacFarlane]

Iced Earth are another band that are heavily influenced by fantasy and sci-fi in their work (check out their 17-minute epic of Dante's Inferno and their horror-themed concept album Horror Show). The Dark Saga follows a man who sells his soul to the Devil for the woman he loves, only to find that she has betrayed him.

The best track on this album for me is A Question of Heaven, where the protagonist realises that he cannot escape the bargain he has made.

So those are my top picks for metal albums that are based on books.
Do you like music that is based on literature? Are you a fan of concept albums like these?