30 April 2012

Z is for Ze end! (A-Z 2012)

Ivory Shores by Dragonland
from the album Under the Grey Banner
"Someday you'll see forever I'm yours.
Once more we'll be on the ivory shores"

Quite often, fantasy metal albums will have an epilogue track as an outro to wind up and finish off the story arc. Ivory Shores is a beautiful track that perfectly finishes Drgonland's 3 album epic tale.
And that's the end of the 2012 A-Z Challenge! This year has been very challenging especially with losing a laptop half way through. My thanks go out to those of you who still managed to swing by and comment here despite me having no online presence. You guys rock! I hope I've given you a bit of an insight into this genre and hopefully you've discovered a few new musicians that you'd like to listen more of.

What was your favourite part of this years challenge?

28 April 2012

Y is for Yesteryear (A-Z 2012)

A-Z blogging challenge buttonNew Horizons by Serenity
from the album Death and Legacy

"New horizons for this son of English shores,
and the fire of the cannons lights the way"

Most fantasy stories are based on places and events in Earth's history, so many fantasy metal songs are also historical. Death and Legacy looks at the period of exploration and constant war of the early Renaissance and gives a good insight into the sense of fear and wonder at the time.

 What historical period would you like to see covered in music?

27 April 2012

X is for Xeno (A-Z 2012)


Contact  by Dragonland
from the album Astronomy

"See the fire in the cloudless skies,
Bright reflections of lights in my eyes."

Astronomy is a brilliant collection of songs about, you guessed it, astronomy (for the most part). Dragonland certainly know how to  put the essence of otherworldliness into their music, and you can feel this in Contact. This song is about what would happen when we make first contact with intelligent life outside of our planet - we think they are our saviours, but in reality they're cold, calculating vessels of genocide.

What are your thoughts on the whole 'intelligent life exists somewhere else in the universe'? Do you think we're ever likely to make contact?

26 April 2012

W is for Welsh (A-Z 2012)


Blood Red Diamond by Lost in Thought
from the album Opus Arise

"The ancients cast the sands of time,
her pain was lost in an endless shrine."

What else did you expect from me with today's letter than a Welsh prog metal band? Lost in Thought are a fairly new band from Swansea, and they've got an excellent sound.

They've supported Serenity on a few of their tours, and I've been lucky enough to have seen them live. What makes it even better is that they're the first local prog/power metal band that I've found.

Do you know of any bands local to you that you want to give shout out to?

25 April 2012

V is for Vampires (A-Z 2012)


This post is written on my iPad. I'll fix the formatting and embed the video soon. For now, click the link below to listen to the song.

Poetry for the Poisoned by Kamelot
from the album Poetry for the Poisoned

"A bloody kiss, and the vision of a dream,
For the last of your days in the sun."

Kamelot are up here for a third time because they're my all time favourite power metal band. They know how to encompass sweeping arcs and epic stories with their music and imagery.

Poetry for the Poisoned is a four part epic that tells of a vampire siring a young woman and showing her how to hunt. It then turns out that the fledgling vampire has an strong bloodlust and cannot be controlled.

What version of the vampire myth do you think works best? What's your favourite example?

24 April 2012

U is for Underrated (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

A to Z of fantasy metalWritten by 

Through Fire and Flames by Dragonforce
from the album Inhuman Rampage

"As the red daw is dawning and the lightning cracks the sky,
they'll raise their hands to the heavens above with resentment in their eyes."

Just as fantasy is a hugely underrated genre in literature, so power and symphonic metal are underrated in the realm of music, and I think it's largely for the same reasons. The fantastic imagery, sprawling worlds and heroic characters can seem too 'unreal' for many listeners, and their suspension of disbelief won't hold out long enough to digest the imagery of the music. That, and some people can't handle epic guitar shredding.

Dragonforce were one of the bands who brought power metal to a much wider audience and introduced a lot of people to the genre. This brought them a little backlash from power metal 'purists' who thought they'd gone too mainstream for gaining so much popularity through their involvement with Guitar Hero, making them look like a gimmick rather than a legitimate band. Rubbish. They did a good job and brought many new fans udner the fold. Excelsior.

Do you have any authors or musicians that you think are underrated?

T is for tag-team (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by 

Dying for an Angel by Avantasia feat. Klaus Meine (the Scorpions)
from the album The Wicked Symphony

"Gonna tear down the walls of love and light.
You have come on your own; you will go on all alone."

Avantasia are renowned for their team-ups with other metal heavyweights including Roy Khan (Kamelot), Alice Cooper and Klaus Meine (The Scorpions). The band is essentially a way for front man Tobias Samnett to flex his collaborative muscles, and it works really well.

In music, as in fiction, our heroes can never walk it alone, but only succeed with the support of others.

Who would be your ideal tag-team partner/sidekick?

23 April 2012

S is of Sci-fi (A-Z 2012)

Written by 

Update: I've managed to rewrite the post, so it'll be republished with the new info. Thanks for your patience :)

A to Z of fantasy metal
The Clouding by Iced Earth
from the album Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1

"Never trust in the motives of Man,
they fail to involve in Mother Nature's plan."

Although we've had our differences, fantasy and sci-fi are very closely linked together, and the range shown by Iced Earth clearly demonstrates this (hence why this is the third time they've appeared here ... that and they keep changing their vocalist so they keep creating new sounds).

The Something Wicked saga tells of an ancient race called the Setians whose planet is invaded by humans. The humans slaughter the Setian people, and with only 10,000 of the race surviving the Setians plot Mankind's downfall. This begins with The Clouding, a weapon designed to wipe the minds of all humans so they have no memory of their past or their identity.

This is one of my favourite Iced Earth songs, mainly for its very 80s style of psychedelic rock riffs and Pink Floyd-esque guitars. It's quite a sleepy song, which reflects the nature of The Clouding itself.

If your mind had been wiped and you could create your own identity anew, what path would you choose?

Iced Earth Official Site
Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1 on iTunes
Iced Earth on YouTube
The Clouding on Amazon

20 April 2012

R is for ROCK! (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by 
Kings of Metal by Manowar
from the album Kings of metal

"We're gonna keep on burning, always will.
Other bands play, Manowar kill."

Manowar are as epic as they are cheesy. They were one of the pioneers of creating a fantasy-like image to suit their style of music that has bred into power and symphonic metal. A lot of their songs are about how awesome heavy metal is, and has inspired bands like Dream Evil, Hammerfall and Van Canto.

What ROCKS for you? What gets your toes tapping and your head banging? Recommendations are always welcome.

Manowar official site
Kings of Metal on iTunes
Manowar on YouTube
Kings of Metal on Amazon

19 April 2012

Q is for Quest (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by 
Delirium Veil by Twilightning
from the album Delirium Veil

"Day by day, make your way,
Though leviathans of the depths seem almost unbeatable."

The quest is an important part of any fantasy story, as it encompasses both the external journey (the plot) and the internal journey (the character arc). Quests have become a staple in the fantasy genre, and usually sees the protagonist on a journey to save/find an important object, or to rally people to war against the villain.

Delirium Veil is a fast paced power metal song that spurs you on to your quest and gives you the strength to overcome the odds.

Twilightning official site
Delerium Veil on iTunes
Twilightning on YouTube
Delerium Veil on Amazon

What would be your weapon of choice on your quest?

18 April 2012

P is for Pirates (A-Z 2012)


A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by 
Keelhauled by Alestorm
from the album Black Sails at Midnight

"Keelhaul that filthy landlubber, send him down to the depth below,
Make that bastard walk the plank, with a bottle of rum and a yo, ho, ho."

I discovered Alestorm completely at random while flicking through CDs at a market stall. They're pure Scottish pirate metal, and all of their songs deal with sailing the seas, drinking rum, walking the plank and all the awesomeness of being a pirate.

Keelhauled shows what punishment awaits traitors and those who commit mutiny - being dragged underneath the ship by ropes. Power metal with an accordion makes for a delightfully silly song.

As an added bonus, the band themselves have done a song called P is for Pirate. Enjoy!

Alestorm official site
Black Sails at Midnight on iTunes
Alestorm on YouTube
Keelhauled on Amazon

The age old question - pirates vs. ninjas: who would win and why?

17 April 2012

O is for Optimism (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by 
Number One by Helloween
from the album Pink Bubbles Go Ape

"Trust your father's mighty spell, you'll never be alone.
Fate will always turn out well and you'll be number one."

Number One is one of my favourite power metal songs because it's one of the rare ones that are so blatantly happy and optimistic. If I'm ever in a down spot this song will perk me up.

Helloween are an important band as they were one of the pioneers of power metal.

Helloween official site
Pink Bubbles Go Ape on iTunes
Helloween on YouTube
Number One on Amazon

Are you optimistic? What makes you happy?

16 April 2012

N is for Nightmares (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Don't Say a Word by Sonata Arctica
from the album Reckoning Night

"But stay alive this night,
I promise you the end before first light arrives."

Sonata Arctica are a progressive metal group that often delve into the realms of horror and the fantastic. In Don't Say A Word, a man loses his mind (or becomes possessed) and speaks to his love the night before he murders her. His insanity has become her living nightmare.

Like many of their songs, Don't Say A Word messes with timing throughout the song to keep you tense as the MC's insanity grows.

Sonata Arctica official site
Reckoning Night on iTunes
Sonata Arctica on YouTube
Don't Say A Word on Amazon

What features in your nightmares?

14 April 2012

M is for Mithril (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Durnir's Forge by Dragonland
from the album Under the Grey Banner

"Onwards and down I go and into deepest gorge
A fragile hope I will find down at Dûrnirs Forge."

I had to get the word Mithril in here at some point. For the fans of Tolkien amongst you, you'll know that mithril is a metal that was mined by the dwarfs. Hmm ... dwarf metal? Yes, there is such a thing.

Durnir's Forge is part of a three album epic called the Dragonland Chronicles, where the hero ventures down into the heart of a mountain to get the assistance of the Dwarf king in fighting against an evil tyrant.

Dragonland official site
Under the Grey Banner on iTunes
Dragonland on YouTube
Durnir's Forge on Amazon

Do you think the traditional fantasy characters (elves, dwarfs, orcs) have had their day?

13 April 2012

L is for Lamentation (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
A Sailorman's Hymn by Kamelot
from the album The Fourth Legacy

"She lights up a candle for hope  to be found,
captive and blind by the darkness around."

Lamentation features a lot in fantasy fiction. Characters lament the land that they've left behind as they venture out, the loves that they've been forced to leave for their own safety, and the lives that they'll never live again. They miss these things in order to show how far they've come since then and the changes that they've brought about.

A Sailorman's Hymn sets the scene of a woman who laments the loss of her love, and awaits his return by ship every night. The lamentation is mixed with a glimmer of hope and promise as she is certain that he will return to her.

Kamelot official site
The Fourth Legacy on iTunes
Kamelot on YouTube
A Sailorman's Hymn on Amazon

What things do your characters lament?

12 April 2012

K is for Kings and Queens (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metalWritten by

Tower of the Queen by Falconer
from the album Northwind

"Hold onto your throne of glass,
let not oblivion veil your name".

Where would a good fantasy be without a monarchy? More to the point, where would a good fantasy be without a royal coup and a plot to overthrow the queen?

This is what The Tower of the Queen deals with, and Falconer do a good job of mixing the fate of the jester with that of the queen. In fact, they're quite good at dealing with class division and retribution in fantasy worlds within a lot of their songs.

Falconer official site
Northwind on iTunes
Falconer on YouTube
Tower of the Queen on Amazon

Do you like politics and intrigue in your reading?

11 April 2012

J is for Jokes (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metalWritten by

Lavatory Love Machine by Edguy
from the album Hellfire Club

"Lavatory love machine,
no fear can quell my steam".

Power metal isn't all about dragons, wizards and battle. Sometimes you need to bring a little bit of funny into your music. Lavatory Love Machine is about, well, joining the Mile High Club. The song and the video that go with it are pretty silly, and it goes to show that we all need a laugh now and again.

Edguy official site
Hellfire Club on iTunes
Edguy on YouTube
Lavatory Love Machine on Amazon

What tickles your funny bone?

Written by

10 April 2012

I is for Inspiration (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metalWritten by 
Watch the World Collapse by Borealis
from the album Fall from Grace

"The sky is torn, the world is burning,
I can't escape this hell".

This is a pretty new entry to my playlist but I instantly liked it . Watch the World Collapse is a song that speaks of someone witnessing the end of the word and describes is on a global as well as on a personal level.

This song is great to listen to and inspires me as I write, especially in dealing with world building, atmosphere and internal/external conflict.

Borealis official site
Fall from Grace on iTunes
Borealis on YouTube
Watch the World Collapse on Amazon

What or who inspires you?

9 April 2012

H is for Horror (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Dragon's Child by Iced Earth
from the album Horror Show

"Nature's mistake, he sees no end,
the dragon's child walks among man".

Horror Show is Iced Earth's tribute to the old horror stories of the 1930s - Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man etc. An excellent album for listening to the stories of our beloved movie monsters through song.

Dragon's Child is dedicated to The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and you get a sense of otherworldlyness as well as impending dread of the and fear of the creature.

Unlike the previous Dante's Inferno, this track is sun by former singer Matt Barlow.

Iced Earth official site 
Horror Show on iTunes
Iced Earth on YouTube
Dragon's Child on Amazon

Which horror characters scare you the most?

7 April 2012

G is for Glory metal (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Blood Bound by Hammerfall
from the album Chaptver V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken

"Countdown, descending down to zero.
Bursting into flames."

Hammerfall were one of the first power metal bands that I got into, and they were a great introduction to this genre. If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to be a knight, then these guys will tell you.

All of their songs are about the glory of battle and chivalry, and Blood Bound is no exception. Glory, power and the bonds of brotherhood are all covered in an uplifting and heroic tune.

Hammerfall official site
Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken on iTunes
Hammerfall on YouTube
Blood Bound on Amazon

What glory do you seek with your blog or your writing? What is at the end of your quest?

6 April 2012

F is for Folk metal (A-Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Northwind by Falconer
from the album Northwind

"Northwind embrace me as I face the horizon.
Carry me safe ashore as you did me bretheren of yore."

Falconer use a lot of different elements in their songs that give it a sense of otherworldlyness. Their roots are planted in Swedish and Viking-inspired settings, so folklore and superstition play a big part in their music.

Northwind tells of an adventurer sailing home after a long voyage, and appealing to the gods and the spirits to guide him home safely.

Falconer official site
Northwind on iTunes
Falconer on YouTube

Are you superstitious? What superstitions do you have?

5 April 2012

E is for Easter metal (A to Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Up Through the Ashes by Kamelot
from the album Ghost Opera

"You the people must decide -
the self proclaimed prophet or the novice murderer.
The King or the Convict, it's up to you. "

I'll preface this post by saying that, at some point, all religious stories become the stuff of myth (just like the stories of the ancients, true as they were to the those who knew them, have become fantasy to us). The story of the Crucifixion, therefore, will eventually become part of Christian mythology and of the fantasy corpus. Up Through the Ashes tells of the political dilemma of Roman governor Pontius Pilate regarding the fate of Christ, and his subsequent washing of the hands.
On a side note, this fan video was made by yours truly, taking clips from the movie Passion of the Christ. (WARNING: Graphic scenes due to it being about the crucifixion and that).

Kamelot official site
Ghost Opera on iTunes
Kamelot on YouTube

What's your favourite religious/mythological story?

4 April 2012

D is for Dystopian metal (A to Z 2012) and IWSG April

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Rust of Coming Ages by Serenity
from the album Fallen Sanctuary

"Exposed to oxidation, slow disintegration leaving trace.
Corroding for all days."

Rust of Coming Ages sets the tone for a post-apocalyptic future where all technology has ceased to exist. I imagine a Fallout-esque desolate wasteland when I hear this (with a little bit of steampunk thrown in), and it's a good one to listen to for world building inspiration. I was lucky enough to hear them play this live a few weeks back, and it was epic!

Serenity official site
Fallen Sanctuary on iTunes
Serenity on YouTube

This is also April's edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. In line with the theme of the song above, writing a dystopian or post-apocalyptic piece is difficult in order to not come across as unoriginal (after all, how many barren wastelands can look different from one another?).

When world building for such a scenario, the origins of the world are vitally important. A barren world caused by a comet will be entirely different to one where zombies have taken over, which will be different again to one where the sun has disappeared.
 Once you've worked out your main hook (that's usually the first thing that inspires you to write) make sure you know how the world came to be.

Maybe not include it in your story, but it's vital in order to work out the ecological and environmental impact of these events in order to create the hook in your world building that you desire.  

What would your post-apocalyptic world look like?

3 April 2012

C is for Concept metal (A to Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Dante's Inferno by Iced Earth
from the album Dystopia
(re-recorded, original album Burnt Offerings)

"Enter the sixth circle, a barren land in flames
Passing through the Gate of Dis the furies scream her name

Dante's Inferno is an epic seventeen minute track that takes us through the entire journey from The Divine Comedy: Inferno, through all nine circles of Hell from Limbo to Lucifer himself. As a concept song, Dante's Inferno has it all, and tells the full story in all its gory glory.

This version of the song was re-recorded when new vocalist Stu Block joined the band, though the original track is just as epic.
Iced Earth official site 
Dystopia on iTunes
Iced Earth on YouTube

What story would you like to hear in song form?

2 April 2012

B is for Ballads (A to Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Losing You by Dream Evil
from the album Dragonslayer

"I have fought so many battles, I have suffered so much pain.
Without you to love and hold me, all of this will be in vain."

Dream Evil's debut album is an ambitious concept album dealing with a group of warriors sent on a quest to defeat a dragon. Losing You is the lament of one of these warriors who has left behind his love as he seeks glory. Dream Evil also often advocate how awesome it is to be a fan of heavy metal in their songs (and they're not wrong!)

Dream Evil official site
Dragonslayer on iTunes
Dream Evil on YouTube 

What sentimental item would you take with you on a quest?

1 April 2012

A is for A capella metal (A to Z 2012)

A to Z of fantasy metal
Written by
Magic Taborea by Van Canto
from the album Tribe of Force

"I feel the magic running through my veins
A prophecy is fulfilled these days"

Van Canto is a unique band that consists of five vocalists and a drummer, where the voices play the parts of guitar, bass and keyboard. Their self proclaimed 'hero metal' deals with stories of glory, battle and magic. It's high fantasy in music form. This song was made for the MMORPG Runes of Magic.

Van Canto Official Site
Tribe of Force on iTunes
Van Canto on YouTube 

 What would be your magical ability in this kind of world?