Amon Amarth, Gorgoroth, Burzum, these are just a few bands who metal fans assumed were some of the most brutal the genre has to offer, but few are aware that these bands very foundations are bathed in the nerd loving history of J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast Middle Earth folklore. It’s funny to look back on a band like Burzum or Gorgoroth, who take themselves and their art very seriously, and suddenly realize they come from the same subculture who has often been stereotyped as skinny geeks who never get laid.
It does make sense when you think about it, all of these black metal bands do love to dress up much like cosplay fans who proudly adorn the detailed armor of a wood elf. Would you ever imagine that the frontman of Dimmu Borgir is actually named after an Orc? When I first started getting into black metal long ago, I was under the impression these musicians had a rich history that was deeply rooted in their own culture. A culture that had such a dark past, and one that would inspire their band names and song titles from the very fabric of said darkness. Needless to say I was quite surprised when I found out a healthy majority of black metal bands were actually inspired by my favorite series of modern fiction.
So why is there such a strong connection between these two realms of heavy music and fantastical fiction? The answer is simple, and it shouldn’t take a genius to realize that heavy metal has always been inspired by the more fantasy driven side of fiction. Whether it be a medieval battle setting or even a blood sucking story from the Carpathian Mountains, these types of fiction have long since been paired with this style of music. Even legendary rock acts like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath have released blatant homages to the world Tolkien created.
Despite the fact that some may still consider this to be the epitome of corny geek culture, I personally find nothing wrong with it. There’s no denying the fact that art imitates art, and novelized fiction will always have an influence on those who create sonic landscapes. In fact, music and other forms of creativity would be quite stale had it not been for the inspiration found in so many different forms of art throughout our history. Whether it be stories, films, paintings, or songs, there will always be someone out there who appreciates the more imaginative side of life.