Although I'm sure we could list thousands of bands that could fall into the genre, I'm just going to list The Top 4 Bands That Write Songs Based on Their D&D Campaigns. Actually, they're just my 4 favourites, but whatever.
4. Iron Maiden
Seriously, how many kids back in the 80s ran home after school to play D&D and listen to Iron Maiden? Well, probably not THAT many, but if you're reading a blog about role-playing games and you're over 30 years old, you know what I'm talking about.
Nowadays, these guys seems pretty harmless and kinda cheesy (hell, many of their songs were history lessons, or romantic epic poems set to music), but back in the day parents thought these guys were pure evil, much like D&D. Iron Maiden cassettes and funny-shaped dice often got tossed in the garbage together, because they just had to be related somehow (probably all those references to devils).
Dudes in bands back in the 80s really took care of their hair.Tell me you can't picture these guys rushing home from the studio after recording that track and going "awesome, man, I totally have to put some of those monsters in the adventure tonight!"
Before they were the founders of the Trans-Siberian Ochestra, they were a metal band called Savatage. They started in the 80s, when it was cool for guys to have big hair and tight pants. It wasn't cool to talk about dwarves stealing treasure from sorcerer kings under mountains, but fuck it, they sang about that, too.
Their music was heavily inspired by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and their lyrics were heavily inspired by Gary Gygax and Tolkein.
Ah, the 80s. A simpler time, when it was okay to have little people in bad prosthethics and a dopey looking hairdresser in a cravat in your music videos.
Many fans were pissed that they didn't "make it big" until they started doing Christmas Music full time, but hey, what can you do? Jesus pays better than dwarves.
Dragonforce got a huge burst in popularity a few years ago thanks to Guitar Hero. If you recall, their shredding tune "Through the Fire and the Flame" was featured as a bonus track on Guitar Hero III, and became one of the most popular songs on a stupidly-popular game. Mostly because being able to get through it on the highest difficulty setting was a badge of honour for both 14-year olds and drunken frat boys alike.
Dragonforce SHOULD have been popular because they sang about dragons and fire. They SHOULD have done the soundtrack for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. They SHOULD be rolling in piles of money and drugs, like Smaug rolling in piles of gold. (Actually, they probably are on drugs. I saw them live a couple of years ago, and I swear no human being can play like that for 90 minutes straight without enough amphetemines in their system to make a horse's heart explode.)
Pick up any Dragonforce CD and look at the track listing on the back. Out of 8 to 10 song titles, there are probably around 40 words or so between them. I guarantee you that at least 25 of them are variations of the following words:
It's unfortunate that for a song about fires and dragons, the video's only special effect is the camera guy shaking the camera, as if the band's music is so powerful it's causing an earthquake.
No one beats the Europeans when it comes to blending screaming metal with Tolkien/Gygax influences. And no one does it better than Rhapsody.
Described by Allmusic.com as "elaborately conceived progressive baroque power metal," and endorsed by none other than Christopher Lee himself (Christopher Lee of course being the most awesome person who ever lived - check out his bio and trivia on IMDB.com), Rhapsody is an Italian metal band also known as Thundercross and Rhapsody of Fire. No one, not even Dragonforce on a good day, can jam as much fire, steel and dragons into a song as these guys. Not only that, but their albums are often epic, operatic concept pieces that tell an over-arching storyline. They have five records that comprise the Emerald Sword Saga which tells the story of the heroic Warrior of Ice battling against the evil Akron, the Black King. Seriously, this is just BEGGING to be turned into an old-school RPG campaign. It has monsters, dungeons, NPCs, cities and backstory, all ready to go.
I can't decide if this is a power metal music video, or an extended advertisement for a LARP camp. Either way, it's six kinds of awesome.
Anyway, I'm sure I've probably missed your favourite nerd metal band, so go ahead and point them out to me in the comments below. Seriously, I need new tunes for my iPod.