6/07/2011

Published on 6/07/2011 Written by 25 comments

Top 4 Bands That Write Songs Based on Their D&D Campaign

There are many bands out there who like to play loud, ass-kicking, speaker-bursting music with thrashing guitars and pounding drums. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, most of them are total geeks. They may look like hard-ass biker leather fetishists, but in reality they're just D&D and Lord of the Rings nerds who hope that if they sing about dwarves and elves loud enough, people will think they're tough and not pick on them anymore.

He was almost cool. Then he opened his mouth.

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!"

3. Savatage

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.

Of course, they also went on to perform music about Sugarplum Fairies.

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.

But together they make an awesome 8-man acapella group.

2. Dragonforce


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:
  • Fire/flame
  • Sword/steel
  • Dragon
  • Storm
For the rest of the lyrics, they just roll percentiles and pick random words out of the Player's Handbook.


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.

1. Rhapsody

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.

Like this?

25 comments:

  1. AllandarosJune 07, 2011

    Well, in going with "bands that sound like they play D&D," you managed to miss the band actually *named* after a D&D monster: Kyuss (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyuss). 

    Both Blind Guardian (the Soulforged) and Nightwish (Wishmaster) managed to do songs based directly on D&D (or rather, the Dragonlance setting). 

    In the "sounds like they play D&D," 

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  2. Roger Giner-SorollaJune 07, 2011

    3 Inches of Blood rock with song titles such as "Destroy The Orcs", even if they're semi-parodic.

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  3. MigellitoJune 07, 2011

    One time we were getting together to play and one of my players, grinning ear to ear, whips out a brand new cassette he just got, saying "Dungeon Master Music!!" It was the just-released Holy Diver by Dio. heh

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  4. Summoning has a track in Orcish, or rather "The Black Tongue of Mordor"!

    Mirdautas Vras http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUhEsuwp6g8

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  5. Book_ScorpionJune 07, 2011

    Iron Maiden certainly were responsible for many of my more or less geeky interests - they made me read Coleridge and Kipling and watch The Prisoner, to name just a few examples. Also this/a>Tardis

    There's Isengard,  with MERP bandlogo and one band that I think sounds like the yplay D&D is Ensiferum. They have Ents on the stage in concerts. Enough said.

    I was amused when I read this
    post
    on the Morbid Angel discography Cthulhu adventure.

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  6. Phil VecchioneJune 07, 2011

    Manowar and Iced Earth come to mind. I have used Manowar as the sound track to a number of D&D games and even a few X-Crawl games (Warriors of the World is a great X-Crawl opening song).

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  7. AllandarosJune 07, 2011

    Re: Maiden and geeky interests, don't forget "To Tame a Land" - riffing on Dune, and it would have opened with a quote from the novel if Herbert hadn't quashed the idea.

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  8. SlateskiesJune 07, 2011

    It's a shame; ear-splitting guitar-thrashing drum-pounding music is the only kind I have absolutely zero interest in. I'll just have to be content with Stephen Lynch, Jack Black and Weird Al.

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  9. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    Oh, you're right, I can't believe I missed Kyuss.  Especially since they were the fore-runner to Queens of the Stone Age, which is another awesome band (not really D&D-esque, but awesome).

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  10. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    Bands like this are actually much funnier when they're trying to be serious, but I will check them out.  Thanks!

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  11. AllandarosJune 07, 2011

    Cool, I'll have to give Queens of the Stone Age a listen! (Also, in retrospect my original post reads in an overly grumpy tone. I apologize; mornings are, well, mornings.)

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  12. Totally think a nod to Blind Guardian and Nightwish was in order but over all this is a great list. 

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  13. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    Awesome! Extra points because it was on cassette.  YOU know what I'm talking about.  

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  14. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    Bitchin'.

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  15. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    The Morbid Angel thing is kewl.  You can do that with a lot of bands.  I once made an entire 120-card Magic the Gathering expansion and all the cards were named after Metallica and Nine Inch Nails songs.

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  16. Theron BretzJune 07, 2011

    3 Inches of Blood actually used to include updates about their D&D characters on their website (no idea if they still do).

    I've got a Pandora station (Elfcore!!!) devoted to this style of music:

    http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh169630278822637177

    Feel free to check it out.

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  17. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    No worries.  We all hate mornings. :-)

    But no one can hate this song, or the video, for that matter:

    http://youtu.be/DcHKOC64KnE

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  18. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    While I have nothing against any of those artists, you really have to expand your horizons. ;-)

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  19. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    *scribbles, adding to the list for next time*

    Thank you!

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  20. CDGallant_KingJune 07, 2011

    It was fun, but I'm definitely going to have to do an extended list some day.  Or maybe a "part 2." Thank you!

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  21. Book_ScorpionJune 08, 2011

    I had just seen Dune when I first heard To Tame a Land and I just sat there with such a big grin. And the cover of Somewhere in Time is all kinds of awesome - I have most Maiden albums on vinyl for all the details.

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  22. Joe NelsonJune 09, 2011

    Iron Maiden...hell yeah! For me, nothing matches them when writing out epic campaign plot seeds.

    Shamefully I've never listened to Savatage before. I go now to correct this as quickly as humanly possible.

    Though they aren't really D&D or RPG based at all, I also enjoy listening to Apocolyptica's Inquisition Symphony album when writing up campaigns and game plots. I love some heavy instrumental for clearing my head. No need for lyrics to intrude in the epic monster slaying.

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  23. JsalvatoriJune 09, 2011

    You know you've talked about most of my favourite bands... Also look up Amon Amarth - Norse mythology based epic metal.
    A few more to add that aren't quite as D&D, but are still "epic":Dream TheatreVulvagun (I know, ridiculous name, but good band)SerenityThere are tons more too.Oh, and I'm up for an Emerald Sword adventure any time you want.  I want to play Loinir.

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  24. Maverik EntertainmentOctober 23, 2012

    Band of Orcs - Nekrogoblikon - Heralds of The Sword. 'Nuff Said

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  25. Or how about Weezer?! In the Garage straight up says "I've got my 12 sided die, I've got a dungeon masters guide." And the blue album went double platinum!

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