Swords of Steel: A Metal Homage To Pulp-Fantasy

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Swords of Paperback

Throughout its history, swords & sorcery has been an integral part of heavy metal. From the very first Black Sabbath album back in ’70 to the latest Grand Magus record in 2016, fireballs have flown and steel clashed against steel in a fight most noble. Tales reminiscent of the adventure and horror-tinged stories of the pulp-era have secured a strong foothold in the hearts of metalheads. Many of us have pictured ourselves facing dragons with our massive blades erected (better have that fire insurance) or joining the pillaging, plundering, murdering rapists known as vikings on one of their totally honorable conquests. [Editor’s Note: I’ve never once pictured these things. Y’all some nerds.]

If you count yourself among these dreamers, congratulations on becoming one of us I’ve got news for you, boy. No longer will you merely have to content yourself with lyrics about black hounds of vengeance ripping their prey to pieces, continually interrupted by a fist-pumping chorus. By the grace of the good people at DMR Books you can now actually read original fantasy stories in Lovecraftian/Robert E. Howardian vein, penned by your favorite metal lyricists.

SwordsOfStelae SwordsOfSteele

If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you’re a metal music enthusiast, and as such the very fact that all of the featured writers are metal musicians should be its own appeal. First up is Byron A. Roberts. If you’re not familiar with his band, Bal-Sagoth, you’ve been missing out. Roberts’ lyrics have always been short stories ranging from Conan- like, evil witches rallying armies of chaos to foolish archaeologists releasing malign gods and suffering the consequences. Bal-Sagoth is centered on Roberts acting these stories over the best fantasy-metal ever created, which makes him no newcomer – and you’ve got checking out to do.

Kor-Avul-Thaa… finest jewel in the crown of a realm of sublime glory,
greatest city in the Middle Kingdoms, mayhap all the world… Its splendid
walls of shimmering crystal could be seen from a hundred leagues distant,
kissed by the golden rays of the sun, or caressed by the ethereal fingers of a
midnight moon. Its magnificent spires and citadels, built by generations of
kings from the resplendent gifts hewn from the ancient bosom of the sacred
Crystal Mountains, had oft’ times been the bitter envy of rival emperors, and
many were the sieges which Kor-Avul-Thaa had withstood and repulsed over the
centuries, for powerful sorcerers did weave great spells of protection about
the dazzling towers, and none may have passed unbidden through the vast
sapphir ean gates of mighty Kor-Avul-Thaa…

Mike Scalzi, the former guitarist/vocalist in Hammers of Misfortune and the powerhouse behind (The Lord Weird) Slough Feg, is another name that ought to make these collections interesting. Albums like Traveller and Hardworlder are filled to the brim with not only sweet, precious guitarmonies, but also with sci-fi inspired tales, with the former being a concept album inspired by the GDW role-playing game of the same name.

I am a space pirate, you know my name
Asteroid mining is a dangerous game
Imperial navy can’t keep up my pace
Chasing a rock into Zhodani space

You heard about me in the frontier wars
Psionic menace carrying alien spores
A living legend in the asteroid mines
Outvoting tariffs and imperial fines
One-thousand credits is my humble price
Whether it’s nickel, iron, stone or ice
Only the wayfaring patron would dare
A merchant cruiser, a skyway corsair

Other writers whose stories will be appearing in the collections, but with whose lyricism I am unfortunately less familiar with, include E. C. Hellwell of Manilla Road, James Ashbey of the recently featured Solstice, Sean Weingartner of Eternal Champion, Scott Waldrop of Twisted Tower Dire, Jeffrey “Mantas” Dunn of Venom, Howie K. Bentley of Cauldron Born and… uh… Jaron Evil of ARCHSPIREARCHPIREARCHSPIRE.

Order the first part here and the second part here. You can also download this sampler, that includes tracks from all participating bands, as well as a 25-page PDF of excerpts from the book.


Go like DMR Books on the book ov faeces and tell them the Toilet sends its utmost regards.

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  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    For a minute I thought this was a Randall article. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was was Karhu.

  • Dubbbz

    This is a rad post, dude. I’ve always enjoyed Byron Roberts’ silly persona.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j893OnQrd6w

  • Guacamole Jim

    I thought this was a joke article, until I got the end and realised the punch line wasn’t coming. That being said, I’m a fan of Conan-style low fantasy, and could probably dig it!

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Robert E Howard >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Howard Dean

    NERDS

    (But +1 for Slough Feg and Manilla Road references).

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Scott Waldrop son of Howard? Those are some big shoes to fill…

  • Waynecro

    I’m really not big on fantasy and barbarians and all that, but I think getting metal lyricists to write actual stories is a pretty super thing. They should get Pig Destroyer’s J. R. Hayes in on this. I’d like to read a story about a schizophrenic viking with a substance-abuse problem who stalks (and eventually tortures/murders) a barbarian princess who doesn’t return his love.

    • Eliza

      I’m more of a high fantasy fan myself, but I think this could be really great.

      • ROLL FOR INITIATIVE NOW, ELIZA!

        • Abradolf Lincler

          NATURAL 20

        • Eliza

          ^_^

      • Waynecro

        I guess what I’m trying to say is I really, really, really like Hayes’s writing style and would probably read anything he writes, even if it were fantasy (which I’m really not into).

        • Eliza

          I see. How could you not be into fantasy though?

          • Abradolf Lincler

            he rolled low starting CHA

          • Waynecro

            I don’t know. I like steel weapons, valor, and battle, but the fantasy setting just doesn’t do much for me. Maybe I have an aversion to animal-fur loincloths.

          • Eliza

            It’s not all like that. Try anything by Tolkien (my favourite of his books is Silmarillion, but I’m not sure you should start with that) and you’ll see how mind blowing fantasy can be.

          • Waynecro

            I’ve read some Tolkien and a few other random fantasy books here and there, but none of it ever did much for me. Perhaps I’m just too miserable to enjoy magic and whimsy.

          • Eliza

            If it’s not your thing, that’s it, but I can’t understand how you couldn’t be moved by Tolkien’s work. It chaned my life.

          • Waynecro

            I admire Tolkien’s skill as a writer and philologist, and his vast imagination is impressive; however, I never really enjoyed his books all that much. I think I’m more moved by the works of authors such as Dostoyevsky, Maugham, Bukowski, and Kafka. It’s awesome that Tolkien’s work changed your life, though. You just never know when a piece of art will have a massive effect on you.

          • Eliza

            It’s not such a big deal. I like Kafka too.

          • Waynecro

            Have you read Kafka’s “Unhappiness” short story? I really love that one.

          • Need to check that one out.

          • Waynecro

            It’s really short and really bizarre.

          • Eliza

            I didn’t, but I’ll get to it eventually. I’m reading Les Mis now and I don’t want to start anything before finishing that.

          • ‘La Metamorfosis’ de Franz Kafka is one of my favorite books of all time, Wayne! 🙂 It’s incredible how his wordcraft gave so much to the atmosphere of the tale.

          • Waynecro

            Hell yeah, man! Did you ever see the episode of the cartoon Home Movies in which they did a rock-opera version of The Metamorphosis? So great!

          • I haven’t saw Home Movies. But, let me tell you, that the beginning of The Metamorphosis was an inspiration on my college days during my journalism studies 🙂

          • Waynecro

            That’s awesome. That story was definitely the focus of several writing classes when I was in college.

          • Yay! We have a connection.

          • Waynecro

            Melodeath and The Metamorphosis, bro!

          • I’M IN LOVE.

          • Waynecro

            BRO!!!

          • SUCH A GOOD SHOW

          • Waynecro

            ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITES

          • BobLoblaw

            You should pick up “The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind” by Julian Jaynes. Way too much to get into here but its definitely something that can change your outlook on human history and “society” in general.

          • Waynecro

            Thanks! I’m pretty sure I read some of that in school. I’ll have to check it out again.

          • BobLoblaw

            Its at least an interesting if not a probable theory.

          • Abradolf Lincler
    • Abradolf Lincler

      you might should check in to some of the dark fantasy stuff man, like Glen Cook

      • Abradolf Lincler

        or Joe Abercrombie

        • Waynecro

          I’ll check them out, but I rarely read fiction at all these days. I’m usually reading philosophy books and stuff. Know thyself and all that.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            pfffffff knowin myself seems like a p stupid thing to do

          • Waynecro

            Honestly, it is a bummer for the most part.

          • BobLoblaw

            Thats what LSD is for.

  • Waynecro

    “Editor’s Note: I’ve never once pictured these things. Y’all some nerds.” This made my day.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    I’ve been looking forward to this article for a while! Thanks Karhu. I really need to get these books.

  • This is something I blindly support. Good content, mighty Beargod, you’re always welcomed at my Kingdom!

  • Randall’s Sweaty Space Pants

    Links to order these are down. Good job, you stupid needs.

  • JWEG

    Archspire’s story: one page long, no spaces and minimal punctuation (mostly exclamation points), uses every single letter in the alphabet in as many possible combinations as possible in that one page.

    …so, basically, a representation of a random page from a random book in a random room of the Library of Babel.

    http://cdn8.openculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/26191012/Red-Book.jpg

    • BobLoblaw

      Thats the criticism against most of metal.

    • Dubbbz

      Borges reference?

      • JWEG

        Whenever possible.

  • Eliza

    This books are a very creative idea. I’ll download the sample once I’m not relying on shitty modem internet.

  • tigeraid

    This is a thing. That I will read.

    (Also I saw Scalzi and thought John Scalzi was schlumming it with amateurs. wat.)

    • DMR Books

      John Scalzi thought the same thing when he first saw it, too.

  • Stockhausen

    You nerds with your dang books and fancy word havings.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    DMR showed up in the comments! Hot damn!

  • I was sick and asleep all day yesterday. So glad to see this shared! Thank you, bear!