Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

The title of this post really ought to read, “Harry Potter Metal, or On the Use and Abuse of Irony for Music (apologies, as are so frequently due, to F.W. Nietzsche).”

Now, I’m sure that I’m a few years late to this particular party, but after a couple of Blind Guardian tracks just kicked out of my stereo, I suddenly remembered reading a while back about some Harry Potter-themed bands.  Obviously, with such a friggin’ enormous cultural phenomenon as the Harry Potter books (& movies, & video games, & tea cozies, & chewing tobacco, &, if the television’s carpet-bombing campaign of commercials is to be believed, theme parks, &c., &c.), one ought to expect its influence to spread far and wide.  A quick bit of internet research (well, if typing and clicking are admissible under the banner of ‘research’ these days, at least) jogged my memory of an indie rock-type band called Harry & The Potters, by two brothers from Massachusetts.  Pretty cutesy, I guess, and even better when I find out that the proceeds of what they’ve done are going to various literary nonprofits.  Good on ’em, although the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club (no, I’m not fucking joking) makes me gag more than a little.

Now, however, a bit more research on trusty ol’ M-A reveals this band from Norway, the aptly-named Voldemort.  They’ve got two self-released EPs out, which feature some winningly-titled tunes as “Mayhem at the Ministry,” “The Dark Mark in the Sky,” and “Cradle of Filch” (okay, I’ll admit to getting a decent chuckle out of that last one).  The band members have also adopted Potter-themed pseudonyms, including Count Draco Horcrux (…the fuck?) and Muggleslayer.  Okay, so this is already a whole lot of strikes against these folks, but it’s not totally outside the realm of possibility that they could write some decent tunes, yeah?  Well, check out their Myspace yourself, and see if you can make it any further than 1:24 into “Mayhem at the Ministry,” because  I sure as all damn hell could not.  It’s not that I take any great pleasure (well, maybe a little) in tearing down the work of others, but seriously?  This sounds basically like a third- or fourth-rate thrash tune slowed down to 1/2 time, with what sound like (but I think are not actually) synthesized distorted guitars and drums, with an irony-laden vocal ripoff of Cronos from Venom, with occasional King Diamond shrieks thrown atop the last word in a line for “emphasis.”  Which is to say, awful, awful stuff.

Awesome

Not nearly so awesome

The real point of this post, since I should be getting on with it, is that I can’t quite figure out exactly why it is that I can take perfectly seriously many of the metal bands that have incorporated various fantasy literature into their names, themes, artwork, and very music itself, whereas this Harry Potter-themed heavy metal of Voldemort seems like utter fucking bollocks and nonsense.  I think in this case, it’s a pretty clear case of a straight-up gimmick band.  In the interest of full disclosure, I ought to point out that your humble scribe is a pretty giant Harry Potter nerd, so it’s entirely possible that my near dry-heaving upon stumbling across that Myspace page is a knee-jerk response meant to defend Ms. Rowlings’ canon; more likely, though, is that this is a knee-jerk response to the ongoing hipsterization of heavy metal, about which I am, all things considered, an even gianter (that’s right, it’s not a word, but fuck you internet, I’m using it anyway) nerd.

J.R.R. Tolkien, of course, has a long and illustrious pedigree of being used and abused in the world of heavy metal.  Thing is, I’m pretty much perfectly cool with that, and my being perfectly cool with it is kind of bugging me, now that I’m thinking about this Harry Potter music bullshit.  Of course, some of the most obvious examples of Tolkien metal are Germany’s Blind Guardian and Austria’s Summoning, but even the most casual fan of underground heavy metal has stumbled across easily a few dozen bands whose names are drawn from Tolkien.  Gorgoroth, Amon Amarth, Cirith Ungol, Isengard (featuring Fenriz of Darkthrone), Nazgul, Uruk-Hai (early version of Burzum), Cirith Gorgor, and Ephel Duath are only a few examples (not to mention probably at least a half-dozen bands each taking the name Sauron or Morgoth).

Now, in all fairness, Gorgoroth haven’t spent much time actually singing about Tolkien, in the same manner as Blind Guardian (whose landmark Nightfall in Middle-Earth takes on one of Tolkien’s more difficult works, The Silmarillion) and Summoning (whose last full-length album, Oath Bound, included a track ostensibly sung in one of Tolkien’s made-up languages, the Black Speech of Mordor), nor have most of these other bands.  But even with Blind Guardian and Summoning, I don’t find it particularly difficult to take them (more or less) seriously.  And of course Tolkien is far from being the only literary/fantasy inspiration in heavy metal; H.P. Lovecraft likely plays a close second (check out the bizarre thrash band Mekong Delta, or look for basically any band ever utilizing the word Cthulu), but there are also bands like The Gates of Slumber using Robert E. Howard for inspiration (in this case, his tales of Conan the Barbarian).  This is not to say, by the way, that Harry Potter metal is the only type of fantasy heavy metal that reeks of the ridiculous; Italy’s long-running cheese-mongers Rhapsody (lately Rhapsody Of Fire), for example, have invented their own world of dragons and wizards to sing about.  It’s almost like someone should tap them on the shoulder and remind them politely that they’re not German.  Something I haven’t looked into, but might be interesting to investigate, is whether any metal band has tried to tackle Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.  I’ve got a hunch that someone, somewhere, must have given it a go.

Something tells me this is not an issue I’ll be able to resolve, inasmuch as it probably requires delving much more deeply into heavy metal’s penchant for the theatrical, the mystical, the occult, and so forth.  Maybe the fact that Tolkien’s books have been a part of the world’s collective literary consciousness for quite some time now, whereas Harry Potter remains a currently evolving phenomenon, plays some role in my different reactions to Potter metal and Tolkien metal; that is, maybe fifty years from now, Harry Potter metal will be just as widely accepted.  Maybe it simply has to do with the fact that this Norwegian band Voldemort sounds rather like a dog retching, whereas Blind Guardian sound completely fucking bad-ass; in that case, maybe all it will take is for a band to come along and make some really neck-wrecking Harry Potter-themed metal.

Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with my Harry Potter-brand garbage disposal and jogging shorts.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »