May 12, 2010

Guest Post - Waiting for ADWD: An audio guide

Today's featured guest post comes from Ryan, the musical mind behind the fantastically named blog, Battle Hymns.

Hey people, Patrick has been kind (or crazy) enough to let me do a guest blog post. I'm Ryan, the man behind Battle Hymns, a blog where I talk about my three big loves, fantasy books, music and comics. I've been at this blogging thing for about four months, and so far I love it. I hope you enjoy the post, and feel inspired to come check out my blog as well...ok, enough about me, on to the good stuff!

If you are like me, then you are likely awaiting the next installment of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. If you are like me then you probably have days where you are impatiently cussing Mr. Martin out in your mind and muttering under your breath whenever he talks about mini pewter knights on his Live Journal, or New York Jets football. But, since I'm not crazy, and you likely aren't either, then you probably also, almost all the time, patiently await A Dance with Dragons and fill your time reading other great works of fantasy and empathize with Mr. Martin and try to be understanding of the situation...but then doubt starts creeping in, and you get tired of holding your breath each time you read his Live Journal in hopes of some ASoIaF news, and you feel that impatience creeping in.

Well, I'm here to help.

You don't just have to fill your time by reading other stuff, you can now pass the time by rocking out to five kick-ass albums that will cure your ADWD blues. BEHOLD:

2112 by Rush: This is probably Rush's coolest album and a great album to help you forget about life for awhile.

Put your headphones on and get ready for the first track, a twenty minute cyberpunk odyssey that takes you to the year 2112, where the world is ruled by the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx. These priestly bastards control all aspects of life, including music, art and reading material, (so enjoy GRRM while you can!). Then some dude finds a guitar and learns to shred. He travels to the temple to show the priests, but they his destroy the guitar. In agony, the guy commits suicide, and the galaxy plummets into war and the song ends with the message: "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control." EPIC!

It's a bit of a cliff hanger of a song ending and sadly, the rest of the songs on the album don't continue the story but are quite solid. There is something for everyone on this album. Some straight up heavy stuff, smooth melodic bits and everything in between.

Blood Mountain by Mastodon: This list would be incomplete if I didn't include at least one concept album. That's where Blood Mountain comes in. The album is meant to represent the element of Earth, so there's that for starters. The album's concept is about climbing a mountain, becoming stranded on the mountain, and the different things you could face: starvation, hallucinations, being hunted, and of course, running into strange creatures.

The album is filled with mystic beasts and other fantastic has a song about a "Cysquatch"!! (a cyclopian sasquatch!) The instrumental track Bladecatcher has all the frenetic energy of a sword fight. Few albums are as sonically amazing as this, and since it is filled to the brim with fantasy elements, it should keep you busy.

Deliverance by Opeth: Deliverance is the album to go to when you're feeling a bit of hatred and anger towards GRRM. Maybe you just read his Live Journal and saw a long ass post about the NFL, or you're feeling queasy about all the time he's spent writing blurbs for internet cage matches...Opeth will be your cure.

Easily one of the band's heaviest albums, Deliverance is great for those times when you want to headbutt a brick wall, or something similarly drastic. For me, listening to loud heavy music has a calming effect. So if you are in the need of a heavy metal injection, let Opeth be your doctor. This album has power, and emotion. Give it a listen and you'll feel a strong personal connection to the music.

Tales from the Thousand Lakes by Amorphis: Need to be inspired? How about a concept album about an epic poem from Finland? Further proof that epic music is a great compliment to epic tales, Amorphis' second album is a fine example. Tales from the Thousand Lakes is a concept album based on the Kalevala, the Finnish National Epic. I don't know much about the Kalevala, but Wikipedia says it inspired a national awakening which led to Finland gaining independence from Russia back in 1917, so that is pretty amazing.

The one thing I do know is that this album is awesome. Filled with amazing guitar work, Amorphis hits you with riff after brutal riff. Each song gallops along with great pace and is solid from start to finish. This album marks Amorphis' transition towards more melodic material, it strides the gap between aggressive and melodic music in a way that makes the sound of this album unique.

Gods of the Earth by The Sword: Possibly the most unheralded band on the list, (think of them as a hedge knight) The Sword's music directly references works of fantasy. A bunch of their songs reference Robert E. Howard's Conan, and the song To Take the Black is an obvious reference to Mr. Martin himself.

Apparently when they aren't reading fantasy, they are writing inspired music. The Sword's musical style is reminiscent of Black Sabbath, with a stoner swirl. At times there's a bit too much cymbal crashing for my tastes, but their songs are a lot of fun and there is no arguing with the subject matter of the songs. Their musical themes are a great compliment to the works of fantasy they reference.

There, I hope that helps you cope with the waiting. If you are unfamiliar with these albums I urge you to check them out and let me know what you think. If you do already own them, or some of them, then I hope you are employing them to help ward off the waiting blues. So until ADWD hits shelves, keep reading and keep listening!

Thanks to Ryan for contributing! I'm got plenty to read while waiting for A Dance With Dragons but not too much to listen to! I should be back next week, don't trash the house too much.


  1. "What can this thing be that I've found..."

    I've not heard the other albums on your list but 2112 truly is Epic! I'm cranking it now. Thanks.

  2. Dave- Glad to hear you are a fan of 2112!

    The other four albums are metal albums, but with a large degree of artistry involved that makes them more approachable than much of the metal genre. They are great listens, and if you give them a shot, let me know what you think, I love to talk music! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Although I don't read much fantasy, I do love fantastical metal! Cool list, I need to get my hands on some Rush 2112. I haven't listened to that in years. Mastodon is always on the road touring. They are a must-see live.

  4. Ryan, as luck would have it all these albums are on grooveshark for me to check out. I've made some playlists so I can give 'em a go next week at work. Work is always a good place for angry music.

  5. Dave- Grooveshark is pretty awesome. I hope you enjoy the music. If anything, they should make work more interesting!

  6. Oops! Forgot to write my name on the comment above. Sorry.

  7. Keep up the good work! I invite you to see my post, I hope you will find interesting too.

  8. thanks for the insight! i think it'd be interesting to hear the swords album especially since they are so inspired by fantasy. it'd be pretty cool see how written fantasy can translate into a musical form!

  9. @Ivanka- You should definitely check out The Sword. Their sound reminds me a bit of Black Sabbath, though the drummer relies too heavily on the cymbals for my tastes, but they have great guitar work, and the fantasy influences are right up front, so the band is a lot of fun. They have two albums, Ages of Winter, and the one I highlighted, Gods of the Earth. Both are solid. It is hard to pick a favorite. They also should have a new album coming out later this year, so if you try them and like them, mew material is on the way!


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