After the eventful fourth season’s finale of Game of Thrones were are all left with an empty spot in our weekly agendas as we have to show patience for the next season or the sixth book ‘Winds of Winter’ to appear. Maybe we can fill this gap with some good metal music? However, there are not many known bands dedicating their creativity to the world of Westeros and the works by George R. R. Martin. The most known ‘Game of Thrones’-inspired metal songs come from bands or YouTube musicians who have taken a go at the series’ main theme or the “Rains of Castamere”. Definitely check out THE FORESHADOWING’s doomy tribute to this iconic song: A Requiem for Wolves. Another personal favorite are the three compositions made by the man that can turn any song into an epic metal track: ERIC CALDERONE aka EROCK. However, in this post I would like to focus more on bands that have created original songs.
Am I the only one wondering what is keeping the sprout of bands writing music about the adventures of the Starks and Lannisters? The godfather of fantasy literature, J. R. R. Tolkien has already inspired dozens of famous and well respected bands. Dust off those old records and have a listen at LED ZEPPELIN’s “Misty Mountain Hop”, “Ramble On” and “The Battle of Evermore”. MEGADETH’s Dave Mustaine drew inspiration from Aragorn’s speech at the Black Gate while writing “This Day We Fight!”. And of course you can’t ignore the Tolkien references in NIGHTWISH‘s “Elvenpath”. Other bands go beyond the one-song-tribute and create entire albums drenched in the fantasy lore. BLIND GUARDIAN’s Nightfall in Middle Earth follows the Silmarillion and bands like SUMMONING or BATTLELORE have based almost there entire repertoire on Tolkien’s work. Many other bands like CIRITH UNGOL, AMON AMARTH and GORGOROTH took their name from the rich world of Middle Earth. Even BURZUM translates into ‘darkness’ from Black Speech, a language spoken by creatures of Mordor. So what about ‘Game of Thrones’-metal? Or should we term the subgenre Valyrian metal? Admitted, the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series is considerably younger compared to Tolkien’s work. While Martin published the first novel ‘A Game of Thrones’, in 1996, ‘The Hobbit’ already dates back to 1937. So what is already out there? For our readers’ ease and listening convenience, I have compiled a YouTube playlist containing all the songs mentioned in this post (and several others). Just click on one of the videos or inserted links to be taken to the playlist and explore. We will update the playlist in the future if new songs come out of obscurity.
The masters of fantasy power metal, BLIND GUARDIAN, wrote “War of The Thrones” and “A Voice In The Dark” for their 2010 At The Edge of Time album. Don’t let yourself be misled by the Aztec video, because “A Voice In The Dark” deals with the difficult path of the young Bran Stark.
The title of HAMMERFALL’s Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken comes from the motto of house Martell of Dorne, while on the same album songs “Hammer of Justice”, “Fury of the Wild” and “Take The Black” all carry reference to parts of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. And looking at the tracklist for their new album (r)Evolution it seems very likely that “Winter is Coming” is also dedicated to house Stark.
The Dutch band ARKNGTHAND has made an album entitled Songs of Ice and Fire. Some songs are power oriented, others heavy and some even hint a bit towards progressive. Overall, it’s an entertaining album worth checking out. Unfortunately, the band has since then changed its name to RIVER OF BRAKELIGHTS and started playing more progressive rock, devoid of references to the world of Westeros.
As far as I know, the only band out there that has dedicated the majority of its three full length albums to Games of Thrones is the American power thrash metal band SEVEN KINGDOMS. While the first album still features a male vocalist, the latest two albums feature the lovely Sabrina Valentine behind the microphone. I must say I have become quite a fan of this band since I discovered them during my research. While the playlist contains more work of them, enjoy here their video “After The Fall”, another song dedicated to the young Bran Stark.
Some bands honor certain characters in the series, like female-fronted MORNINGSTARLETT with their tribute to Daenerys Targaryen, the “Mother of Dragons”, GYPSYHAWK with “Hedgeking” dedicated to the fallen Robert Baratheon and a great track about Gregor Clegane aka “The Mountain That Rides by COLOSSUS. Beware, because the lyrics of the last one contains spoilers for those of you who haven’t read the books! Other power and heavy metal songs worth checking out in the playlist are WINTERFELL‘s “The Beggar King” and “Winter is Coming”, THE LAST ALLIANCE‘s live version of “To The Far North” & “White Walkers”, and ASSEDIUM‘s “Winter is Coming“.
Power metal and epic heavy metal have always been the first genres of choice by musicians who wanted to honor rich fantasy writings. However, we can also find some Valyrian metal in other genres. It does not take much imagination to guess where the stoners of THE SWORD got the inspiration for “To Take The Black” and “Maiden, Mother, & Crone”.
The Greek NOCTERNITY plays black metal and offers a change of pace between all the power and heavy metal. Their song “Valyrian Steel (Blood of the Dragon)” of the album Onyx is inspired by the valuable metal. Fun fact: the guitar player goes by the stage name of Khal Drogo. Also check out “Fire and Blood” by THOU ART LORD, another Greek black metal band.
The American LICH KING comes as a surprise with some genuine thrash in the form of “A Storms of Swords”.
The closest you get to a folkmetal song is “North, North-West of the Wall” by Celtic punk rockers PADDY’S ALLSTARS. Those of you who speak Spanish might understand more from SAUROM‘s “Se Acerca El Invierno“.
Imagine what other original epic tracks could be written about the War of Conquest, the Battle of the Trident or the battle of the Blackwater. The frostbitten cold of the North and evil White Walkers could certainly inspire some more black metal. Or what about folkmetal versions of joyful songs such as “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”? And above all… Don’t tell me metal bands don’t like to write songs about dragons!
I hope this can entertain you in our wait for new Game of Thrones material! I just hope George Martin would write like the wind! For now I will just leave you with this grindcore beauty by THE ABSENCE’s drummer Jeramie Kling: