Friday, April 2, 2021

Queen of the Black Coast, Manilla Road (and REH, too)

Did Robert E. Howard influence heavy metal artists?

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Among the many things I love about sword-and-sorcery are that its tentacles are everywhere, including some places you might not expect. Like the lyrics of a heavy metal band formed in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas.

Take a listen to "Queen of the Black Coast," off of 1982's Metal (aside: can an album name get more metal than Metal? Like Spinal Tap, it gets none more black than that). Many metal bands including early Black Sabbath appropriated fantasy and demonic imagery, while other bands incorporated sword-and-sorcery whole cloth into their music:

These dudes aren't everyone's cup of tea and probably never made to the metal mainstream (though they were close with 1983's Crystal Logic) due to Mark Shelton's odd singing voice, and esoteric subject matter. Shelton can be jarring at first, but he grows on you, and Manilla Road has hooked me deep. The REH content is icing on the cake.

I love this tune, and this story, and the fusion of old stories influencing subsequent artists in different mediums. And even though Manilla Road is gone with the death of Shelton, the bard's songs continue.

Spoiler alert.


Craig S. Shoemake said...

Hey Brian,
A right fun post! I confess I'm not a heavy metal fan--though I do love pumping iron to AC/DC, if that counts--but this riff on Conan et al was really out there and fun in a crazy way. Then, later the same day, I discovered the following:

This is a heavy metal cover of Wardruna's awe-inspiring "Helvegen". (If you don't know, Wardruna is a neo-pagan/Norse/Viking inspired band out of Norway, I think.)

Here's the original Helvegen:

I have to say I REALLY enjoyed the metal cover! The only thing missing was the guy smashing his guitar at the end, or setting a tree on fire (provided he had an extinguisher on hand, of course).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these offerings.

Regards as always,

Brian Murphy said...

Craig, I always appreciate a good metal recommendation, and the Viking heritage makes it irresistible. I will check these guys out. Pumping iron to AC/DC counts BTW--especially if its "If You Want Blood (You Got It)."

Craig S. Shoemake said...

And don't miss the ending, where he gives you the promo code for some "awesome Wiking style stuff" just in time for Assassin's Creed! (The juxtaposition of his badassing it in the forest with the mild-mannered businessman in his office is juicy priceless. :)

Craig S. Shoemake said...

So Brian I took your recommendation and listened to the song. What came up online was a live performance, link here:

I could not remember hearing the song before, surprisingly, but totally enjoyed it! Their facial expressions are inimitable, though how Angus Young's head is still attached to his body is a puzzle to me.

While doing a workout later in my office with my wife (dumbbells and stuff) I played the video above and she liked it, so I followed it up with Hells Bells live from 2009, which she totally dug. Video here:

Anyway, many thanks for the wonderful recommendation!

Brian Murphy said...

Nice job Craig. Try this one, too: