Have you ever heard of nerd metal? It’s not an official genre, but I use the term to refer to a specific group of metal music. In my head, I divide nerd metal into two subgenres: Happy, almost hopeful, hype-up power metal type vs. dark, angry, blood-pumping death metal type.
The perfect example of the first type is Blind Guardian. Formed in the 1980s in West Germany, Blind Guardian is basically a phenomenon on its own. The band’s music covers a wide variety of metal subgenres, ranging from power metal to more ballad-like tunes.
What makes Blind Guardian nerd metal isn’t their riffs or melodies, although the medieval sounding tunes in songs such as “Mordred’s Song” really helps. Instead, the nerdiness comes directly from the lyrics, which are strongly influenced by fantasy stories and traditional legends. Magic, monsters, epic wars, epic journeys – these are what makes nerd metal.
Their nerdiest album, by far, is Nightfall in Middle-Earth, a concept album based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. If you are even slightly intrigued by Tolkien’s imaginarium, the album is guaranteed to take you to Arda, where Hansi Kürsch’s unique vocals will take you on a really fun journey.
In this sense, nerd metal is inherently fun. It has the power to fill you with positive emotions and fuels your imagination. Here, I can’t help but think about “The Bard’s Song” by Blind Guardian, which actually is the most accurate depiction of the kind of feeling you get when listening to this kind of music:
Tomorrow will take us away
Far from home
No one will ever know our names
But the bards’ songs will remain
Tomorrow will take it away
The fear of today
It will be gone
Due to our magic songs
This genre is also infinitely capable of hyping you up and prepping you for adventure.
One of my favorite hype-up songs is “Pentagram” by Nocturnal Rites, from their 1997 album Tales of Mystery and Imagination. This song is special to me, mainly because its opening riff was one of the first metal riffs I learnt how to play. Second, it’s just plain awesome.
But of course, if we’re talking about hype and nerd metal, I can’t ignore DragonForce and “Through the Fire and Flames.” This song has everything: Nerdy lyrics about flying among dragons, galloping riffs and kickdrums, and impossible guitar solos and licks. Honestly, sometimes I just listen to this song in the mornings to get me going. It’s cheesy as all hell, but that’s exactly the point of nerd metal.
These two properties of nerd metal basically come from its power metal constituents. Fast riffs, cheesy nerdy lyrics, fun medieval tunes etc. I mean, who can listen to Nightwish’s “Moondance” and remain unfazed?
Of course, there is a dark side to nerd metal as well. Just playing fun, happy-go-lucky songs would get boring after a while. What’s the one common theme in all fantasy stories? War and battles! That’s where death metal bands come in.
Here we have bands like Amon Amarth (named after Mount Doom in Middle-Earth) and Arch Enemy. The latter’s “War Eternal” is an amazing war anthem and plays really well while doing PvP in World of Warcraft. Although, playing an elemental shaman while Amon Amarth’s “Twilight of the Thunder God” plays in the background would also be very, very metal.
My Ultimate Nerd Metal Playlist
So are you a self-proclaimed nerd? Do you like songs that get your blood pumping? Then take a look at this playlist I made. It’s on Spotify, but in case you don’t use Spotify, here it is:
- The Bard’s Song – In The Forest by Blind Guardian
- Moondance by Nightwish
- Pentagram by Nocturnal Rites
- Angus McFife by Gloryhammer
- Army of the Night by Powerwolf
- Emerald Sword by Rhapsody
- Hold the Heathen Hammer High by Tyr
- Crimson Thunder by Hammerfall
- Through The Fire and Flames by DragonForce
- Mordred’s Song by Blind Guardian
- Rainbow in the Dark by Dio
- In The Heart of Stone by Dark Moor
- Ride with the Sun by Fairyland
- Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth
- War Eternal by Arch Enemy
- Across the Streaming Tide by Summoning
There is a certain narrative to this playlist, so make sure to listen to it in the order given here. Imagine that you’re at an inn and you are at the very beginning of your journey. “The Bard’s Song” sets the mood for things to come. You are supposed to leave the worries of the real world behind and lose yourself in this music.
Then slowly, but surely, your adventure starts. You go sailing across the seas, fight with a king, deal with the undead, search for an epic sword – in short, you go questing. Finally, you literally fly with the dragons.
At this point, it’s time for a break. You can’t adventure continuously forever, after all. But beware, this quick respite will be over soon and you will once again ride to battle. After all, the one thing that never changes is war itself.
Nerd metal is definitely my favorite genre of music and I hope I have succeeded in converting into my ranks.