Tag Archives: heavy metal

The Cozy and The Metal

The New Year started off well enough, but by a week into 2015 I was already in the middle of some difficulties. My beloved feline companion of 17 years got very ill and died. That was bad enough to set me back a while. Added to that, however, we had an ice storm, and my wife slipped on said ice and broke her foot. Later that week I took a series of particularly shady hits in a dek hockey game and ended up with some soft tissue damage and some bruised ribs. With all of these things happening, I wasn’t living my normal routine (including running, which has become like medicine for me). There are a few things that have helped me immensely. Of course, I’m talking about old metal records and cozy mysteries.


this is what happens when you do a google image search for 'cozy mysteries'

this is what happens when you do a google image search for “cozy mysteries”

It’s no secret that I love cozy mysteries. See HERE and HERE. The books that I’ve been into early this year are the “kind-of-cozy” books by Jane Langton. They are a bit rougher around the edges than most cozy titles, especially concerning graphic language. That said, the way that Langton tells stories is engaging and entertaining. Emily Dickinson Is Dead is a great example of that. The way that the narrative winds back and forth weaving the lives of the characters together is quite remarkable. Plus, if you have a soft spot for literature (as I do) the book is filled with bits from Dickinson’s poems. A Transcendental Murder didn’t engage me quite as much, but it has a similar approach and a great connection to Emerson and Thoreau.


I also got into Carol Miller’s Murder and Moonshine. This is an interesting beginning to a series set in rural southwestern Virginia. Daisy is a waitress at the local diner and gets to hear all the local gossip. When a reclusive old man shows up there one day and drops dead a few minutes later, Daisy finds herself in the middle of a case involving local law, moonshiners, the ATF and, of course, her famous peach cobbler.


What goes well with a nice cozy mystery better than some classic metal? Early Metallica has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Ride the Lightning has been in rotation. (Listen to “Creeping Death” on repeat you ask? Yes, please!) Likewise, Master of Puppets has been getting some well-deserved attention. (Put on “Disposable Heroes” and try to mosh around your living room – then, if you’re anything like me, you remember you have bruised ribs and ease yourself back to the couch and the heating pad).


this is what happens when you do a google image search for "metal music"

this is what happens when you do a google image search for “metal music”

Round it out with a bit of Celtic Frost … To Mega Therion, to be specific. Turn up “(Beyond the) North Winds” as a cold, icy gale blows outside and be reminded that, in the face of broken, busted-up bodies, and the death of our friends, we still woke up today, and have a chance to live, love, read books and listen to music. Add the classic Black Metal by Venom, and you have a fitting soundtrack for anything the winter can throw at you.



who is currently ensconced on his couch, cozy in hand, metal on in the background, and a heating pad on his ribs


Filed under Uncategorized

Reading Robert E. Howard: Is Conan a Lion or a Tiger or What?

Taking the advice of my fellow blogger, Scott, I am finally reading my first Conan book, The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.

Why did I wait so long?  As one of the lyricists for a heavy metal band, I should long ago have been ripping off lines of Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) like this one:

…[he] drew back his mind from the nighted abysses where it had been questing… (p. 16)

If that language sounds a little excessive to you, then get a load of this.  In the short story “The Scarlet Citadel,” Howard so frequently assigns different characteristics to his protagonist that it becomes absurd:

“Who can take a man-eating tiger alive?” (p. 87)

“Take him up and fear not; the lion’s fangs are drawn.” (p. 87)

The kings reined in and gazed in awe at the fallen lion. (p. 87)

In one of these chariots lay Conan…weighted with chains, the tang of defeat in his mouth, the blind fury of a trapped tiger in his soul. (p. 88)

…his laughter sounded like the muttering of a rousing lion. (p. 89)

Conan’s laugh was like the deep short bark of a timber wolf. (p. 91)

…and Conan gave back the glare of a trapped wolf. (p. 95)

…gave Conan the name — Amra, the Lion — by which the Cimmerian had been known to the Kushites in his piratical days. (p. 96)

“Do you not remember the sack of Abombi, when your sea-wolves swarmed in?” (p. 96)

With a terrible curse Conan struck as a cobra strikes. (p. 97)

Conan paced the chamber like a caged lion. (p. 106)

With a lion-like roar the Cimmerian parried the whistling blade… (p. 110)

As a thunderbolt strikes, Conan struck, hurtling through the ranks by sheer power and velocity… (p. 116)

Lion, tiger, lion, tiger, wolf, wolf, snake, lightning, etc.  Whoa, that’s a lot of similes and metaphors.  It’s like Muhammad Ali saying, “Float like a butterfly, / Sting like a bee” and then a dozen other things.

But then again, this variegation is what makes Howard’s stories and Conan himself so darn fun.  The barbarian is sometimes a pirate, sometimes a mercenary, and sometimes a king.  The tales are set in any of the various kingdoms Howard invented (though, significantly, none  take place in Cimmeria and no other Cimmerians are ever written about).  Finally, one can’t expect a barbarian to have only one love interest so there are a number of female companions from slave girls to princesses to pirate queens.

Through it all, the language is gloriously excessive, the horrors of either savagery or civilization are laid bare, and the supernatural elements are exaggerated and over-excited.  In fact, one could say the same things about Howard’s friend, H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), another author that heavy metal lyricists like to imitate.

— Tim

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Metal on Metal

One of the best (and most ridiculous) things about heavy metal music is its many proud odes to heavy metal music.

So get ready to pump your fist and bang your head because here are some metal anthems you can find in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Music Department’s CD collection:

Anvil – “Metal on Metal

  • I think Anvil is like Judas Priest but with a less amazing singer, a better drummer, and slightly dumber lyrics.  They’re also lovable especially if you see the documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil.  Their 1982 anthem “Metal on Metal” contains this brilliant stanza: “Metal on metal / Heads start to bang / Denim and leather / Chains that clang.”

Exodus – “Metal Command

  • Exodus are perhaps the best example of 1980s Bay Area thrash and their knuckleheaded lyrics are usually about violence or metal.  Or both.  “Bangers take your stand” and obey their “Metal Command.”

Judas Priest – “Metal Gods,” “Heavy Metal,” and “Metal Meltdown

  • Judas Priest were indeed metal gods of the 70s up until the mid-80s when they started wearing colored leather instead of black leather.  When they wisely switched back to black leather to begin the 90s they sounded good again.

Manowar – “Metal Daze

  • Manowar once held the Guinness record for the world’s loudest performance.  They’re also really into weight-lifting.  I can’t think of a better combination for making music.

Eric Adams of Manowar in 2002 (Photo by Catskingloves)

Metallica – “Metal Militia

  • One of the favorite pastimes of true metal maniacs is complaining about Metallica and how they’ve sucked since bassist Cliff Burton died in 1986.  Don’t worry, this song is from their 1983 debut album.

Quiet Riot – “Metal Health

  • “Bang your head / Metal health’ll drive you mad.”  Whatever that means, it sure sounded good to me while walking home from elementary school carrying a boom box.  Over twenty-five years later, I now offer my apologies to the quiet residents of suburban Denver.

Venom – “Black Metal

  • The mighty Venom aren’t really clever or  talented yet somehow (or perhaps because of this) are enormously influential.  This speedy and bombastic anthem tells you to “Lay down your soul to the gods rock and roll.”  They don’t even fit in the word “of” before “rock and roll.”  Don’t question it.

Let me know some of your favorite homages to headbanging heavy metal!

— Tim


Filed under Uncategorized