Any metalhead worth his spikes has visited the online wonderland known as the Encyclopaedia Metallum (www.metal-archives.com) at least once or twice. This virtual grimoire of Metal bands contains listings, photos, discographies, and short bios of at least 67,700 groups (at last count), making it an ideal website to piddle away a rainy Sunday afternoon or two.
Knowing that cheez-metal bands have a propensity to include strong "fantasy" elements in their lexicon and/or imagery, I decided to sit down for a half hour or so and do a little research in the E.M. Archives. Punching in a few names of mythological creatures and other fantasy elements into a Google search, in addition to the word "metallum", the fruits of my labor surfaced instantly in the form of a whole shitload of corny/awesome/confusing bands that I had never heard of prior.
Let's take a look at some of these forgotten wonders. I began my quest by typing in "serpent metallum", which delivered me into the hands of the (probably) awesome band below, known as "Serpent's Knight". Not a bad start!
Formed in Seattle in 1981, Serpent's Knight only managed to release one demo and one full-length (1983's Released From The Crypt). But here's the stinger: Serpent's Knight once had a vocalist named FATHER SCORN! Awesome!
I totally wish I could have partied with these guys back in the day, Father Scorn in particular. And check out the pants/boots combination on that guitarist! Pure class.
Next up: Gargoyle.
Although there's another "Gargoyle" from Turkey, it's "Gargoyle" from Japan that truly fascinated me. Check 'em out:
"Avant-garde thrash metal" from Japan, Gargoyle has been active since the release of Misogi in 1989. They have since released no less than 15 albums, in addition to several best-of compilations, videos, singles, and DVDs, the most recent of which being 2008's full-length, Super Battle Gargoyle (!!!). How have I never heard of this band before?! Thank you so much, Encyclopaedia Metallum. Thank you so much.
Not to be confused with Sweden's prog-rock outfit "Unicorn", "Unicorn" from Germany are another group of awesome-pants-clad Bros I wouldn't mind sitting down and sharing some frosty suds with. With only one EP, 1987's The Legend Returns, to their credit, Unicorn were a bit of a "flash in the pan"... A beautiful, sparkling, blinding flash.
"Lyrical themes: Fantasy, Might, Epic". Niiiice.
PS: How can their FIRST album be a "Return"? I guess we'll never know...
Get a load of Poland's "Dragon". A thrash band with "Satan, Death, and Armageddon" listed as their lyrical themes, Dragon pumped out two split albums and five full-lengths from 1987-1999. Major bonus points for the haircuts, guys. Excellent.
Hailing from Osaka, Japan, is the mysterious one-man black metal band known as "Gnome". The only member of Gnome is a guy who goes by the name of "Wood".
Guess what kind of music the shirtless wonders in Germany's "Wizard" play? Did you guess "Epic Power Metal"? You did? Wow! How did you guess?
In fact, most of the bands that turn up in a "fantasy"-themed search of the Encyclopaedia Metallum are some sort of symphonic/epic/progressive/power metal hybrid. And most of them have exactly ONE female in the band. Wizard was the only one I included here because of A) chest hair and B) the look on the guy's face on the far left.
Speaking of corny, fantasy-themed bands, check out Poland's awesomely-named "Crystal Viper". Crystal Viper contains two members of the aforementioned band Dragon. What an odd coincidence.
Not to be outdone:
What's even sweeter than a Crystal Viper? How 'bout a CRYSTAL FUCKIN' DRAGON, BITCH?!?
Great name, of course, but judging by the photo these guys have got to be total wads. Look at Portugese Bret Michaels up there. Pull it together, man.
I always wanted to start a prog-metal band called Pegasus (heavy on the keytars), but at least TWO bands actually beat me to it:
Melodic/black metal band "Pegasus", from Germany, has released two full-length albums, one titled simply Fantasy and another called The Epic Quest. The also have a 1999 EP called The Dungeon Master. Any D&D nerds in ths band? Naaah.
Then there's "Pegasus" from the UK, notable for two reasons: A) Despite the grainy band photo, this band is, in fact, BRAND NEW. B) The drummer/singer's name is "Sandman McHaggis".
Only in Japan: "Fairy Mirror", purveyors of "Melodic Power Metal". Fucking EXQUISITE.
Poland's "Wolf Spider". Not technically named after a mythical creature, but take a gander at that band photo! Especially Polish Dan Lilker over there on the right. Epic. These guys shared two split albums with Dragon, as well.
BANDS NAMED AFTER FANTASY/MEDEIVAL WEAPONS:
First off, we have "Mace" from Everett, Washington. A thrash/crossover band active in the mid 80's, Mace's band photo is an enigma unto itself. Take a close look. As Facedowninshit has taught us in the past, any band that poses with a doggie in their band photo is a sure winner. But secondly, look in the dude with the dog's right hand. To avoid any confusion about the band's moniker, he is ACTUALLY ARMED WITH A FUCKING MACE!!! Damn.
Next up is yet another "Mace", this one from Italy. Credited with only one release, 1989's State of Excitement, the sheer abundance of leather and Marshall stacks in this photo would indicate that it is a sure winner. Can anyone confirm or deny (I'm looking at you, Aesop)?
Jesus Christ. My discovery of Portland's "Dagger of the Mind" signalled that my quest was at an end. Practicing a style of music they describe as "Shakespearean Humor Metal", DOTM is, sadly, neither funny NOR Metal. No thanks, guys. No thanks.
One last thing:
Just a little tidbit I stumbled accross in the course of my research, a one man South American Black Metal band called "Snake Sad" (below). This guy may have just stumbled accross the best band name of all time. Kudos, sir.
So that's it. Maybe next time YOU have a little free time, you can try a little "random words" + "metallum" search of your own. I can tell you firsthand, it's probably the most rewarding thing you can do.
Have YOU accidentally discovered ridiculous/awesome bands on Encyclopaedia Metallum before? Let us know about ot in the 'Comments' section. Your diligence will be justly rewarded!