Lists of Domination
GD's Top 10 Nerdiest Bands
05/02/10 || Global Domination
Introduction by Habakuk: And here it goes again, the GD list machine keeps-a-rollin’, laying down the universal truth on all things metal. Whether you like it or not, this beloved genre of ours is probably host for the most nerd-infested group of people you’ll find outside the Chaos Computer Club’s annual Live-Action Roleplaying weekend. It must be something in the drinking horns, or why are we surrounded by pimpled sociopaths dressed in chainmail, ugly fantasy artwork and computer language joke shirts? I mean look at us, sitting in front of our computers all day vivisecting obscure music no-one cares about instead of living a life. Hey, we’re metalheads!
At some point in time, a great metal brain was sitting at home, there was no Internet, and he was thinking. The whole chicks, beers and rock ‘n roll thing wasn’t working for him, for some obscure reason. Why wasn’t anybody making music about what’s really important? I mean, it was right there in front of him: comic books, computer games, roleplaying, the history channel, music theory, mathematics, occult philosophy, conspiracies, all longing to be incorporated into the manliest of genres. Piles of EXP were beckoning – and thus it all began. And guess what, all the autistic fatties at school loved it, bought the shirts, hailed the unrecognized genius. And hey, so do we. Most of the time.
You know how it is with these lists, never complete, always awesome. Indulge yourselves, bring your D10’s and make sure to hop on the forums and split this list’s skull with a broadsword of doom.
The world’s greatest cultural force comes in the form of Dethklok! From members that have a disastrous speech impediment (William Murderface) to endorsement deals with the U.S. Treasury, (Pickles Nickels) everything about Dethklok is nerdy and yet brilliant. It doesn’t stop there though, oh fuck no. You also get songs such as “Murmaider” (about murdering mermaids), the epic “Murmaider II – The Water God”(more murdered mermaids) and of course their jingle for Duncan Hills coffee:
French Vanilla Roast
You’re dying for a cup
Prepare for ultimate flavor
You’re gonna get some… now
and scream… for your cream
The true nerdiness of Dethklok though comes through best in their everyday lives. Whether it’s buying an electric wheelchair at Gorgoroth’s, taking their family out for a bite at Burzum’s or Nathan Explosion taking his GED at Carpathian Forest High, Dethklok is a metal nerds wet dream come true. Pass the tissues…
9. Iced Earth
Iced Earth albums have been defined by broad subjects elaborated on with individual songs. Iced Earth (also known as Mr. John Schaffer’s ‘vehivle’) are also known for ending each record with a huge rock opera (that always worked best with a certain Matt Barlow singing them) that encompasses the given album’s theme. Call it what you will, it’s musical vision on an epic scale. There’s “Spawn”, also the thingy with “Stormriders” and such, a tiresome saga about the revenge of these cat-people undertaken by “Set Abominae”, plus war and history, horror creatures, etc. Not really the far reaches of brainy, more like camp of the highest order. In fact, one could say Schaffer is the George “The Arch Nerd” Lucas of heavy metal. At first the wow factor was incredible, then he overdid it and everyone’s bored. (Hello “Framing Armageddon”? Hello “Revenge of the Sith”?)
No disrespect meant, though. Yours truly is just abrasive as usual in keeping with GD’s ‘attitude’. Whatever is written here, Schaffer will outlast it, just as we’re praying he’ll outlast his Sons of Liberty project (pretty good by the way, if only the political overtones didn’t make non-Americans cringe). From a guy who taught himself guitar and worked his way to the top through years of sweat, enduring against all odds is in Schaffer’s DNA. The man cannot die (like Spartacus, wink wink) for longevity goes hand in hand with his iron will, graying locks, and rock solid constitution. And yeah, constitution.
Schaffer should do a whole series of albums on the United States’ constitution, starting with the preamble. Fuck it, it’s gonna rule. Or maybe Mt. Rushmore should be the next Iced Earth topic since he’s so enamored with US history. No wait, an album for every president on Mt. Rushmore is even better… Here’s another: John Schaffer’s mug is added to Mt. Rushmore, so it’ll be Roosevelt, Washington, Lincoln, Schaffer…
8. Running Wild
…Or, better, Ruminq Wild, as their logo (almost) says. Avast yer hearties, me mateys, for them German horde a’ vicious pirates art here! Swayin’ their cutlass, blood-thirst in their eaye and with favorable wind in their sails, them German conquerors a’ t’ oceans were a staple when it comes t’ pirate-themed metal. Since 1987, when they first deployed the Jolly Roger, Running Wild told many a story o’ seafarin’ courage, carnage, pillage, fightin’, drinkin’, haunted treaayes and magic islands o’ t’ tropics. Them buccaneers a’ t’ northern seas started off their acts a’ pain by tellin’ stories ‘bout Old Nick; but, soon they saw the evil a’ their ways an’ decided t’ abandon devil-worship and turn t’ piracy, instead. Their long voyage ended in 2009, when they decided to retire and enjoy t’ pleaayes their ill-begotten riches would offer them. No more to say, then, than ARRRR!!!
7. Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden always had a nerdy sort of edge about ‘em; making a bad-ass, skeleton-man mascot that appears on almost every one of your album covers, including live albums and singles? That’s nerdy. And despite the punk-ier flavor that Paul Di’Anno-era Maiden had, they still wrote some downright nerdy shit; songs about the Phantom Of The Opera, or named after old Edgar Allen Poe stories…? Again, nerdy.
Things got even dorkier when the operatic Bruce Dickinson came in to sing, an era in which Maiden made songs about the story of Icarus, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, British RAF pilots fighting during World War II (who needs The History Channel when you have NWOBHM?), songs where cheesy Vincent Prince sound-alikes talked about the Devil, and Blader Runner-y album covers with the Ed man got decked out in full cyber-cop gear. And for the past 3 decades, metal nerds everywhere have bought up the albums, wallpaper-ed their rooms with the posters, showed their loyalty by wearing the T-shirts, and more, and why is that…? Because Maiden is nerdy, and they fucken kick ass at it!!!
6. Amon Amarth
“By the stonedoors dwarfs are moaning”
Yeah, that’s an actual lyric from “The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter”. I could probably end this writeup right there. But lo, hark, and by Thor I shall battle on.
Amon Amarth made this nerdy list because every song they’ve ever written has a single subject. No it ain’t phat booty bitches or sweet cheddar cheese or rolling down the street smoking endo sipping on gin and juice. It is the Viking way of life – battles, Norse gods, fire, death, cold, and rolling through the North Sea smoking Yggdrasil roots sipping on barley mead. Death metal lyrics, for the most part, can’t be accused of being overly diverse. But AA’s fixation on ye hairy raiders of olde borders on the unhealthy.
The geeky lyrical content wouldn’t be much of a problem if the band didn’t occasionally dress up in warrior gear and have staged swordfights during concerts. Making it easier to infer that adorably pudgy frontman Johan Hegg yearns for a bygone era when a dude like him would have been crushing christian skulls on Thursday and banging meaty wenches on Friday.
These days, however, Heggs-n-toast had the good luck to graduate from driving trucks to victoriously commanding Sweden’s premier melodic death metal band. Which is an impressive achievement in itself, but probably didn’t involve much wanton killing and certainly doesn’t involve much wenchbanging. So when he sings about tough as nails men coming in from the sea, facing an army of spears, and spraying the enemy’s guts all over the place it is likely he wants to be in that fray himself. Need more evidence? Guess how many Amon Amarth songs are written in the first person? A quick count reveals 24 tunes which place the singer firmly in the role of tall, handsome Viking.
So a spot on the list well-deserved for some Swedes who clearly half-believe what they’re singing about, over and over. And the band name comes from a made-up language in “The Lord of the Rings”. Talk about making us metalheads look like complete fucken dorks… but that’s ok. As long as da Marth keeps the quality level high, we’ll fly the tattered nerd-banner with pride.
Now this is where things really get out of hand. What kind of mindset does it take to center not a song, not an album, but a whole band (that plays, of all things, brutal death metal) around an obscure theme like Egyptian fucken mythology? People don’t just sit down going “Dude! I found this book on pyramids. It’s got like snakes and gods’ penises, all over the place! Brutal shit, I’m tellin’ ya. We could form a death metal band with oriental sounds and sing only about phallic impalements and stuff like that.” – “Let’s go!”
No, no, no. I guess what it comes down to is that these people from the beginning onwards have to be blessed with immense dedication, commonly referred to as total nerdery. Who else would even think of expanding the mythology further down the “evil” path by combining it with the Cthulhu mythos, the embodiment of a metal subject? No-one outside the metal boundaries, that’s for sure.
Now what exactly makes Nile so great, with a ludicrous approach like that? It’s not about cheese, this here is beyond Camembert and friends. It’s about the holistic nature of their concept. Nile have always and exclusively dedicated themselves to their “Ancient Gods in Pyramids” theme in all their creative work: soundwise, lyrically, in their imagery. Except for, and this is important, stupid costumes. Nile are serious about their ridiculous shit. Should they ever, and Ra knows they won’t, start trying to get into “serious”, real-world matters, now that would be ridiculous.
Ia! AIDS awareness fhtagn!
4. Blind Guardian
When you sing about “Lord of the Rings”, you are nerd. Do I need to write any more? Hobbit Mutherfuckers! Oh, you have songs based on Stepken King books too? Wow, this is practically writing itself.
Germany’s Blind Guardian have been pumping out nerd-infused power metal since the 80’s and have gotten pretty damn good at it. They are one of the few bands in the genre that do not instantly cause my bowels to empty themselves in disgust withing ten seconds of hearing a song. Actually, musically I dig them quite a bit.
Lyrically and thematically though things are quite different. “Nightfall in Middle Earth”… yup, that’s a polished gem of nerdiness deluxe right there. Let’s have a look at some lyrics…
Lord of all Noldor
A star in the night
And a bearer of hope
He rides into his glorious battle alone
Farewell to the valiant warlord
Farewell Valiant Warlord! Our LARPING is over and you need to go back to your shift manager position at Radio Shack while we clean up the tin-foil swords and garbage-can shields that are strewn throughout your parent’s backyard. Middle Earth is safe once again for us to eat peanut M&M’s and watch the Star Wars Christmas Special free of fearing an orc assault.
Oh, and they have a heavily orchestral influenced album whose title is a reference to the Marx Brothers and Queen and features songs about Jesus, the Trojan War, the philosopher Nietszche, the Dragonlance fantasy book serious, Galileo, more fucken Tolkien, a rabbit and fox trying to stop genocidal crows (seriously, I am not making that one up), and German folktales. “A Night at the Opera” should be called…
“A Night at Home Stroking My Purpleheaded Love Dolphin to the Picture of Princess Leia as Jabba the Hutt’s Slave While Wearing Slippers that Make my Feet Look Like a Hobbit’s and a Replica Viking Helmet that Allows Me to Drink Two Cans of Mountain Dew at Once Like Those Beer Hats at NASCAR Races”
Let’s take a look at a few things that guarantee instant nerdiness for a band:
1) Jazz Influence: If you like jazz, talk about jazz, play a saxophone, or have a soulpatch you are a fucking nerd. If you can describe the different phases of Coltrane’s career or Mile Davis’ bowel movements you are a fucking nerd.
2) Use of a vocoder or voice enhancer. Peter Frampton did it. ‘Nuff said. If you inject any Framptonness into anything you do you are a fucking nerd.
3) Poetry and meditation: If you read poetry or meditate, let alone base your songs on this shit, you are a fucking nerd. Ralph Waldo Emerson has no place in metal, nor do worthless new-age mental practices. Buddha was fat bitch pussy… and a nerd.
For Cynic you can put a big ole check neck to each of these three categories of nerdness. Are they a good band? Absolutely. “Focus” is a classic progressive (a.k.a. nerdy) metal album and the more recent “Traced in Air” has some fine moments as well. I saw them on tour with Meshuggah last year and they were impressive live. The Death connection also strokes my boner. Fuck me, I must admit Cynic know how to play. But…
… this is metal for absolute robodorks. Time for me to go stick my dick in Mother Maya while reading 1830’s New England poetry. Fucking nerds.
You like video games? You like trampolines? You like weedily weedily bullshit and keyboards? Do you dream in anime? Never touched a conscious woman? You REALLY like video games? You might just have what it takes to be a Dragonforce fan!
Posterboys for Guitar Herocore bullshit wankery, gods to basement dwelling e-cretins, the inspiration for million-character YouTube comment debates, and the leading cause of diabetes in the metal community.
I confess to having had a Dragonforce addiction at one time. Right when “Inhuman Rampage” came out, my true metal brother Kevin and I would get messed up and blast that album and just laugh and laugh. It started out as, “Holy shit, bro! I can’t believe they’re doing that! It’s so fast!” Fast forward two weeks. “Holy shit, bro! I can’t believe they’re doing that! It’s so fucking annoying!”.
But I commend Dragonforce. You see, Dragonforce aren’t loser nerds. Dragonforce are probably knee deep in Renn-faire/cosplay honeys non-stop. Dragonforce can play their asses off. Dragonforce go outside sometimes. The nerdiest thing about Dragonforce is the Dragonforce fan. Dragonforce shirts only come in XXS and XXXL. Dragonforce condoms are packaged one to a box. Dragonforce fan forums are ALWAYS also anime forums.
Dragonforce is a neon, screaming firehose blasting the Cheeto dust, dandruff, and sweatpants funk off a disgusting mass of nerd and making them feel, for just one concert, like they’re not disgusting losers. For this, I commend them.
-Lumberjack (forumer and ex-staffer)
I’ve always understood there’s a fundamental difference between geeks and nerds. The short version of the difference is: geeks are nerds with social skills. Generally geeks can actually hold good conversations and blend in with a crowd; their hobbies just include D&D, anime, fantasy literature and sci-fi television series. Nerds, however, stand with a group of people having a conversation, wait in their quiet little corner for half an hour until someone takes pity on them and asks: “Hey dude, how are you doing?”, to which they reply: “I got a twelfth level half-elf ranger.”
We’re not talking about the geekiest band in metal here tonight. We’re talking about the nerds. The worst of the bunch. And to no one’s surprise, the winner by a landslide turned out to be Manowar. The four men, oiled up and shirtless, with more songs about how they rule all metal and how metal rules all and how they thus rule all because of the power of metal than you can throw an Onyxia raid at. When they don’t vocalize their imaginary supreme rulership of all, it’s about mighty (read: level 80) warriors, fighting with their swords against powerful enemies of every sort. Fighting, of course, shirtless and oiled up like gay Mexican wrestlers from Sparta.
The reason, I think, is that they won out so definitively over other power and heavy metal bands, or guys who actually consider themselves Vikings like their existence is a lifelong LARP, or the animated band near the bottom, is that these guys don’t simply have lyrics about fantasy subjects or shit like that. Then it would include wizards, dragons, princesses to rescue, magic, stuff like that. But no! There’s stuff about warriors, and how they rule the world, and swords, and more swords, and being kings of all, and being all oiled up and sweaty and ready for… battle, and guys who do battle, and fight, and hailing and killing, and…
You get the point. This is not a lyrical topic. This is not an homage or show of appreciation towards a geeky subject. Manowar, like true socially deprived nerds, have never talked to people outside their scope of interest for long enough to hear that the LARP they started 30 years ago had ended two days after while they were still in the woods eating the wrong mushrooms. They believe honestly that they are true warriors, using metal to spread their words of metalness and warriorness, claiming the title of Kings of the World though with nothing to show for it but an everlasting cosplay. Most bands lower on the ranks of nerdism just have extremely geeky music or topical matter. Manowar have since their inception lived a lifelong LARP, never pausing for breath, and to so distinctively devote your life to fantasy silliness can only earn you one thing.
The dubious honor of being the Nerdiest Band in Metal History.