Up until a few weeks ago I didn't even know there was such a thing as "Fantasy Metal", or "Folk Metal" (which will be quite the Oxymoron for Tim at TaleSpin). I like checking out new music when I buy songs on I-tunes--when you go to purchase a song, the band's profile comes up and the I-tunes store happily makes suggestions based on other people's purchases. Sort of a "If you like that, then you'll like this" ala Amazon's site. I was downloading Lacuna Coil's Stars and their cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence. This lead me to a band called Within Temptation. They're plain old Gothic metal (although there's nothing really plain or old about it) with a female lead singer. Which is, I've learned, how I like my Gothic metal and all its subgenres. I've never enjoyed hearing Cookie Monster talk with a Scandinavian accent over my metal, and that's how a lot of Gothic Metal's male vocalists do their work, borrowing a page from Death Metal.
Back to Within Temptation. Since I didn't really like more than one or two of the songs available by them on I-tunes, I went to their MySpace page to listen to some of their newer material, and I am seriously into their new material. Back on I-Tunes, Within Temptation lead me to Leaves' Eyes, whose CD covers look more like they belong in the same section as Enya than Cradle of Filth, though that isn't without good reason.
Leaves' Eyes is my favorite act of the genre, given what I've heard of them so far - a combination of I-tunes and E-music downloads and MySpace previews. Leaves' Eyes, simply put, is a combination of two of my favorite styles of music. Really heavy metal with an epic, Wagnerian flavor, fronted vocally by females who sound more like Loreena McKennitt than Lee Aaron. Take Leaves' Eyes song Tale of the Sea Maiden, which sounds like Kate Bush from an alternate history where she was discovered by John Petrucci of Dream Theater instead of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
By this time, I'd waded through a lot of Gothic metal bands, and noticed that "Napalm Records" is the place where almost all of them hang their hat. So I wandered over to Napalm's official site, and was fortunate enough to get there at the end of January, before they switched their "featured band of the month". January of 2007's featured band was Battlelore, who have been my introduction to "fantasy metal". This is the sort of metal that the Vampire Goddess would produce if she was a musician instead of a music afficianado. Battlelore has three vocalists - clean female (an elven maiden), clean male (an elven warrior) and one Cookie Monster, who in this case is an orc I believe. Or maybe a Nazgul. I don't know. All their lyrics are straight out of Tolkien though (And some people thought I was being cheezy singing "You shall not pass" in 7DF's Skeleton Army). Song titles range from Sons of Riddermark to the free download I got of Hall of Heroes (which is a kick ass track). I can't say I like the canon of their work...too much Orc, not enough Elven maiden in the vocals, but I like the idea, and I'm eager to see what their new release, Evernight will be like when it comes out in March.
So having listened to this stuff for a month straight, I couldn't help but think...if 7DF was to shut down, would I do fantasy/folk-metal? I love mythology and I'm Norwegian/German by ethnic background. If Dave Howard of 7DF were amenable, he'd be the shred-meister to play guitar for such a project. If I'm going to pipe dream, let's just do this right. As I've already stated, I need the Vampire Goddess involved, even if she's only writing lyrics and looking creepy...maybe she could do Elvish lyric moments (she speaks Sindarin!). I'd get Homie Bear to guest vocal in the Cookie Monster role - he listens to Slipknot and Korn, and did gang vocals on the aforementioned Skeleton Army so I assume he can do this. And Dave's girlfriend is a great singer...so there's my female vocalist, with my wife Jenica providing powerful harmonies. Of course, my brother in law Evolving Blu will drum, but only after he magically learns double kick. The group still needs a keyboardist who gets big classical music, and my first pick for this would be old friend Philip Paschke, who would make an excellent elf given the bone structure of his face.
And I already have my kick ass Viking-inspired name which evokes thoughts of cold dark northern lands...Gotthammer. Man, it's too cool. I'd probably even get to wear a sword on stage. But I'm not growing the hair out again. I'll just get a wig...and a guitar that looks like a battle-axe.