Why Metal and the Apocalypse Make Good Bedfellows
By Jack Wallen
When Armand Rosamilia asked me to drop a few words onto paper for the Winter of Zombie 2014 event, the first thing that popped to mind was metal. Not the kind of metal used to make cars, and forks, and industrial-strength vibrators … I’m talking the kind of metal that fuels head banging and the throwing of devil horns.
I’m talking heavy metal music, baby!
But why discuss metal for an event about zombies? The answer to that is simple: Because metal and zombies go hand in hand. I can already hear people shaking, nay banging, their heads to the idea of pushing a stereotype further. Not the whole of metal is gloom, doom, and death. Yes, that is true. But I want to take you down the path less traveled (as I am wont to do).
For me, the gathering of metal and horror (especially zombie fiction) lies as much in the subtleties as in the clearly obvious. Let me use a very specific example. One of my favorite metal bands, Avatar (from Sweden) released a new album called Hail The Apocalypse.
See where I’m going with this? Maybe not.
If you take the whole of the album it tells the tale of a sort of Circus of the Mad. Examine the words from the title track and you’ll get this sense of looming death and “All flesh is equal when burnt”. But for me, the connection between metal and my written works goes well beyond the lyrics of the music. It’s in the thrumming, crunchy guitars, the gut punch of the double bass, the almost cookie monster-like sound of the vocals. Dig deep into the mire and you’ll find an incredible connection to one of the most important elements of metal (at least for me)...
Take a listen to “Hail The Apocalypse”
On the surface you feel this constant, driving, ever-present beat that threatens (should you listen loud enough) to tear you apart. Layered over that you get a counterpoint of the growled lyrics over the dancing guitars. For me, that’s where the connection to metal really digs its hooks into apocalyptic fiction. It’s a familiar, predictability threatened by the unfamiliar and unpredictable. You never know where the melody or words might take you. You can’t be sure if you can trust the underlying chaotic punch and beat. It’s a four-four rhythm offset with the thrust of the unknown that makes metal the perfect soundtrack to the zombie horde. It’s the slow burn of doom punctuated by the chaotic spikes of fear.
When I write, rhythm plays a very important role in my words. The idea of the old iambic pentameter dare not rear its ugly head in my work. The apocalypse needs chaos and to that end, I depend upon a disruption of rhythm the likes only metal can inspire. It’s tossing in emphasis where the reader might not expect it. A long sentence punctuated by a single word or two word sentence.
Keep the reader on their toes.
Metal. Pure … and simple.
Once you get beyond what lies beneath the monster of metal, the pure theatricality of most metal bands serves as such wonderful inspiration. In the costumes, the stage, the lights, the make up, the motifs … everything blends perfectly together to give you the soundtrack to new world order.
Imagine, once the apocalypse hits … will we be cranking Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, or The Decemberists? Hell no. Human kind will be brought back to life by Avatar, Slayer, Judas Priest, and other denizens of the darker melodic delights willing and able to kick hate in the junk and dare the harbingers of doom to push the human race into the realm of extinction.
Metal may not be your cup of tea. But chances are, if you’re a fan of apocalyptic fiction, you’ve heard your fair share of metal tunes – and even possibly cranked one or two up to eleven. Or, if you’re a fan of my fiction, you’ve felt the influence of metal (and music in general) woven through the fabric of the story, the sentences, and the words.
* Jack Wallen is the author of the I Zombies series, including the latest, Cry Zombie Cry (I Zombie Book 8) - Bethany Nitshimi is back and ready to crush the Zero Day Collective with a wall of sound. Together with the metal band Unsun, Bethany will have the undead horde banging their heads until brain runs thick in the streets.
If it's too loud, you're too old...or dead.
See Wallen's Amazon page.
Now some zombie stuff for Winter of #Zombie
Join 10 amazing authors - Joe McKinney, Mark Tufo, Bobby Adair, Eric A Shelman, Jay Wilburn,John O'Brien, Jaime Johnesee, Author Armand Rosamilia, Jack Wallen and Shawn Chesser - for this month-long event filled with interviews, guest posts, teasers from their latest zombie release, and giveaways! See Facebook page for full schedule.
On Twitter? #WinterofZombie
On Twitter? #WinterofZombie
The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
AND so you don't miss any of the posts in November, here's the complete list, updated daily.