Posts Tagged ‘metal’

The Shire’s Underground Metal Scene

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Recently, I collaborated with fellow metalhead and badass illustrator Matt Smith on something that we attempted to publish at McSweeney’s. Suffice it to say that the norns wove a highly unfavorable fate over this humble effort because McSweeney’s flat-out rejected it due to a perceived lack in interest in heavy metal and hobbits among its readers, which is probably apt since the site tracks its pieces’ popularity and in 2017 rarely publishes anything that doesn’t have to do with Trump, women’s issues, or child-rearing (thank Odin my gimmick of Mark Wahlberg riffing on Norse history was accepted way back during the site’s glory days when eccentric and topically irrelevant humor was dominant). Anyway, Matt and I watched from the sidelines as our piece got stabbed, speared, and decapitated like an inferior warrior on an ancient northern battlefield, but lo! A smile did creep across our faces when the valkyries chose to bring it to this digital Valhalla where the brave shall live forever.

THE EPICNESS OF OUR LIVE SHOW

GOES ALL THE WAY TO ELEVENTY

Like a piping-hot pork pie pulled fresh from the oven, the uncertainty of Middle-Earth’s survival hangs thick in the sweaty, night air. The hors d’oeuvres are gone, the pre-show music has started its slow descent towards nothingness, and only the occasional whistle or jeer for faster service can be heard. The stage is set, the kettle is rumbling, and finally, the curtain is drawn and the backdrop revealed. A lavishly well-stocked larder looms high overhead, its countless jars of herbs and jams, pastries and fruit pies sending tingles down the spine of every famished guest gathered before us. …Hail onwards »

Vikingaliv: Return of the Swedish Pagans

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Stockholm’s got a brand new Viking museum on the way, set to open next weekend! And it’s about damn time, too. New Viking museums don’t come along often enough, or outside of Scandinavia enough either for that matter, but that’s a separate topic that will only lead to a downward spiral of depression and heavy mead drinking if followed.

So then on that uplifting note…Vikingaliv aims to rectify Stockholm’s problem of not having a full-out museum dedicated solely to Vikings. Its creators are promising an educational experience unlike any other, one based on the latest research to give visitors a complete and accurate representation of the Old Norse lifestyle. It will also have original artifacts on loan from Historiska Museet and a shop and restaurant selling and serving authentic, local goods and food. And being situated on Stockholm’s leafy Djurgården island beside Vasamuseet (17th century piratical-style ship museum) and Junibacken (the ultra hardcore Pipping Longstocking museum), Vikingaliv is set to be in good company.

And for those of us on the wrong side of the Atlantic, at least we have some genuine Swedish pagans from Falun visiting us tonight:

True Corporate Black Metal

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

It’s 2017 now and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, which means it’s high time to address the crucial and critically important question: what would happen if you combined a corporate office environment with a diehard black metal dude? The topic is a mystery for the ages and a clear deviation from my usual, unhealthy obsession with Vikings, but it’s one that’s still aggressive and still Scandinavian. Read more about it here on McSweeney’s:

I Bring the Soul-Defiling Spirit of True Norwegian Black Metal to Our Corporate Office Environment

And while we’re on the topic of true metal, I recently had the chance to visit Trve Brewing in Denver, where they combine tasty craft brews with the ambience and ethos of metal. What’s not to like about that? Check out the photo that I took of their beer menu and the two graphic images of their labels that I pilfered off their own website:

Appeasing the Gnomes of Midwinter Darkness

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Yuletide’s once again upon us and what better way to celebrate the season than by admiring Þorgerðr Hǫlgabrúðr’s rain of death and destruction upon the Jomsvikings in an epic medieval sea battle as is shown in the image below?

Or how about this one, in which King Hrolf Kraki spreads gold upon the fields of Fyrisvellir to distract and escape the dastardly Swedes in Uppsala?

These scenes of pivotal moments from the Norse sagas were drawn by Jenny Nyström, who interestingly, was also responsible for popularizing the prevailing imagery of the Jultomte, the notorious gnome of Scandinavian folklore who demanded to be appeased with a bowl of porridge during the month of December or else he would start conducting some serious mischief, like tying cows’ tails together or knocking shit over.

Jenny Nyström was very prolific with her work, supporting not only herself, but also her invalid husband and their son. She was born in Kalmar, Sweden, where there is now an exhibit at the county museum dedicated to her honor. She passed away 70 years ago, but thankfully left behind many runes to her own memory.

And on a side note, since we’re heading into the darkest depths of winter, here’s a little something to help set the mood:

Dream Hard On

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

For anyone who’s ever wondered about the demeanor of Odin’s wiener, Swedish warrior-poet turned slacker-beach-bum Björn Svensson finally sheds some light on the topic. And it turns out that ole One-Eye’s own one-eyed warrior is a feisty little dream-weaver. Horns up to Jersey Devil Press for not ruthlessly rejecting this majestic piece of thoughtfully-constructed and immaculately-researched investigative journalism:

Dream Hard On

Also, if the topics of Odin’s wiener, nightmares, heavy drinking, and heavy metal interest you, check out the precursor too:

Fear and Loathing in Western Sweden

Finally, what post about the nine worlds’ most worldly one-eyed warrior would be complete without a reminder of his immense power?

Djurgårdsbron: Where Silent Gods Stand Guard

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Djurgårdsbron is a bridge in central Stockholm where Freyja, Thor, Frigg, and Heimdall stand guard…silently. Just Like in the song, only minus all the decapitations and shape-shifting into wolf-form. And for some reason Odin is missing from the entourage. But otherwise, just like in the song. And if you cross the bridge, you don’t arrive in Asgard, but rather Djurgården (essentially Swedish for “Animal Farm”…menacing, indeed), one of Stockholm’s many islands and home to, among other attractions, the official Pippi Longstocking museum (also very menacing).

The statues were created by Rolf Adlersparre while the bridge was designed by architect Erik Josephson and built by Carl Fraenell in 1897 for the world expo that took place on Djurgårdsbron the same year. The old-timey photographs look pretty hardcore, but not nearly as hardcore as medieval wolf-men wielding swords and slaying all foresworn enemies in an endless orgy of slaughter and mayhem:

Barbarian Lord Tells It Like It Is

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Barbarian Lord is both a hardcore boozer who possesses extremely violent behavioral patterns and a keen appreciation for poetry AND the name of the recently* released graphic novel dedicated to portraying his adventures in boozing, brawling, and poetic appreciation. As Barbarian Lord’s own personal real-life skald, Matt Smith sings Barbarian Lord’s praises and spreads his renown to those of us who are not fortunate enough to lift a sword and join in his adventures firsthand. Matt’s also an all-around good guy who I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a few horns with at local venues ranging from “the highest hall” to “the lowest cave” (in his own words, and if you know the area then you can likely guess what those are).

But getting back to the book, this is the sort of work for people who like the following:

-Vikings (obviously)
-Icelandic sagas
-Heroic understatement
-Badass illustrations
-Evil trolls and other monsters
-Vicious conniving
-Sexy witches who maim innocent birds
-Demonic possession of domesticated farm animals
-And, last but definitely not least, death metal allusions

If you’re even at this weird, little website, then that should be enough to convince you to hail the hero himself at http://barbarianlord.com/ and to join his quest for justice, drinking, and killing all who stand in his way.

*I say “recently” somewhat loosely because it was actually released last summer, but being only half a year behind the times is a step in the right direction for me. The last time I blogged about a book, I was three years late. Skål for punctuality!

New England Coastal Sampo

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

“This was Estonindian black metal dub. Music for wounded bears as they shrugged off tranquilizer darts. A genre so conclusively suicide-inducing, blue-ribbon Congressional panels were afraid to listen to it. If Francis Scott Key had been a ninth-century raider whose head was still throbbing and clanging from an ax-blow to the helmet, standing with one hand braced on the dragon prow of his longship watching his enemies’ tarred warships burn in an uncanny blue bituminous haze, while unseen galley slaves chanting the stroke rumbled the ship from below, he may have closed his eyes, thought of Ragnarok, and composed an anthem like this.”

The above passage is taken from page 229 of Corwin Ericson’s Swell, and it epitomizes everything that I like about the novel, which is easily the best that I’ve read in the past few years. The book is set on a fictitious island off the coast of Maine and follows the misadventures of slacker/protagonist Orange Whippey as he gets sucked into a bizarre series of events involving cranky old fishermen, highly literate Korean smugglers, a North Atlantic whale-herding skald, and an intimidating Thor-cult priestess. This is a book for anyone who enjoys the following:

-Quirks of coastal New England culture
-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
-Metal (the music)
-Penis humor
-Norse mythology
-Experimentation on whales
-The Kalevala
-Alternate Abenaki/Sami history

The book was actually published in 2011, but I sadly didn’t discover it until a few weeks ago, since I have a great talent at being behind the times. I can at least claim to be the person who ordered amazon.com’s last in-house copy (but you can still get it through one of their affiliate vendors, which you should do). If further convincing is needed, check out these links, provided by Corwin himself, since we’re facebook friends (which makes it official):

http://mymemoriesofafuturelife.com/2011/12/13/the-undercover-soundtrack-corwin-ericson/

http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2012/06/book_notes_corw.html

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Quorthon

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

It was only a matter of time until Quorthon’s name was added to this not-so-golden hall of Heroes of Norse Proliferation, and that time has finally come. I unfairly prolonged that time with my uncanny ability to slack off at updating this obscure blog, but despite my best efforts to be ineffective and lazy, I can’t fight fate forever, and neither could the All Father of Viking Metal for that matter. He’s dead, and here I am, no longer going on a full-out berserker-level rampage of neglect and laziness at promoting his glory.

I hope most of you who have somehow managed to find this website know who he is. If you don’t, check out this short biography, then drink some mead and watch this video:

Skálmöld Trip Out with the Wolf

Friday, September 27th, 2013

It’s the last Frey’s day of the month, the nights are becoming longer than the days, the average daily temperatures are dropping, and “winter is coming.” That makes it a perfect time to trip out with Icelandic Viking metal band Skálmöld in their new music video. In it they take us on a journey through their wild Icelandic landscape and show us all sorts of strange on-goings involving that demon-woman Hel, Odin hanging out passively on the top of a cliff, the iron-ribbon Gleipnir wrapping around a young girl, and the wolf shaking the shit out of his fur to get dry. Pretty badass.

Also, the video itself was created by Bowen Staines who originally hails from New Hampshire, so this is a nice New England-Scandinavia collaboration!

Chiseling the Scandinavian Cheekbones

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

So I just gave this website a major facelift, and by that I mean that there is now a very aggressive-looking, native Blue Sheep from Birka hanging out in the background off towards the right (and slightly towards the left as well, but that guy is fainter). If you look closely, you will be able to admire the finely chiseled cheekbones of the individual to the right, which is a trait he shares with the lovely Scandinavian women. You may also be able to see the killer intent in his eyes. I figure he is probably pretty good buddies with the even more hardcore Icelandic Killer Sheep:

 photo Icelandic_Killer_Sheep_zpsc3993d02.jpg

In fact, this guy is so intent on being aggressive that he goes around looking like he should probably stop trying already and just transform himself into a Norwegian black metal band instead. You used to be able to get his mugshot on t-shirts like the one pictured above, but that website seems to have been plucked away by some misguided valkyrie, though the corresponding myspace page still exists.

On a side note, I’m going to make a better effort at updating this damned blog on a regular basis again (as opposed to 1 post every 6 months). I finally got myself dislodged from the bigass boulder that I was living under since last fall and it is good to see the world again. Some sad things happened in that time (Stockholm burned, Boston bombed to name just 2) but some good, exciting things are indeed afoot: Amon Amarth is releasing a new album this month, the days are long, and the Bruins are in the finals. So, skål to summer!

Raise a Horn to the New Year’s Winter Darkness

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

So I’m not very big on timely, punctual, or even consistent blog updates, but I am big on depictions of majestic northern landscapes, especially if they feature Viking ships plowing the waters under what I presume to be the aurora borealis. Or maybe it’s meant to be the midnight sun, I’m not really sure, and that’s besides the point. The point is: here’s a badass Nicholas Roerich painting for you to look at and help you get psyched for the coming long haul of bleak winter cold and darkness now that the holiday festivities are over:

And just to clarify who this Nicholas Roerich fellow was, those of you who are more versed in 100-year old Viking-inspired artwork might recognize this one:

That’s right, that one shows a bunch of Varangians sailing down from Sweden or perhaps one of their colonies at Staraya Ladoga or Novgorod on their way to really fuck shit up for the Slavs and maybe just do a little something like establish the entire fucking country of Russia as we now know it. Anyway, from what I can tell, this Roerich guy was a bit of a Russian nutjob but was well known for his paintings, along with other philosophical-type works, and was referenced in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, which is a fact that ought to appeal to anyone with a dark imagination (especially for anyone living in the New England area). And while we’re on the topic of dark imaginations and darkness and winter, it seems only appropriate to also promote this little, old-time ditty:

Death in Digital Fire / World Reborn

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

During the middle of the month, this site was sacked, pillaged, and put to the sword. My poor little Viking-toy-avatar-thing was passed around like an unfortunate Irish woman during the great Norwegian conquest of what was to become Dublin. But as the great story says, that which was the end would soon be reborn. I’m a little disappointed that so far this world looks worse than the previous one, but then that’s what I get for not backing up my goddamned files in over a year. Anyway, the site’s back up, and I’m going to try to work on getting some of the lost material back on here in the coming days/weeks (I’m slow). And if anyone knows how to include an image in a header in this newest version of wordpress, that’d be killer if you could let me know, since I’m no good at this shit. Skål!

Victorious March!

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

I’m not sure whether this painting is saying, “We are coming to destroy everything in our path!” or “We have just destroyed everything in our path!”, but either way, if this isn’t a victorious march of some sort, then I don’t know what is. John Charles Dollman wasn’t dicking around when he painted these Vikings 100 years ago. He imbued them with noble glory, and that glory still lives on today, even though most people don’t even know it exists. There’s a lot to lament about in that statement, but rather than spiral downward into an eternal pit of despair, why don’t we take a look at another victorious march while we’re on that topic:

Or this one, which is what inspired me to post an entry relating to victorious marches today of all days anyway in the first place. It just goes to show, that in some cases, despair is not always eternal!

(I pilfered the photo from the Boston Globe’s honorable photo montage.)

Glory in a Bottle

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The Norsky brewers up at HaandBryggeriet are clearly modern day recipients of Odin’s wisdom and have held a cherished spot on my Viking Barley Brew list ever since I first compiled it. But they wanted to outdo themselves and so they started to age some of their brew in aquavit barrels, and the result is this Barrel-Aged Porter, complete with Norse carving decor on the label. Midgård would be a better place if there were more people like these guys out there, so skål to them!

Then on a more somber and unrelated note, the online literary magazine Bananafish recently suicided itself. This saddens me because Bananafish was one of those few sites that actually acknowledged the importance of writing about drunken leprechauns being held hostage in Viking dungeons, which is not a topic that most literary venues value. (And also the guy who ran the site seemed like a nice fellow). So, anyway, since Bananafish is now down for the count, I’ve reposted the content of my story that had been published there, and it can be found on the Encounter with a Miscreant page.

Lastly, a few parting words for the fallen Bananafish, plundered verbatim from the mighty Ville Laihiala (formerly of Sentenced):

“The shadows growing deep
We’ll be gone eternally
Our stars have fallen from the sky
Our dreams have faded into the night
No tomorrow
Not for us
Death and sorrow
Dust to dust
Dust to dust.”