Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a twice monthly column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…
Writer/editor extraordinaire Kriscinda Lee Everitt‘s brand new Despumation Press “seeks to champion writing that explores the diverse themes metal customarily addresses using language in such a way as to evoke the feeling of listening to the music.” The imprint recently opened up submissions for its first metal-thology Song Stories, and to mark the occasion the Metalnomicon asked Everitt to compose a playlist that might help guide potential contributors toward acceptance while simultaneously giving literary metalheads a glimpse of what is to come. Graciously, she agreed, and sent along the following slate of whimsy, brilliance, and darkness…
Any of these songs can provide a story, but there are literally thousands of songs to choose from. And stories are great, but this is a collection of metal stories, and just being based on a metal song isn’t enough to make the story “metal.” When I read your story out loud, I want to hear the metal. Trying to figure out how to structure your story? Listen to the song; use its rhythm and tempo to hammer out the plot and timing.
Are you at a place where the topic or action seems particularly “metal” to you? Read it out loud. What does it sound like? Are there some consonants that sound more pounding, or sharp, or burning, or stabbing? Are there some vowels that drone on, drag out? Use those words, but don’t sacrifice meaning. How about your setting? Does it evoke the plodding of the drums and bass? Does it look like the vocalist sounds?
I know, right? It’s harder than you thought it’d be.
This is what I’m looking for. Stories that celebrate a song’s theme and sound; stories that read like a live show. Stories that make the reader feel like they’ve just spent twelve hours with a warm beer in their hand, satisfyingly half-time nodding to the bowel-shaking pulse of a double bass, or like they’ve just crawled out of a pit and are wondering if maybe something is broken. It’ll be a challenge for the writer, but I think any writer would welcome it. It’ll also be a challenge for me, as an editor, to sort it all out and find the songs/stories that really embody metal as fiction. It’ll be interesting to see where this leads.
Here are some samples as to how a writer could think of songs as stories…
Death: “Together as One”
Give me a story about Siamese Twins. There’s not exactly any real plotting going on here, so you’ll have to make that up. But don’t give me the fictionalized Happy-Time Adventures of Eng and Chang Bunker. A living hell has begun… Give me that.
Venom: “Don’t Burn the Witch”
How about a story of a witch burning, or a witch saved from burning by some bastard? Again, the plot’s yours to create, but sticking with the imagery here would probably preserve the metal cheese of the song. Eye of lizard, wing of bat, testicle of man, tongue of eagle, brain of rat, Jesus Christ’s left hand… If this wasn’t in a scene, I’d be truly disappointed.
Carcass: “Captive Bolt Pistol”
Leave it to Carcass to force you to do some research. How about a fictionalized account involving Hugo Heiss? I don’t know what would happen; that’s up to you, but read those lyrics: Aimed accles and shelvoke cash/the cranium puncture penetrated and mashed… Whatever it is, it’d better be bad. And you’d better know what Accles and Shelvoke is.
The Locust: “Ass Gravity”
Escape the trap of time/the cage of material/enter balance/acceptance of our cosmic right and their worldly wrong/they are the disease of this life/stolen/when they see that they can’t live without her/they will wish that they hadn’t fucked with her.
That’s it; that’s the whole thing. Put it on loop in the background, sit down, and turn it into a somewhat linear, coherent narrative. It’s a challenge, but it could be good.
Celtic Frost: “Noctural Fear”
Lovecraft fans, rejoice. Might be nice opportunity to go re-read your ratty HPL collections, steal a little inspiration from his Universe, as so many writers have. Throw some of that eldritch verbiage at me. Even the cold moon eclipses/when they adore the dog-faced beast… Get on it; Aza(g)thoth isn’t going to call upon himself. But don’t give me straight-up Lovecraft; in the end, I should hear this song.
Sepultura: “Roots Bloody Roots”
Plot and characters are up to you, but here’s your theme. This could be open to some very wide interpretation, but I suggest sticking close to where the band is. I’ll take you to a place where we shall find our/roots bloody roots… The setting and subject is there. Run with it.
Yeah, you can make a story out of this. How can I really write an interesting, perhaps even complex, story out of, basically, gore lyrics? Answer: Look for the seed. It might not be there, but then, it might. In this case, I’d go for: …tyrants chose their destiny/picked to die at birth… Good place to start. Who? Why? How? Where? Flesh it out; the rest is boiling blood and bile choking.
Craw: “Weedy Species”
Someone please do this one. I would love — truly love — to see someone deconstruct these lyrics and give me a logical story that really utilized every element provided. Meanwhile, back on the planet of weeds/I’m having a grand time with my transformer…