Rising metalhead horror author John Boden peppered his recent haunting, lyrical coming-of-age novella Jedi Summer With The Magnetic Kid with a slew of knowing nods to eighties heavy metal and hard rock. And he’s cited such distorted-yet-diverse bands as Masters of Reality and the Pixies as influences on his delightfully demented post-apocalyptic children’s book Dominoes. So it seemed apropos to hit the eloquent Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based world-builder up for a few recommendations on where those looking to blend their loves of reading n’ riffage.
“Music is the best inspiration we have. It can be subtle or heavy,” Boden tells Decibel. “It whispers and shrieks. Caresses and wrenches. It is as essential as air or water. It is timeless, I love this quote from Martin Luther: ‘My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.’ He died in 1546. This quote is just as true today. Probably more so.
“I could have included a zillion tracks; hit bands like Hawkwind, Blind Guardian and Megadeth,” he adds. “I could have done a list of twenty and made them all Iron Maiden songs. I could have touched on Sabbath and Slayer and a million other bands. I just threw down what came to me, off the top of my head. I’m not much of a non-fiction article writer. I’m a fiction guy. The main thing this piece is about is inspiration. These artists were all moved to create these songs by reading a book or story, that may very well have been inspired by another song or piece of music. That’s some Möbius strip shit right there!”
Check out what Boden sent along below. His latest effort, Detritus In Love, is out now.
1. Helstar — “Baptized In Blood”
Helstar were a fairly no-frills power metal act that came out in the mid-80s. In 1989, they gave us the album, Nosferatu, it’s first side a metal-opera based on Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula. If you like your metal with fast riffs, pummeling drums and balls-in-a-vice pitch vocals. These cats are up your alley.
2. Corrosion of Conformity — “Wiseblood”
While we all know they started out as a hardcore band, C.O.C. eventually shed their skin and grew into one of the better sludgy/doomy bands of the 90’s. This album, in particular is a stoner metal head’s wet dream. The song was based on the novel by Flannery O’ Connor. A fantastic book about a charlatan who takes up the cloak of religion to deceive.
3. Iron Maiden — “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”
This track from the band’s Powerslave album is my absolute favorite Maiden song. Period. Inspired and named for my favorite poem of all time, written by Samuel Coleridge. It is an epic song that crawls and flexes for nearly fifteen minutes, telling the tale of the old sailor and the dire fate he brings upon himself and his crew when he acts foolishly and selfishly. I learned more from this song than I did when we went over this poem in English class.
4. Marillion — “Grendel”
Progressive-rockers Marillion have delivered a lot of albums of the years and given over to nearly as many personnel changes. This song is an interesting one to note as it was inspired by the John Gardner novel, Grendel — itself an inspired re-telling of the Beowolf, this time given from the monster’s point-of-view.
4. Anthrax — “Among The Living”
This song, from the Decibel Hall of Fame album of the same name, was inspired by the Stephen King novel, The Stand. Anthrax also turned in the song “Misery Loves Company” on State Of Euphoria, which was inspired by another King novel, Misery. “Skelton In The Closet” also from their “Among The Living” album owes its existence to the King novella, Apt Pupil.
5. Alan Parsons Project — “The Raven”
Not a metal act at all, but definitely one of my absolute favorite progressive artists. This track, from the album Tales Of Mystery And Imagination is a dark and moody synthesized wonder of music all woven around the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Special Metal Nerd trivia: This song is playing during the scene where Alice Cooper sits in the rocking chair and reads about his cursed bloodline in the 1983 Spanish werewolf film, Monster Dog.
6. Metallica — “One”
I could not in good faith, craft a list and not include this song. In the 80’s I was quite the Metallica fanboy — even if the band ceased to exist in my world after they released the black album. From the somber opening to the machine gun drumming and riffage, this song manages to capture all of the intensity of Dalton Trumbo’s novel, Johnny Got His Gun. Back when I was young, this book was taught in schools…hey, do they even assign books anymore?!
7. Rush — “2112”
Rush are only the best fucking progressive-rock band of all time. I will hear no arguments to the contrary. That said, this album is only the best one they ever made, and they have given us oh so many great ones. The title song is based on the books, Anthem by Ayn Rand. (Also of note David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things” was inspired by the same work.) The trio from the great white north did an amazing job of translating a pile of self-absorbed dreck by one of the most over-rated and rubbish writers into a palatable and heavy-as-hell song guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most condescending of metal heads lips.