Thursday, June 30, 2011

Metallica versus Gamebooks

"Writing about music is (as they say) like dancing about architecture."
(Beaumont, 2005)

So there I was wandering through Coop's classic blog post on the influences of the British Old School and I stumbled upon his shout-out to Iron Maiden, king of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Maiden fully deserve a future blog post in their own right, but to me, and particularly my adolescent self back in the mid to late 80's, they were part of the the Big Three M's of Metal, the other two being Motorhead (and I'm not even going to attempt to find a bloody umlaut) and Metallica. Whether I was reading gamebooks, planning D&D adventures, or playing boardgames, all these guys formed the background soundtrack.

When I hit University however, I quickly abandoned Metal in favour of cooler if more obscure indie, alternative and hardcore bands such as Dead KennedysBlack Flag, Rollins Band, FugaziBig Black, Butthole Surfers, Killdozer, Godflesh, and local stalwarts The Mark of Cain. The sounds were more ferocious, the t-shirts more subtle and yet more disgusting, and there was no bloody spandex to be seen, praise Satan!

Fast forward half a decade and I'm in Vientiane, capital of the Peoples' Democratic Republic of Laos, and discover one of my buddies has all the early Metallica albums (I only consider the first four decent - the Black Album and anything beyond that are just garbage IMHO). To get me through the tedious hedonism of expatriate life in Indochine I compile a 90 minute mix tape of all my favourite Metallica tracks that I used to listen to, back when I was playing gamebooks.

I've still got the tape (still have all my tapes being such a chronic Luddite), and I present its track listing here for your edification, so that if you too were absorbing the sounds of Metallica while battling your way through countless dungeons it may strike a chord of nostalgia. Otherwise, for those who are too old, too young or perhaps too cool, consider it a snapshot of a time fondly remembered but perhaps best forgotten...

The Metallica versus Gamebooks Mix Tape (c90, 1996, Laos)

Side A
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
The Thing That Should Not Be
Jump in the Fire
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Orion (instrumental)
Damage Inc.
(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth (instrumental)

Side B
Fade To Black 
Master of Puppets
Creeping Death
The Call of Ktulu (instrumental)
To Live Is to Die (edit - first minute only)
The Wait

Possibly the only thing I'd change these days would be to ditch For Whom the Bell Tolls and Pulling Teeth in favour of Metallica's epic cover of Diamond Head's Am I Evil?. Generally however, I feel that's a pretty solid selection of Metallica tunes, with the bulk of the material coming from their most excellent second and third albums, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. Rock and roll!


Beaumont, R. (2005, February 27). Fine writing and reasonable force. The Nation, p. 10A.


  1. Shouldn't it be Iron Maiden for proper British OSR?

    Buying some paint in Games Workshop the other day they were playing Can I Play With Madness. Now that is a soundtrack for Warhammer!

  2. Sorry, somehow I managed to miss your first paragraph!


  3. Hey Bargle, you are right in that Iron Maiden should be front and centre, but I already had the Metallica mix up and running, whereas the Irons one is going to take a bit of research (not having actively listened to them since, oh, 1989 (*shame*)).

    Don't worry though - there will be the Irons next, followed by Motorhead!



  4. I like the Black Album better than their early stuff...

    For me, a bit of Led Zeppelin or early Queen stuff (especially Queen II) evokes the right atmosphere. Or folk music.

  5. I'm not so keen on the Black Album but Led Zep and Queen are good (lean towards the Highlander soundtrack they did on It's a Kind of Magic!).

    These days I find myself listening to a lot of ambient and electronic, as well as local Thai indie, but that's a whole other series of posts!

    Iron Maiden soon, hopefully!