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Baroness Appendix N Influences
Plus Weezer and "Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground" history of tabletop RPGs
Stellar metal band Baroness released their sixth album Stone last month, and I’ve had it in frequent rotation ever since. It’s smart, dynamic, and progressive with excellent musicianship, vocal harmonies, and songwriting. The cover artwork is done by the band’s lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist John Dyer Baizley. He is a fantastic artist and has done the cover art for all the bands albums, as well as artwork for other bands.
In this Decibel magazine interview, Baizley discusses playing RPG video games. The article also references the artwork of Critical Hit Parader favorites Michael Whelan and Roger Dean. Baizley’s literature influences come right out of Appendix N, as he explains in the following quote from the article:
“Reading is a hugely important pastime of mine. When I need pure escapism, I go towards sort of the classic ’50s, ’60s, ’70s sci-fi, fantasy, swords and sorcery stuff like Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard. I’m sure there’s a couple other slightly more minor players in that. But I’ve always been into that. I read through all the Tolkien stuff really early. I got into the Dragonlance novels back then.”
I encourage you to check out Stone as well as Baroness’s previous albums.
Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground
A new book about tabletop roleplaying games came out last week. Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground is written by Stu Horvath and published by The MIT Press. In this article published in The Quietus, Horvath provides commentary on thirteen of his favorite tabletop RPGs. He is also the co-host of The Vintage RPG podcast, which I recently discovered and have been enjoying. To make the connection to music, his co-host is John “Hambone” McGuire, who is a bassist. In an interview with SagaBorn, McGuire said the following about the intersection of heavy metal and RPGs:
“I honestly think that when Arneson and Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons heavy metal found its soulmate. I grew up listening to classic rock radio, CBS FM and WNEW out of New York City. Everything from Doo Wop to Def Leppard and then became a punk rock kid during my teenage years. With that said, when I heard speed metal for the first time the hairs on my arms stood up. The more I got into Fantasy and RPGs the more metal made sense to me. I love it!”
I love it, too!
Weezer and D&D
They may rock on stage, but off-stage, the members of Weezer are ole-fashioned gamers. In their leisure time, fans would find them playing all sorts of games, including the popular Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. It’s even mentioned in sweet Blue Album deep cut “In the Garage” (“I got a Dungeon Master’s Guide/I got a 12-sided die…”).
The same article included a link to a list of 25 celebrities who play D&D. It included just one whose fame comes in major part from being a musician: Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance. The article includes the following Gerard Way quotes about playing D&D (second quote is from when he was a guest on Dustin Kensrue's Carry the Fire Podcast in October 2019):
"I always played a half-elven ranger," he said in a Time Out interview from January 2015. "I like rangers — they can track things down and use a bow. It was always hard finding clerics though: to find a friend of yours that’d want to play a guy with a mace that healed people. That was very hard."
"Even just from playing and Dungeon Mastering," Way explained, "I learned how to tell stories and was really into that. you learn things even about leadership if you become the party leader. If you're the DM, you learn how to keep people engaged, to keep momentum and keep things moving."
Favorite Year in the 2000’s in 5 Songs
I was a panelist on a recent episode of the Contrarians Youtube channel to discuss which year from 2000 and later is our favorite based on our top 5 albums from that year. I chose the year 2002 and here are my picks:
5. Sea Change by Beck
4. The Odyssey by Symphony X
3. Vapor Trails by Rush
2. Deliverance by Opeth
1. Remedy Lane by Pain of Salvation
If you want to hear my reasons for these, you can watch the whole video here: