A “Metal Town” | Texas in 2013

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August 6, 2009

A “Metal Town”

Reprinted with Permission from MissionsUnknown.com

Ask any music fan, and they’ll tell you San Antonio is, was, and probably always will be, “a metal town.”

Some might even go so far as to call it the Heavy Metal Capital of the World — a moniker that originated in the ‘80s, when bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were getting airplay and headlining gigs here long before they broke into the mainstream.

So here’s a question. Has San Antonio’s history as a Metal Mecca had an impact on the city’s sf/fantasy/horror scene?

Let’s think through this. Pretty much since its beginnings, metal lyrics and imagery have owed a hefty debt to sf, fantasy and horror.

In the ‘70s, Zeppelin tapped J.R.R. TOLKIEN for inspiration, not once but several times (“Misty Mountain Hop” and “Ramble On” being two obvious ones). Blue Oyster Cult used lyrics from sf authors MICHAEL MOORCOCK and JOHN SHIRLEY. Black Sabbath, arguably the first real metal band, had a song called “The Wizard” (about what else?) on its debut album.

By the time the ‘80s rolled around, sf, fantasy and horror had become metal mainstays. Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye” and “Metal Gods” were pure sf, Iron Maiden’s “To Tame a Land” ripped its lyrics straight from FRANK HERBERT’S “Dune,” and Manowar made a campy career out of ROBERT E. HOWARD-esque barbarian anthems.

And that’s just the lyrics. During metal’s heyday, it seemed like the work of well-known genre artists like FRANK FRAZETTA and MICHAEL WHELAN appeared on as many album covers as books. (Yeah, that’s an exaggeration, but don’t stop me when I’m on a roll!)

So, here’s where I’m looking for input from our humble readers — namely those of you with a few Maiden and Motörhead albums in your collections. Did your interest in sf/fantasy/horror spur your interest in heavy metal, or did lyrics of your favorite metal bands prompt you to start reading in the genre?

In other words, which came first for you, “British Steel” or “The Stainless Steel Rat?” Expiring minds want to know.

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1 Comment »

  1. I could have sworn that Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were active long before the ’80′s.


    Comment by Ken Tolliver — December 15, 2009 @ 7:05 pm

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