Time for something a little different. Let’s talk about music.
I just finished listening to the new Ayreon album Transitus and omg, mind blown. Not going to talk about that just now though, since a tie-in comic book was released alongside this album and I do not yet have my hands on that comic. Not much point for a book reviewer to review a story without having read the book.
In the meantime, I decided to scratch this itch to rave about some metal with a list of six science fiction songs I like. Not necessarily the best science fiction metal songs, or even my favourite. Just six songs I’ve been loving lately and feel like sharing. I was thinking of doing a science fiction/fantasy list, but then it would end up being a 100 song list of fantasy. Metal and Fantasy just goes together really well. Even better than Metal and Horror prossibly. Hell, there is even a band out there called Battlelore whose music genre is often listed as ‘Tolkien Metal’.
That being said, I’m not against compiling a huge list of fantasy metal songs. Or maybe just an endless SF/F playlist. Or maybe I’ll just throw out random lists of ten songs whenever I get bored of talking about books.
Here are ten science fiction metal songs I really love. Only one from each band though. Preferably, I’m going with songs that have music videos.
- The Final Frontier – Iron Maiden
There are a lot of Iron Maiden songs with science fiction themes, but Final Frontier holds a special place in my heart. It is my funeral song.
“I have lived my life to the full,
I have no regrets,
But I wish I could talk to my family to tell them,
One last goodbye”
This song is a real headbanger, it is very obviously set in space, and there is a lot of emotion in the lyrics. Being released in 2010, Final Frontier is not one of Iron Maiden’s classic songs, but it is one of my favourites. I suppose 2010 is now so far in the past that anything from this era is nostalgic for me now.
The full track is titled Satellite 15… The Final Frontier (Fitting for the band’s 15th studio album. Also not the first time they’ve numbered an album, with Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, The X Factor, and Virtual XI being the Seventh, Tenth and Eleventh albums respectively.) The first part of the song, the Satellite 15 section, is this long, eachoy, dramatic voice log of an astronaut realising he is about to fall into the sun and hoping his final message reaches someone. Then the guitar kicks in for the Final Frontier part, and damn I hope I can look back and have no regrets as I fall into the sun. As much as I like the entire combo, I did end up editing the song so I had just the Final Frontier part without the long intro. Sometimes, I just want to play that song on repeat and headbang.
Iron Maiden were the first touring band I went to see live. I was almost late for my Year 12 graduation because tickets to the first Australian Maiden tour in decades went on sale the same day. Just before the school day was set to start, my friends and I were hovering over my computer waiting for the second those tickets went on sale. That was before the Final Frontier album though, so I have not seen this song performed live. The Iron Maiden show I saw was the Somewhere Back in Time tour, where they played a lot of their biggest hits. And there was a giant cyborg Somewhere in Time Eddie storming onto the stage during the show. Amazing night.
2. Unheavenly Creatures – Coheed and Cambria
This is the song that introduced me to Coheed and Cambria, and that introduction came from Youtube’s recommendations algorithm. I’d never heard of Coheed and Cambria before this, but I’m a big fan now. Thanks Youtube.
Coheed and Cambria albums usually tell a story in their Amory Wars science fiction saga. The album this song is from is titled Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures and is the first installment of a new story in the Amory Wars universe. I have not yet caught up with all the backstory, but I love this album so much.
The album Unheavenly Creatures tells the story of Space Bonnie and Clyde, aka Creature and Sister Spider, who are imprisoned on a penal planet called the Dark Sentencer after a bank robbery. The song Unheavenly Creatures is about the robbery and Creature’s grief after being told that Sister Spider died during it. A full flashback to the robbery – complete with a cool dance – can be found with the music video for the song Old Flames.
I love the video for this song. It looks like such a sci-fi B-movie, and it gives a taste at the type of storytelling Coheed and Cambria put into their songs. Since discovering this song, I’ve been working my way through the Coheed and Cambria back catalog, and I’m loving pretty much everything I hear.
3. Ayreon – Ride the Comet
I wanted to include a song from the Ayreon Universe concert, and chose Ride the Comet because a) it is an awesome but overlooked song that deserves some love, and b) None of my other picks for this list have female vocalists, and Maggy Luyten is amazing here.
Ride the Comet originally comes from the 01011001 album, which tells the story of an alien race called the Forever losing their emotions and creating humanity in an attempt to rediscover them. This song is about the Forever putting extremophiles (microbes that thrive in extreme conditions. Like Tardigrades) that contain their DNA on a comet and sending it to Earth. The comet wipes out the dinosaurs, and leads to the evolution of humans.
Ride the Comet opens with the line Find your way home, little extremophiles, and that just makes me unreasonably happy. There are not enough songs out there with immortal aliens singing to little extremophiles.
4. Clarity – Protest the Hero
Might be a bit of a stretch to call this a science fiction song, but it seems to be about science fiction and fantasy fandom. Kinda, in that weird vague Protest the Hero way. Also, I wanted to go back and watch that lyric video with the epic Star Wars vs Star Trek battle again. Unfortunately it seems the video was removed from the band’s official chanel, but it has been reupload.
Clarity is the lead track of the Volition album. Volition was entirely crowdfunded, and it was also my first Protest the Hero album. It wasn’t my first exposure to the band, but it was when I really started to love them. A big reason for that love was this awesome song with it’s goofy video.
I got to see Protest the Hero live while they were touring for Volition and they opened with this song. What a night that was. My fiance and I accidently broke into the venue early and were mingling with the VIP ticket buyers. We did not have VIP tickets, but it took forever for anyone to notice. The members of the band were meeting and greeting nearby, but I was too nervous (and maybe a bit guilty since I wasn’t supposed to be there) to go say hello. So instead I raided the merch stand; got the last small tour shirt with this awesome peacock and hourglass art. I have completely worn that shirt out now, but I don’t have the heart to throw it away.
Speaking of Protest the Hero, their new album, Palimpsest is one of the heaviest, catchiest albums I’ve heard in a while. Also, has a theme of American history and ‘greatness’ that feels very topical and calls out a fair amount of crap.
5. Iron Man -Black Sabbath
Yup, I am Iron Man. Enough said. Though as someone born in the 90s who has never seen this music video before… wtf, Ozzy Osbourne used to be young? I mean, yes that makes perfect sense, but there just seems to be something eternal and unchangeable about the Ozzy we see today.
Iron Man is about a man who travels to the future and sees the apocalypse. While returning to his own time, he gets turned to steel, and his attempts to warn the public about what he has seen are ignored. After being ridiculed and shunned by society, he turns on humanity. Kills the people he once saved. Causes the apocalypse he saw in the future.
And no, the song is not related to the Iron Man comics in any way.
There isn’t a lot more to say about this song. I imagine there are very few people who haven’t heard it at some point, and it is a classic song for a very good reason.
6. Painkiller – Judas Priest
Speaking of Iron Man, let’s not forget that other metal cyborg hero that comes to save humanity. This time though, the dude has a cool motorbike. Judas Priest’s Painkiller is probably one of the most metal songs ever.
It was one of my favourite song back in high school, but as my music tastes grew and I lost the harddrive of my computer with most of my music, I sorta forgot about this gem. After retrieving my old high school music and adding about a gigabyte worth of songs to my car playlist, I had the Painkiller album come on one day when I was driving to work. Hearing that amazing drum opening reminded me how amazing this song – hell, this entire album – was. For me, listening to Painkiller is like being seventeen and ready for anything again.
Judas Priest are such an iconic metal band. Rob Halford’s vocals and the twin guitars of Glen Tipton and K. K. Downing have influenced so many other metal bands, and they pioneered the leather look. Their album British Steel is seen by many as the definition of metal, but Painkiller will always be what I think of when I’m asked to define metal. Those opening drums and the two solos in this song are perfect.
Rob Halford performed this song and Breaking the Law with Babymetal in 2016. There are a lot of obvious problems in this world, but things like this remind me that there is a lot of good in the world. I love how music – especially metal – can bring people from very different walks of life together. Fuck the Babymetal haters.
Musical detour complete, I’ll be back with some book reviews soon. Though if you all enjoyed this post, I’d be happy to talk about music more often. Maybe next time I’ll talk about songs based on books.
Before I go, I just want to say RIP Eddie Van Halen. Whilst I was writing this post, I heard about his death, and the world has really lost a legend.
keep rocking everyone,