Epic Retellings: Warlord’s “Achilles’ Revenge”

I have a habit of keeping my eyes out for epic retellings, if you recall my post about Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze. My friend Tom recently posted a video on Facebook of Warlord playing “Achilles’ Revenge”.

There is something appropriate about a heavy metal song singing of Achilles and Troy, a song inspired by the Iliad.This genre of music is, as you can guess from its name, heavy. The song has some pretty good electric guitar work going on, including a guitar solo. It is fast, and it is powerful:

The Iliad, if you read it, is primarily composed of line after line of dactylic hexameters about people dying/killing in various ways between the Achaean ships and the walls of Troy. The action itself may slow down everyone once in a while, but usually through an extended simile or speeches by warriors. The actual fighting, the violence, the aristeiai of the warrior-heroes rarely stops, except maybe to sleep (and even then we have the night raid of Odysseus and Diomedes in Bk 10).

I’m no heavy metal expert, but my friend Sebastien once gave me a CD of Power Metal. Power Metal is the epic, mythical sub-genre, to be held in distinction from Death Metal and other sub-genres. Power Metal is so epic that the singers often cast themselves as heroes and warriors riding forth together to engage in some sort of great quest. They sing songs about dragons and wizards and other such things. I understand that it is a largely Scandinavian phenomenon. (If I’m wrong, please correct me.)

As much as I like, say, Les Troyens by Berlioz or The Return of Ulysses by Monteverdi, I think Achilles and his mates would have been more attracted to heavy metal than opera. Opera is beautiful and complex, but heavy metal is also complex and has its own, different beauty.

Heavy metal also has the force and power of an epic warrior driving it along. Opera takes too long to say anything. Achilles will have converse with you, briefly, then plunge his sword through your throat, casting your shade to Hades as you fall face forward and bite the dust.

The Iliad is the poem of force, as Simone Weil demonstrates. Heavy metal is the music of force. This union of the two just makes sense.


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