Epic Metal: Definitions (I)

In the last months, Aidan (Divine Victim) and me (André, Blaze Breeg) made a lot of interviews with very interesting artists who had a lot to say. Regularly, we asked them about their opinion on the term “epic metal“. A tough one, for sure… Here are the answers of members of the following bands: Morgul Blade, Runemaster, Seven Sisters, Stormburner, Fer de Lance and On Atlas‘ Shoulders. Enjoy reading!

Aidan Stein: In my opinion you got some quite epic tunes. How would you define Epic Metal?

Lord Klauf (Morgul Blade): I am so glad you asked this because I think the term is a little misleading. To me “epicness“ really is achieved by three things. Number one is atmosphere. Our music isn’t the most complicated, and my vision for the band is to achieve a listening experience. Something that takes you to a far off realm, and away from the mundane. Escapism is so so so important when being faced with crushing modernity everyday. Number two is lyrical content. We spin tales of Magick and Might, tales of the Forlorn who march to their doom in defense of the kingdom. This works well for us, and it’s all part of the worldbuilding immersion that we try to convey. We don’t limit ourselves to strictly Tolkien based lore as our name would suggest, hell, we even have a song on the new album about a werewolf crisis in Southern France in 1763. Number three would be self-conviction to the point of an almost hubris. You can’t convey emotions or wonder in something you yourself don’t believe in. I am a nerd, fantasy is a huge part of my life and upbringing. When all the other kids were going to parties in High School, I was in my basement rolling joints and reading Tolkien and European Folklore. It’s not what most people would choose to do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

André Krause: How would you define the term “epic metal“? And what’s, in your opinion, special about it?

Aidan (Runemaster): For me Manowar is basically the definition of epic metal! It’s not really what I’d class Runemaster as though, I just see us as a heavy metal band.

Keith (Runemaster): I think of epic metal as normally being European metal about battles etc with a very uplifting tone. I don’t see Runemaster as epic metal either, definitely more heavy metal. 

Guv (Runemaster): Aidan has a valid point with Manowar but for me epic metal is completely and utterly Manilla Road.

Aidan Stein: As you might know this blog is devoted to the epic tunes of metal. But do you yourself actually regard Seven Sisters as an epic metal band?

Kyle (Seven Sisters): I don’t think we do. When you say the words “epic metal” it conjures up bands like Atlantean Kodex – bands that exclusively aim for that huge, colosseum-filling, almost sorrowful atmosphere. At least in my mind, anyway. I don’t think we fit that description – we’re perhaps a bit too perky, ha! We definitely have songs that could be considered “epic” for other reasons though. I think The Cauldron and The Cross pt.1 + pt.2 fit in to the brackets of epic metal.

André Krause: How would you define the term epic metal?

Mike Stark (Stormburner): For me it is more about what feelings the music incites within. It doesn’t necessary have to be “All in“ on Sword & Sorcery or a reciting of the Illiad for me to call it “epic“. When I listen to music and feel strong emotions like: Heroism, gallantry or Power and Greatness it is usually what I would define as epic in my book. The subgenre named “epic metal“ with many great bands like Manilla RoadCirith UngolVisigothBrocas Helm or Battleroar, to name a few, is really cool, and I do listen to a lot of these bands but I probably wouldn’t categorize Stormburner as a band into this subgenre, some of our songs, absolutely. I would probably describe our style more as “heavy metal with an epic touch“.

Aidan Stein: As one can read, we are devoted to the epic tunes in metal and without a doubt Fer de Lance has one of the most epic sounds I have heard in a long time. How do you define epic metal and what makes epic metal so special in your opinion?

Wolf (Fer de Lance): It’s an amorphous term, isn’t it? For example, I’d say that both Atlantean Kodex and Cirith Ungol both play Epic Metal but sound nothing alike. So I’m not sure it’s something I can accurately define. However, I will say that in my opinion, no band exemplifies “epic metal“ as much as Manilla Road. The atmospheres of their music and their lyrical topics all create a sense of arcane power and mystery that engrosses the listener. I would say that epic metal requires that; an immersive nature that takes the listener away on a journey of sorts.

Read the whole interview

André Krause: On our blog, we focus on metal with epic elements. How would you define the term “epic“ regarding music?

Ben (On Atlas‘ Shoulders): I would say that “epic“ elements could come in the form of lyrics and/or the music itself. In terms of music, it could have an uplifting, fighting spirit, creating an aura that elevates you to battlefields or greater-than-life emotions, but could also manifest itself in an extremely tragic feeling, epic despair, fighting a fight you cannot win, that kind of thing. In terms of guitar work, certain musical keys, harmonies and playing styles support this as well.

Marius (On Atlas‘ Shoulders): In terms of lyrics, I would say it has to be big, soaring and also to some degree “beautiful“. Choirs or multi-layered singing in the background contribute as well. In the end, you have to achieve a bombastic effect and sometimes some folk-ish elements can help a lot.

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