The J.R.R Tolkien legacy at Bloodstock Open Air 2014

How Tolkien is still inspiring the metal and rock community

The J.R.R Tolkien legacy at Bloodstock Open Air 2014

Photographer: Virtual FestivalsAli Ryland on 25 July 2014

The new RAM gallery is also to feature a large selection of Paul Raymond Gregory's album cover work – including Saxon's new release, 'Sacrifice' - thirty years after Paul's first commission for their album 'Crusader' - but the exhibition's centrepiece remains an epic triptych that was directly inspired by Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion'.

Gregory and his art
J.R.R Tolkien, best known as the author of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord Of The Rings', is revered as the father of fantasy literature. His pervasive influence within popular culture is reflected particularly within modern literature and music; the metal genre, especially its heavier poles, are saturated with references to the lore that John Ronald Reuel created. Hence,  Bloodstock Open Air is the perfect place for Paul's artwork and bands likewise creatively inspired; and the fans know it.

I once met a guy in the audience of Blind Guardian at Bloodstock whose sole interest in metal resounded around what he termed 'Lord-Of-The-Ringscore',” says Pete, 26. “He was only there for Blind Guardian and Battlelore the entire weekend.”

It is amusing to imagine what Tolkien, who died in 1973, would think of all this. The learned scholar was an Oxford Inkling and all round middle-Englander. Frankly, it's lucky that the pious Tolkien, a staunch opponent of fascism, did not live to see Burzum; the name nowadays doesn't quite conjure up Tolkien's crafted language Black Speech (the language of Mordor) but the black metal project of a church-burning neo-nazi. To add insult to grave-turning injury, Varg has also been dubbed Grishnákh, the fictional leader of Tokien's Mordor orcs.

The good news at least is that the influential author's magnum opus has creatively stimulated a wide variety of differing metal artists that may be more pleasing to Tolkien's political sensibilities, if not his eardrums. And some of these also happen to be top-billing bands at Bloodstock Open Air 2014.

Amon Amarth

These melodic death diehards have taken their name straight from 'The Lord Of The Rings', as Amon Amarth or “mountain of fate” is an alternative name for Mount Doom in Tolkien's invented language Sindarin – and a fantastically evil title it is. The band themselves prefer to write songs about vikings, Loki and Odin more than hobbits, Gandalf and Saruman however, but they join a large tradition of metal bands who have named themselves straight from Tolkien's legendarium. FängörN recalls the home of the Ents, Gorgoroth is a region of northwestern Mordor, Minas Morgul is the sad sound of a twin city that fell to Sauron, while Darkthrone's name has been revealed to be based upon the Dark Throne of Morgoth in The Silmarillion


Straight after Amon Amarth are Sunday's bill toppers and Thrash favourites Megadeth. Does this song sound familiar for some reason?

'This Day We Fight!' is a direct reference to Aragorn's speech at the Battle of Morannon; OK, so one created by Peter Jackson and Co in the definitive film adaptation, but still. Many, many other metal bands have dedicated songs to Tolkien's lore, including Cruachan and Orange Goblin, while some, like Megadave, have written tracks loosely inspired by the legendarium: Uriah Heep's 'The Wizard' and Nightwish's 'Wishmaster' to name a few.


The original founder and vocalist of the tech-death metallers Decapitated, Wojciech W?sowicz, goes by the name of 'Sauron'. While it's a shame that the departure of 'Sauron' lead to the band losing its imagery somewhat of an evil dark lord bent upon dominion, they won't have lost their musical savagery when the storm the main stage Saturday.

Dimmu Borgir

Named after the orc commander of Cirith Ungol, Shagrath, the lead vocalist of Dimmu Borgir chose the name twenty years ago and likes to moan that the success of Peter Jackson's film trilogy years later was a blow to his hipster credentials. “Fortunately [the name] didn't get that much attention in the movie, so it all turned out OK,” he admits. Lucky that, when you already have 'Shagrath' tattooed across your stomach.

Flotsam and Jetsam

These Arizonian thrash metallers don't sound like they're the Tolkien-types, but think harder. Flotsam and Jetsam are actually named after the 9th chapter of the third book in The Two Towers of the same name. The more you know...

Want to know about more Tolkien-inspired metal acts? See here, and watch the video below.

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 tickets are still available, priced at £130 (plus £7 booking fee) for a full weekend (four nights), with child tickets available at a reduced rate for those aged 11 and under, priced at £35 plus a £4 booking fee.

Click here to buy Bloodstock Open Air tickets.


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