In most peoples' hobby kits there's knives, files, green stuff, paint, brushes, pliers... but one of the most important hobby "tools" that I can't find in my tackle box, and one which I use every single day, is my radio. In fact, I couldn't imagine starting my work day, or hobby time for that matter, without flipping on some tunes. So, this week I'd like to put the models aside that I've been working on and talk about what I've been listening to, and maybe hear back from you, and see what motivates you while putting paint on plastic (or pewter or resin).
I'm a 21st century man, so my radio is actually my laptop computer which I hook up to a pair of old MCS 24" speakers and stream either Pandora or news radio.
Usually the first thing I turn on in the morning is NPR and listen to Morning Edition to get the day's scoop and so I can feel worldly. Throughout the day I'll check back with NPR and listen to All Things Considered, Here and Now, and This American Life, and even listen to the BBC's World Service, but after the morning news it's time for something to put me in the fantasy mood...
Fantasy metal is by far, my most favorite thing to listen to while hobbying. My obsession started on a Wednesday night game night over at my buddy Justin's, when he turned on Type-O Negative, Amon Amarth, Manowar, and Rhapsody of Fire. I had grown up with with rock and metal bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden, but never realized there was a whole genre of music dedicated to fantasy themes. I was hooked.
There's almost as many fantasy metal bands, with differing sounds and subject matters, for each and every fantasy lover, and that's really what I enjoy about the music. No two bands sound or feel the same.
One of my early favorites was Kamelot, who has a classic 80's hair metal feel and uses strong lyrical references to classic fantasy themes which they tie together with fantastic instrumentals and melodious vocals. Tons of Kamelot songs jump out at me as truly great, like: Wander, Blucher, The Fourth Legacy, Karma, Center of the Universe, Farewell, Across the Highlands, and Wings of Despair.
Blind Guardian is another band that seems to transport the listener back in time to when music was a bit more gritty. Guardian's lead singer has a haunting tinge to his voice that perfectly complements the age old themes in their songs and is backed up by sharp guitar riffs and instrumental solos. I highly recommend: Otherland, Lionheart, Skalds and Shadows, Mirror Mirror, and Mordred's Song.
Another band I would consider as a 'Classic' fantasy metal band is Dark Moor. Like the two previous, Dark Moor's sound is shared equally by compelling vocals and enrapturing instrumental accompaniment. A strong, albeit somewhat effeminate, lead vocalist sings along with the tinny ring a mandolin and lyre and rises above the pounding of deep guitar riffs. Some of their favorites are: Before the Duel, Nevermore, Maid of Orleans, Starsmaker (Elbereth), and Hand in Hand.
If you like pirates, you've gotta listen to Alestorm! With a uniquely "piratey" sound, due to the use of an accordion or ketar, Alestorm is characterized by fast-paced feel good lyrics and instrumentals. It's impossible to listen to them without a smile on your face. Check out their songs: Wenches and Mead, Huntmaster, Captain Morgan's Revenge, Terror on the High Seas, and The Sunk'n Norwegian.
There's a ton of great other bands and songs out there and not time to feature them all! Here's a quick rundown of songs that you have to hear: Manowar's Sons of Odin, Falconer's Lord of the Blacksmith's, Korpiklaani's Pine Woods, Hammerfall's Let the Hammer Fall, Sonata Arctica's Don't Say a Word, and Turisas's To Holmgard and Beyond.
These are some of the songs that fuel my hobby, so, what fuels yours?