Litany – “Niobe”

Greek mythology is replete with cautionary tales of the consequences of hubris, that tendency of exceptional humans to push the bounds of the natural order and transgress upon the prerogatives of a pantheon of jealous gods and goddesses. It is inherent in a human condition caught between the bestial and the divine: what is the […]

Venus Victrix – “The Oath of Lucretia”

For heroines in Greek mythology, things don’t often end well. The case is similar for their counterparts in Roman mythology, which the Romans patriotically took as the historical foundations of their people, city, and their free republic. Several important stages in the evolution of the Roman state were catalyzed by various women’s sexual violation: Romulus’ […]

Swallowed Whole – “Domitian”

When given the terms “megalomaniac” and “Roman emperor,” most people today can name Nero and Caligula, and perhaps Commodus thanks to “Gladiator.” But the Romans themselves in their later history often included one more in their canonical lists of exemplary tyrants. That was Titus Flavius Domitianus, known to us as Domitian. While not possessing the […]

Obsidian Sea – “The Trial of Herostratus”

Of the canonical Seven Wonders of the ancient world, three are clustered around the western coast of Asia Minor, a rich area of heavy Greek colonization and intermingling with the various native Anatolian cultures. One of these three wonders is a testament to this exchange, the massive, Ionic order temple at Ephesus of the Greek […]

Monasterium – “Ferrier of the Underworld”

Church of Bones is the sophomore album from the Polish epic doom metal band Monasterium. While their self-titled debut album tipped its hat to classical antiquity with their song “In Hoc Signo Vinces” on the emperor Constantine (a future post!), on this new LP they dive into the underworld of Greek mythology, to pay the […]

DoomSword – “Gergovia”

For much of the decade of the 50s BCE, Julius Caesar extended Roman dominion over the fields and forests of Gaul (roughly modern-day France). He did so not only through superior discipline, tactics, and logistics of the Roman legions, but also through a careful strategy of divide-and-conquer, taking advantage of the political disunity of the […]

Dautha – “Maximinus Thrax”

Roman emperors, as paragons of both glorious conquerors and vicious tyrants, are among the most popular lyrical subjects of classical reception in metal. Songs dedicated to the likes of Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and other of the most famous and infamous imperatores will get plenty of airtime on this page. Dautha play Swedish epic doom metal. […]

Lord Vicar – “The Spartan”

“Many have sung about the Gates of Fire.” Indeed, the story of King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans is one of the most iconic episodes in the history of ancient Greece, and it is especially popular among metal bands who take on classical themes. The Manilla Road album “Gates of Fire”, for instance, takes its […]

Crypt Sermon – “Byzantium”

Byzantium was originally a Greek colony founded by a man named Byzas back in 657 BCE. It was established on a peninsula protected on three sides by water, and it guarded the passage between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. Whoever controlled Byzantium was well on their way to controlling lucrative and vital trade routes, […]

Trouble – “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Most foundational elements of metal music can be found in the rock n’ roll music that preceded its birth in the early 1970’s. This also includes classical reception. In 1967, Eric Clapton and his band Cream released “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” inspired by the epic wanderings of Odysseus (Ulysses to the Romans) as told in […]