Eddie Munson, Hawkins’ greatest DM in the Netflix original series Stranger Things
In recent years, shows like Game of Thrones and Stranger Things have broken through into the mainstream public consciousness. With the popularity of these shows there has also come a rise in popularity of games like Dungeons and Dragons, especially with it being a central theme in Stranger Things.
At time of writing this, Stranger Things has brought a new wave of popularity to classic thrash metal jam Master of Puppets by Metallica. If you are even mildly aware of Stranger Things and its season 5 outcast hero, Eddie Munson, you probably know that Master of Puppets was blasted during a crucial moment in the show and in turn bringing this classic tune to the ears of a new generation.
I’d imagine a lot of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns over the last couple of years has had Master of Puppets included in its soundtrack. I’d honestly be surprised if that wasn’t the case. While that is fantastic, for me personally, I like my D&D tunes to be a little bit more thematically appropriate. So, this list will highlight bands who have dedicated their music to specific shows, games, and other IPs in the fantasy genre to help you spice up your next D&D session.
Originally formed as Kingdoms of Flesh, Soulmass is a two-man death-doom band from Florida. Proclaiming themselves as “Eldritch Death Doom”, this band began centering their theme around the incredible Souls games by FromSoftware, mostly focusing on Dark Souls. As the band has grown and expanded, so has the themes of their music. More recently, their tunes have included themes from games like Bloodborne, Armored Core, and even some UC-era Mobile Suit Gundam which I have found really exciting. I highly recommend them if you enjoy more of the dark side of the fantasy genre.
Musically, I personally feel that death-doom is a great way to describe the band. But, the more I listen to them, I definitely hear some Black Metal influences creeping into the mix. Admittedly, I haven’t explored their newer tunes much yet but I have added them to my 2024 playlist and am actively exploring their entire discography. I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for this band and hope some touring is included in their plans.
Keys of Orthanc
If you explore the history of Black Metal, you will notice a lot of themes pulled from the works fo JRR Tolkien. There are countless bands named from elements of The Lord of the Rings or even band members taking their pseudonyms from characters from the stories. But, while the influence from Lord of the Rings is clearly there, it doesn’t often show itself in the music clearly.
That’s where the Canadian Black Metal band Keys of Orthanc come into play. While the background of this band is a bit of a mystery the band wears their influences on their sleeve. The name of the band itself is a reference to Sauruman’s tower in the Lord of the Rings, their artwork is inspired by key moments of the story, and the songs themselve are themed around elements and moments from the story.
Musically, the band brings a ton of atmosphere to their songs and break away from the direct Black Metal style with synths and ambient soundscapes. It’s super cool and lends itself to bringing an immersive experience to The Lord of the Rings story. Other than just jamming the band regularly, I’ve definitely added some of their songs to my campaign soundtracks.
Mouth of Sauron
Still located in the lands of Middle-Earth but on a more punishing side of the metal spectrum comes Mouth of Sauron. The band is a two-piece from multiple locations across the US and brandishes a style that lives in the technical/brutal sides of Death Metal. I don’t know much about the specifics of the band but I love their style. It’s not often you hear a Death Metal band leaning away from the more horrific themes that come with the genre and more into the nerdy side of things, which I think is fantastic.
At time of writing this, the band has released several singles, an EP, and one full-length. They haven’t had much activity through the pandemic but I’m hoping to hear more from them as the world finds itself opening up more.
If you’ve been a fan of Death Metal for a decent amount of time, more than likely you have heard of Bolt Thrower. They are an absolute staple of the genre. But, one thing you might not have known is that their entire band is centered around the lore and gameplay of the original version of the TTRPG Warhammer (aka Warhammer Fantasy Battles). The name Bolt Thrower itself comes from a weapon in the game. The artwork for several of their albums even comes from the game itself, which is really cool.
While I know very little about Warhammer (I find it interesting but I just cannot let my obsessive personality get into something with such deep lore and need for space for miniatures to play the game) I have definitely been known to throw on some Bolt Thrower when I’m in a Death Metal mood.
Reverse the Hollowing
Reverse the Hollowing is one of those gems that came out of the metal side of TikTok. If you spend any time on the app and listen to metal music, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have seen the band’s guitar player, Josh Rezz (@joshrezz), doing guitar playthroughs and learning challenges on his lives.
This band falls into more of a modern hard rock genre that pulls elements from progressive metal (djent) and Deathcore. I admit that I haven’t spent much time with the band’s music but I’ve liked what I heard. This style just isn’t something I frequently listen to in this chapter of my life but what I’ve heard I like. But, on the surface level, I greatly appreciate a band that names itself after a key mechanic in the Dark Souls games, has awesome artwork inspired by the games, and even throws some of those themes into the music itself. Definitely something I plan to spend more time with in 2024.
At time of writing this the band has released a handful of singles over the last 3 years and I definitely recommend checking them out.