Avalon Calling: The Arthurian Myth In Pop, Goth And Metal

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Rocks Off got a press release the other day extolling the upcoming sixth studio album by metal band Anaal Nathrakh. We had no idea what the hell it was, and thought it was one of those weirdly-spelled porn spams we seem to get so much.

Luckily, our editor knew that "Anaal Nathrakh" was the first two words in Merlin's Charm of Making from the movie Excalibur. In the film, Merlin uses the charm to turn King Arthur's dad, Uther Pendragon, into the likeness of the Duke of Cornwall, with whose wife he wanted to make two and a half minutes of squishy noises.

The charm itself... is pretty much just gibberish based on Old Irish. If you really work at it, according to linguist Michael Everson, it translates as:

Serpent's breath

Charm of death and life

Thy omen of making.

That's if you follow the script, although the phonetics they use in the film are as bad as a Klingon speaker tackling Tolkien's Elvish. Wow... there may not be a single person reading this that would believe at this point that we've ever had the tiniest bit of sex.

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The immortal tale of King Arthur has fascinated us since we were little, after we got our hands on a VHS of a cartoon called Young King Arthur. This show has, as far as we can tell, has gone to pop-culture heaven and no longer exists. The legend combines all the greatest aspects of adventure and romance, so it's no surprise that the mythology has contributed greatly to modern song.

There have been a lot. Two award-winning Broadway musicals, Camelot and Monty Python's Spamalot have been based on King Arthur. Hard rocker Gary Hughes dedicated two whole albums, The Once and Future King Pts. I and II, to Arthur.

One of our favorite tributes is Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson's song "Return of the King" from his 1998 solo album The Chemical Wedding. The song deals with one of the most potent and enduring aspects of Arthur's kingship; namely, that he is destined to return to rule England in its darkest hour.

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Paul Fredric
Paul Fredric

Wow, Anaal Nathrakh actually really rocks! Of course if you named your band that around here, people have a good laugh about the name - "Anal" et al. That's not a dig on the band, it's a dig on people. But seriously I'm grooving with your vibe on Excalibur - if there is a film I've watched half as many times as Star Wars it's Excalibur. I watched it so many times as a teenager my mom eventually bought me that Mists of Avalon book which I read maybe a quarter of before realizing it was really just propaganda for the Women's Suffrage Movement. Any genderal confusion this might have generated for me was apparently thwarted by that classic Helen Miren nude seen of which my brethern Classic Rock Bob hath bespoken.


Anaal Nathrakh is great... one of the most brutal sounding bands!

The definitive King Arthur metal song is "The Once and Future King" by Blind Guardian.

Classic Rock Bob
Classic Rock Bob

"Excalibur" was one of my favorite movies growing up, repeated endless times on early HBO when they had about 20 films in their library. I memorized The Charm of Making in order to try and impress girls in junior high. It didn't work, but at least I got to see some then-young Helen Mirren boobs in the movie. Also look for Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, and a very young Liam Neeson in roles as knights!

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