Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Top Five Songs About Vikings

The BBC adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom is currently causing me a bit of a crisis of loyalty: should I cheer for the pagans or the English?

Well both, obviously.

Meanwhile, how about a list of Viking themed music. 

(Click on the title to listen to the song).

5. Horrible Histories Literally

Who better to start us off than the best thing to ever come from CBBC: Horrible Histories?

There is of course some real history here, but far more fun is counting the rock and pop references in the Queen-meets-Lordi video.

4. Leave's Eyes Sign of the Dragonhead

Of course you couldn't do a list like this without including some real Vikings. Viking Rock is a major genre in Scandinavia. Some of it is so heavy you need special ears to listen to it, and some has so many folk elements you think you're listening to a Spinal Tap parody.

That still leaves plenty of decent stuff though, and Norwegian-German group Leave's Eyes has been knocking out decent songs more than a decade, as well as keeping Viking reenactors busy in their videos. Founder member and front woman Liv Kristine recently left, casuing a crisis amongst their friends. However her replacement by Finnish born, but British based, soprano Elina Siirala was certainly all right by me. Siirala had been fronting her own band Enkelination since 2011, and they were pretty good. However with Leave's Eyes behind her she done even better.

3. Iron Maiden Invaders 

Power Metal may be alive and well and living in Scandinavia, but it has it's roots in this country.

When punk started to falter in the late seventies, a deluge of bands collectively known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal arrived. Working Class and utterly introverted, Iron Maiden were one of the few bands who escaped this sub-culture and made it megabig.

They were fond of songs about history, and this one is from 1982's breakthrough The Number of the Beast album.

2. The Darkness Barbarian

If there is any band today that channels that spirit of eighties rock excess it is Norfolk's The Darkness.

Hailing from a part of England well and truly trashed by the Vikings, lead singer Justin Hawkins has now stopped getting trashed himself and the band have survived the curse of the Christmas single to become the sort of really together rock outfit they should have been ten years ago. 

1. Led Zeppelin Immigrant Song

But before all of the above got into the act Robert Plant was singing about Vikings on 1970's Led Zeppelin III.

The title is ironic, given the racial problems of 70s Britain, and even more ironically the word 'immigrant' is itself an immigrant, having popped across The Channel from France to steal the job of an Old English word. The real Anglo-Saxons would have referred to the Norsemen - when they were being polite - as ingangers

Anyway, Last Kingdom is on again on Thursday, so we can find out how Alfred deals with the ingangers, but it has a rubbish soundtrack compared to these songs. BBC please take note.

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