This past Sunday Bring Me The Horizon released a new song called True Friends. So far so normal, but the chorus line comes from Oscar Wilde which is something we didn’t expect from the Sheffield heavies. And it got us thinking. What other metal bands have taken inspiration from the legendary poet? Well here’s a handful…
**MOONSPELL – Capricorn At Her Feet (The Antidote, 2003) **A transcendent highlight of arguably the Portuguese gothic metal veterans’ finest album – a concept platter based on a simultaneously-released novel – the whispered last lines of this darkly poetic gem are taken from the opening lines of Wilde’s graveside elegy to his dead sister, Requiescat (Latin for May She Rest): “Tread lightly, she is near/Under the snow/Speak gently, she can hear” although Moonspell change Wilde’s next line “The daisies grow” to “Your fears grow.”
**SKYCLAD – Deja Vu Ain’t What It Used To Be (Folkemon, 2000) **This song by the UK folk metal pioneers takes a typically wry look at the concept of misfortune, incorporating all of Wilde’s unpublished student verse (variously titled Tristitiae, A Lament or Cry Woe, Woe And Let The Good Prevail), the earnest solemnity contrasting with the Nigel Rees Book Of Humorous Graffiti-style title. Meanwhile, the song’s direct riff and screaming solo remind us that two members of Skyclad cut their teeth in bloodthirsty NWOBHM stalwarts Satan.
**EDENBRIDGE – The Canterville Ghost (Shine, 2004) **Feasibly an influence on King Diamond’s arch gothic horror concept albums, Wilde’s blackly comical 1887 haunted house short story – his first published work of prose fiction – was neatly summarised by the Austrian symphonic metallers in this bouncy, poodle-soft, cod-operatic pomp epic. Edenbridge were evidently committed to telling the tale properly; the song is preceded by a separate intro entitled The Canterville Prophecy.
**DEMONS & WIZARDS – Dorian (Touched By The Crimson King, 2005) **An artful retelling of Wilde’s controversial (in 1890) sole novel The Picture Of Dorian Gray, the philosophical Gothic classic about a man who sells his soul for eternal beauty and embarks on a life of cruelty, sex and drug abuse while his portrait becomes raddled and disfigured. Perfect metal subject matter, deftly delivered with the imploring high-notes of Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kursch and the staccato bludgeon of Iced Earth axeman Jon Schaffer.
LORD VAMPYR – Morgana (De Vampyrica Philosophia, 2005) Opening with lines of lovelorn intensity from Wilde’s 1881 poem Quia Multum Amavi (“The young impassioned priest… Feels not such awful wonder as I felt, When first my smitten eyes beat full on thee”), such heretical romanticism is textbook grist to the mill for the ex-Theatre Des Vampires frontman. His own lyrics aren’t nearly so poetic: “Oh your white neck, your veins I’m awaiting, my thirst is great, Oh your hot blood on my mouth…” Best stick with Oscar, eh LV?
STORMWITCH – Salome (Witchcraft, 2004) Veteran German headbangers Stormwitch don’t quote Wilde, favouring their own lyrical prowess in lines like “I love John the Baptist but he don’t look at me”, but their take on the Biblical tale of Herod’s murderous dancing daughter owes much to Wilde’s eroticised interpretation in his 1891 play Salomé. Emphasising the character’s sexual power, and adding the detail of Salome’s erotic Dance Of The Seven Veils, Stormwitch here echo Richard Strauss’ operatic version.
SALTATIO MORTIS – Nachtigall Und Rose (Sturm Aufs Paradies, 2011) A German medieval metal retelling of Wilde’s downbeat fairy tale The Nightingale And The Rose (1888), it’s hard for non-German speakers to ascertain how close the lyrics are to Wilde’s prose, but the slideshow on the YouTube link certainly makes the mind boggle (especially the last frame). The original has a hilariously unpoetic moral for a child’s fable: “What a silly thing Love is… It is not half as useful as Logic, for it does not prove anything…. I shall go back to Philosophy and study Metaphysics.”
ALKATEYA – Feeling (Lycanthropy, 2006) Debuting in 1986 with a demo tape boasting a homemade pencil-drawn sleeve of a werewolf playing a guitar, Portuguese metal scene pioneers Alkateya finally got an LP out 20 years later, when they became another band to plunder the poetic works of Wilde. The singer portentously orates his 1881 religious ode The True Knowledge, extending the song’s theme of a quizzical one-way conversation with God.
COMPANY OF THIEVES – Oscar Wilde (Ordinary Rices, 2009) Okay they’re far from being a metal band, but Illinois indie trio Company Of Thieves have a hazy, melancholic surge that bears comparison with non-metal metal fan favourites The Gathering, plus a touch of the undistorted, chilled-out retro rock of Jess And The Ancient Ones. Also, the song is actually called Oscar Wilde, so it’s a jangly no-brainer in an Oscar Wilde-themed playlist. The context of the title isn’t 100% clear, but we feel Oscar would approve; after all, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.