10 heavy metal bands that wouldn’t be the same without Dune

Photos of Iron Maiden and Tool performing live, plus the front cover of Frank Herbert’s Dune
(Image credit: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images | Hodderscape | Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

With its heady mix of drug-tinged psychedelia, politics, violence and spiritualism, Frank Herbert’s cerebral sci-fi epic Dune has always been ripe for a bit of metallic interpretation. The various books and adaptations have spread their tendrils into other genres (particularly the trippier side of dance music and electronica) but it’s the heavy stuff that has really taken the saga to heart.

Lesser-known bands like Sandrider, Wormsand and Necropanther have all drawn heavily on Herbert’s works, while plenty of more recognisable names have written songs about, or otherwise referenced, their love of the seminal series. So, with the second installment of Denis Villeneuve’s movie reboot looming like a giant sandworm, here are 10 metal bands who have taken inspiration from Dune

Metal Hammer line break

Iron Maiden

Steve Harris has always had a penchant for literary-inspired lyrics, and Piece Of Mind closer To Tame A Land is undoubtedly the most prominent metal song about Dune. While Iron Maiden were fans of Frank Herbert, however, the admiration wasn’t reciprocated. The track was originally to be titled Dune but the author refused to grant permission because he didn’t like their music and, according to Bruce Dickinson, “threatened to have the album banned”.


Tool have referenced Dune’s iconic ‘Litany Against Fear’, although, as you might expect, they were rather oblique about it. The song Litanie Contre La Peur from 2019’s Fear Inoculum translates directly as ‘Litany Against Fear’. Talking about Fear Inoculum’s title, guitarist Adam Jones told Revolver: “It’s making those choices that are important to you and moving on and growing. There’s a little bit of Frank Herbert's Dune in that, so I’m into it.”

Blind Guardian

Like Iron Maiden, power metal veterans Blind Guardian frequently use books for inspiration. However, the Germans exhibit a particular leaning towards fantasy and mythology rather than history. They also dip into the realms of science fiction, with Traveler In Time (from their 1990 album, Tales From The Twilight World) based explicitly on Dune, particularly protagonist Paul Atreides.


A story featuring a psychotropic drug that changes the user’s perception and allows them to navigate vast interstellar gulfs? It’s no wonder stoner metal godheads Sleep folded Dune into their music and artwork. “That cover is totally inspired by Dune,” artist Arik Roper said of seminal album Dopesmoker, while the latter-day track Giza Butler features skewed references to both Black Sabbath and Herbert. Guitarist Matt Pike added: “We used to get stoned and read all these crazy sci-fi books. Dune was definitely one of them. That stuff about the drug was up our street.”

Fear Factory

Fear Factory have always been influenced by sci-fi, even if it was often the man vs. machine themes of Terminator and Blade Runner rather than the ecological and semi-spiritual sweep of Dune. 1993 EP Fear Is The Mindkiller took its name from the above-mentioned ‘Litany Against Fear’, however, which is repeated by various characters. They also inserted part of the spoken-word mantra into 2022’s Recoded (Recode Remix).

Shai Hulud

Metalcore luminaries Shai Hulud took their name from the Fremen’s name for the giant sandworms of Arrakis. “I thought using something from Dune would give the band automatic depth and set us apart from the pack,” guitarist and long-time Dune fan Matt Fox told Ear Nutrition. “Originally, I wanted to call the band ‘Harkonnen’ after Baron Vladmir Harkonnen […] However, that was turned down by our original bass player because he felt it sounded too much like the word ‘Hardcore’.”


Edinburgh’s emerging sludge/post-metal purveyors Dvne are one of a number of bands wearing their love of Frank Herbert’s mythos on their sleeves. They were originally called Dune, in fact, and the books were something the quintet first bonded over. Singer/guitarist Victor Vicart told CMGM Rock Radio: “For us [it was] the mix of sci-fi with a bit of magic or the mystical in some ways along with finding the universe beautiful.”

Diamond Head 

Diamond Head’s most recent studio album, 2019’s The Coffin Train, featured a track called The Sleeper, which was accompanied by a cinematic and decidedly Dune-esque video.  “The song and lyrics were inspired by David Lynch’s movie Dune from 1984 and is one of [vocalist] Ras’ favourite sci-fi movies from his childhood,” the band explained.


Industrial rockers Deadsy are another band who’ve shown love for Lynch’s oft-maligned 80s adaptation of Dune, having covered the opening theme, originally composed by Brian Eno, as an intro for their live performances. The song The Elements, from their 1997 eponymous debut album, also references the ’84 movie with lines like, ‘Through the mind we flee to space / As the shadows choose the place / Though afraid, my sleeper must awake.’

Star One

This Dutch prog metal supergroup are all about the sci-fi. Unlike founder Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon, though, they explore existing works rather than inhabiting an original fictional universe. Aptly-titled debut album Space Metal drew on everything from Oscar-winning epic 2001: A Space Odyssey to the rather low-budget British TV classic Blake’s Seven. And there was also a Dune song, of course, with Sandrider flying the flag for Frank Herbert’s creation.

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer