The Black Dahlia Murder and D&D: An Interview

Death metal band, The Black Dahlia Murder, is bringing Dungeons & Dragons to their ninth studio album, Verminous. To promote their latest album, they commissioned Dungeonpunx to craft the Depths of Drasted RPG Box Set based on their title track and cover art. Available as a limited edition boxed set with dice, DM screen, and more, or as a standalone adventure for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, it was innovative enough that Darryl Mott covered it. I was able to get an interview with Trevor Strnad, lead vocalist of The Black Dahlia Murder, about D&D, what song Rifts informed, and why they chose to create an RPG adventure.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Your ninth album, Verminous, drops today. To promote it, you’re offering a limited edition boxed set featuring the CD, a 24-page adventure for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, a DM’s screen, dice, maps, and more. Of all the promotions you could choose, why a D&D adventure and box set?
TREVOR STRNAD (TS)
: We’ve flirted with doing a dice set and dungeon master’s screen combo for a few albums now. It wasn’t until Verminous that we decided to take the full leap and have a one-off adventure custom made. I played a lot of D&D in my formative years and I feel like it’s imagery led me to discovering metal music… the similarities were there. I think in the metal scene in particular there is a lot of crossover. We wanted to do something unique that would excite fans and bring another dimension of fandom to the release. It’s really taken on a life of its own!

EGG: The adventure is “based off the title track and album cover”. Did you know “Verminous” would be a dungeon crawl before you wrote it?
TS
: No sir, I had no idea. I approached it like any other album… just writing what I felt to write on a song by song basis. I do think that this particular album cover does lend itself to the roleplaying world quite nicely and there are a couple of songs on the album sharing subterranean and rat filled themes that might help set the stage.

EGG: Are the members of The Black Dahlia Murder tabletop gamers?
TS
: No sir, although I am scheduled to come out of D&D retirement soon. I haven’t played since the TSR days. 2nd Edition was my jam. I also used to play Rifts with my high school friends. An image from a Rifts book actually informed one of the song topics for the album (“Removal Of The Oaken Stake”) in which a vampire regenerates back to life after having the stake pulled from his skeleton. I have deeply missed roleplaying.

EGG: Meet-and-greets are a great way for fans to shake hands with their favorite bands. Likewise, at tabletop RPG conventions, there’s a chance for gamers to play a session with their favorite game designers. Do you foresee a day where TBDM does a meet-and-greet-and-game?
TS
: Well, what I meant about coming out of retirement is that Brian Eschbach (guitar) and I are being flown out to California to play our dungeon, Depths of Drasted, one-off live on a podcast with some fans which is going to be really fun. It’s going to be videoed and edited into a segment. I’m sure it’ll be entertaining.

EGG: I’m looking forward to checking that out! The CD and RPG boxed set sold out quickly. Are there any plans to offer the adventure in another format?
TS
: We printed two different runs of 500 with dice and the DM screen, but logistics and time constraints wouldn’t allow us to do any more with those items and be able to deliver them to the fans by street date, so we made a more stripped down version with just the adventure booklet and character sheets. We were a little bummed with the compromise but at least more people are able to get the one-off.
TBDM - Verminous - RPGbundle_1800x1800.jpg
EGG: Verminous is just coming out and your focus is doubtlessly on bring that album to your fans, but do you feel that you’ll create more RPG tie-ins like the Depths of Drasted?
TS
: This has been coming up a lot already. It’s hard to say! I don’t know what the future will hold for TBDM and roleplaying.

EGG: Thank you for talking with me about this. I’m looking forward to Verminous and, I hope, getting to play Depths of Drasted. You’re headed out on tour, correct? I hope to see you when you swing through Atlanta.
TS
: Yessir! I’d like that too! Thanks for having me!

The Black Dahlia Murder’s new album, Verminous, comes out today from Metal Blade Records. Order the album, the RPG adventure, and other merchandise from Night Shift Merchandise. You can follow The Black Dahlia Murder online at their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Special thanks to Nikki Law, Head of Publicity at Metal Blade Records, for making this interview happen.
 

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry


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The band Blind Guardian is all about fantasy fiction. And some of them played Der Schwarze Auge back in the 80's. This interview from 2002 lays it out there. Maybe they've played again since then, but couldn't find any record of it.

Never listened to them but heard of them. Think Iced Earth & Demons and Wizards are in the same genre, Power Metal? Not my thing, too campy for my tastes. Old Dio is where I draw the line, and even then thats only when me and my friends are drunk at one in the morning. What the hell is a holy diver anyhow?
 





GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Some may argue that Led Zeppelin isn't heavy metal. So many hard rock and prog rock bands from the 70's had themes that dovetailed into the themes Fantasy fiction - mostly informed by LotR; as opposed to say, Elric or Vance.

But those themes of loss of a golden past; merciless, colossal and powerful enemies and monsters; destruction, magic and chaos - all of those fed into the zeitgeist from which metal arose.


. . .I would go so far as to say Metal was directly informed by Fantasy fiction. Without fantasy, I am not sure metal would be, well, METAL.
I've heard people refer to Zeppelin as heavy metal, and I'm sure that back in Zeppelin's day they were the heaviest stuff around. So it is, oddly, accurate.

I can also see how the lyrics/musicians that founded metal were medi-fantasy inspired. That's not enough for me to want to associate the two.

Regardless, I gave Verminous a listen on Youtube and I can officially pronounce: fun! Wouldn't mind a look at the adventure, either.
 

Tilenas

Explorer
I would actually love to see a band that really committed to an old-school D&D meets old-school metal aesthetic.

There is one band that does just that: They are called Gygax and are very much Thin-Lizzy-inspired. Their three albums so far are - aptly - titled Critical Hits, Second Edition, and High Fantasy.

Naturally, the album covers all scream "D&D":

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You can check out their music on bandcamp: GYGAX
 


Zarithar

Adventurer
As far as fantasy inspired metal goes - it doesn't get any better (or worse depending on your tastes/perspective) than Dragonforce. Their latest album even features a Skyrim track. Dragons, warriors, wizards etc can be found in most of their tunes.
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Some may argue that Led Zeppelin isn't heavy metal. So many hard rock and prog rock bands from the 70's had themes that dovetailed into the themes Fantasy fiction - mostly informed by LotR; as opposed to say, Elric or Vance.
Blue Oyster Cult - veteran of the psychic wars (inspiration of/by? D&D psionics), Black Blade (Elric of Melnibone the Song) - - Actually both lyrics by Michael Moorcock.
 





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