My soundtrack for historical fiction writing – number 6 is BRUTAL (but 10 is beautiful)!

A few years ago I wrote a guest post for fellow author Roz Morris, where I listed a few of the songs I like to listen to while writing my books. It was mostly just death and black metal with a bit of Jethro Tull, so I thought I would do an updated version featuring some of the bands that helped me write Lucia and The Druid. Yes, I know my time would be better spent working on the next book but it’s hard to do that when there’s a 5-year-old behind me watching SuperZings videos on Youtube and saying “Dad” every ten seconds.

Before I start listing songs, I should say I’m a guitarist, and I can play a tiny bit of mandolin, flute, drums, bass, and sing a little too. I am pretty fanatical about music, I just love it, which is one reason why I own about a dozen electric guitars. This is relevant, because it means I can’t write to music with a cool melody, big singalong chorus, or a funky beat – in my study I’m surrounded by guitars and my Marshall amp literally sits beside my writing desk, so, if a song filled with hooks comes on – say, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard, or “More Than A Feeling” by Boston, I’ll want to pick up the Ibanez, Gibson or Jackson guitar next to me and jam along. I can’t help it.

None more black. I should really be endorsed by Jackson – this is only the tip of the (blackened) iceberg!

What I need while writing, or even reading, a book, is almost a white noise effect. Something with little melody, drumming that’s too crazy to tap your feet along to, and vocals that don’t make you want to do your best Freddie Mercury impression. And that means PROG ROCK, so here’s some YES, Genesis and Camel videos for you all!

Nah, not really, I’m talking, of course, about black metal. Most music fans think black metal is just noise, and they’d be right, pretty much. That’s why it’s perfect to write to. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of this music, there IS melody, there is a huge amount of skill involved in playing and writing this stuff, and some of it is quite beautiful. But if I concentrate on my writing, and tune out the background noise, these songs are inspiring to me, and just perfect for my creativity to bloom.

This blog post is simply a bit of fun – I expect 99% of people who stumble across it will ignore it, or, if they DO click one of the songs, turn it off within the first ten seconds and leave my site thinking I’m a weirdo. That’s cool. I listen to loads of bands, from folk rock like Tull and Fairport Convention, very occasionally pop along the lines of ABBA and Madonna, techno by The Shamen or The Time Frequency (great old Scottish dance band there!), rock with Dire Straits and Rush, and various forms of metal with Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Pantera, WASP etc being favourites. But this is about the music I listen to while writing.

It would be cool if you gave each song a good listen, or even added some of the albums to your playlists on Amazon Music, Spotify or whatever and tried playing them while you read your current book.  It’s not all heavy, all the time – some of them have soft acoustic guitar parts, even flutes and occasionally clean vocals instead of screaming. The likes of Enslaved are clearly inspired by Viking culture, as a lot of this genre is nowadays.

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Inpsired by batshit crazy black metal

So – on with the songs! I won’t really explain why I like a particular track because it’s pointless in regards to this. I normally put on a whole album, or even a whole discography by these bands and get down to writing. These here are just some of my favourite tracks by each band. The Winterfylleth tracks are NOT black metal, although they are a black metal band – it’s an all acoustic folk type album they did and might be of more interest to most of you than the screaming and blastbeats.

DISCLAIMER – many black metal bands have/had some batshit crazy ideologies, I don’t follow any of them, I just like the music. Also, sorry about the clickbait title of this post lol

Akercocke – not really black metal but I write a LOT to these guys, they’re like prog-rock turned up to eleven. On speed.

Behemoth. All of my books have been written while listening to loads of Behemoth, particularly their really early, true black metal stuff. My favourite extreme metal band.

This Winterfylleth album is great for writing AND sending you off to sleep.


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