When it comes to our musical preferences, we pretend that we value artistic integrity, strong musicianship, and meaningful lyrics above all else. But in truth we often fall for a good gimmick. Whether it's a made-up back-story, bizarre characters for each band member, or strange inspirations for lyrics, it's easy to dig a good gimmick band.
And metal has perhaps more gimmicks than any other genre. In fact, some of the best and most unusual of these bands are coming through town in the coming months, including Alestorm, The Iron Maidens, Powerglove, Brujeria, and GWAR. The details of the shows are below.
But, the question remains: Who are the top ten gimmick bands? Read on.
10. The County Medical Examiners
The story goes like this: Three doctors were purportedly so inspired by the medically-themed lyrics of early Carcass records that they decided to moonlight from their day jobs and record similar sounding gore-grind albums. In reality, they are probably just some dudes, but the idea that a 60-year old physician named Dr. Guy Radcliffe would suddenly decide to play on an album like 2007's Olidous Operettas is fun.
Gimmick: Obscure Band Ripped Off By Bigger, More Popular Bands
While this band led by ex-WWE performer Chris Jericho has evolved over the last decade into a solid hard rock outfit, their self-titled 2000 debut consisted mostly of covers. The band fronted an insanely hilarious (and completely made up) back story. Led by singer “Moongoose McQueen,” they had signed a sketchy deal in the early 1980's with a Japanese record label, which then sold off the songs to other bands (such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest), who went on to popularity while Fozzy toiled in obscurity until they were free from their contract.
Gimmick: Hobbit Metal
The work of J.R.R. Tolkien has inspired many heavy metal bands over the years, but Finnish folk-metal band Battlelore takes that inspiration to new levels. Over six albums — most recently this year's Doombound — every song in the band's career has been inspired by the Tolkien universe. You know these guys are for real, since they started along this path before the Lord of the Rings movies came out.
Gimmick: Video Games
Dressing like video game characters while performing, Powerglove taps into the hearts of gamers and metalheads alike with speed-metal renditions of songs from classic games such as Final Fantasy and Mega Man. Los Angeles metal (and gaming) fans will get a chance to experience the fun live when the band opens for prog-rockers Evergrey at the Key Club on Thursday, October 6th.
6. The Iron Maidens
Gimmick: Pioneers Of The All-Female Tribute Movement
All-female tribute bands are a dime a dozen these days, but the Iron Maidens have been the best at making a successful career out it. Like their male predecessors, the Maidens have toured the world and become a global phenomenon. Led by vocalist “Bruce Chickinson,” this is the rare tribute act that is worth going out of your way to check out live, which you can do at the band's 10th anniversary show at Paladino's in Tarzana on Saturday, October 1st.
Gimmick: Murder Metal
Most death-metal bands traverse morbid lyrical waters, devising generalized lyrics about murder, death, and destruction. Macabre, however, decided that real life was so fucked that there was no reason to make any shit up. The Chicago trio has built a 25-year career out of mining serial killers' bios for songs like “Jeffrey Dahmer Blues” and “Edward Kemper Has A Horrible Temper.”
Gimmick: Mexican Drug Lords In Hiding
Hispanic death-metal group Brujeria formed in the early 1990's under a shroud of secrecy. The band performed under pseudonyms, and claimed that all of its members were Mexican drug lords in hiding. Group members over the years have been revealed to include Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares and Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury. Brujeria will stick to the gimmick, however, when they play at House of Blues Sunset on Tuesday, October 18th, performing with bandanas over their faces to conceal their identities.
Gimmick: Pirate Metal
Pirates are pretty fucking metal. They drink, plunder, pillage, and fight. The lyrics on Scottish folk-metal group Alestorm's new album Back Through Time are all about the pirate's life, as well as those on previous albums Black Sails At Midnight and Captain Morgan's Revenge. The band also carries a very entertaining live presence, which will be on display when they perform tomorrow night at House Of Blues Sunset.
Gimmick: Intergalactic Terrorists
GWAR are scumdogs that have traveled across the universe to conquer Earth, enslave us all, and torture our political leaders and beloved celebrities. Earthling metal fans, however, have embraced this fate. At shows, they'll even happily get drenched in blood (not really), urine (not really), and semen (not really). The band will likely be torturing Charlie Sheen, Snooki, and Michelle Bachmann (or reasonable facsimiles of) when they come to town Saturday, November 12th at House of Blues Sunset.
Gimmick: Animated Global Corporate Titans
Dethklok have not quite reached the status of “world's seventh largest global economy” as is portrayed in the Adult Swim series Metalocalypse, but the band has gone on to be quite successful in the non-animated real world. They even headlined the San Bernardino stop of this year's Rockstar Mayhem tour, above “real” bands such as Disturbed and Godsmack. Before the series premiered, metal fans worried that the show would rip on the genre. It has become apparent, however, that the show is a loving tribute to the genre, warts and all.