I stumbled upon this post on Reddit today while drinking my caffeine, and got caught up in a comment thread curious as to why the song references Iron Maiden in that early 2000s era. The argument in the thread was that ‘nerdy’ types would also be drawn to fantastical epic metal because it offered a different escape from reality.
Honestly, I didn’t quite see why the song would reference Iron Maiden either, but it got me thinking about it. It’s Iron Maiden that arguably created that whole genre which still continues today (albeit super over-the-top). Blind Guardian (formed 1984, almost ten years after IM) literally has a track called Lord of the Rings, and even albums named after the LOTR universe (Nightfall in Middle Earth). That song itself isn’t power metal but the band sure is (Mirror Mirror anyone?).
After the LOTR movies came out around this American Pie era, imagining hearing Rhapsody or Avantasia after stepping out of that movie theater. It mixes those same poppy punk guitar feels with that symphonic/epic cinematic sound. If you’re an occidental teenage boy, especially one bummed out with school and social life, I daresay you’re a liar if you say that music wouldn’t get a teenager stoked just to walk into that fantastical land for a 5 minute song… it’s all just a formula that blends different aspects of pop culture together to hook you.
These days, tell me music videos from bands like Gloryhammer or Unleash the Archers (among hundreds more, I’m not trying to play favorites) wouldn’t at least get a smile out of those same teenage boys, if nothing else. They’ve gone past fantasy and entered into alternate realities, futuristic science fiction, and permutations of the three. The genre has gotten so over the top that it doesn’t take it seriously–it may never have, tbh–but because of that pop culture formula that’s why we still listen and I think kids today will still start picking up the genre.
There’s something about epic storytelling in a metal song, not restricted to heavy distortion and screaming like most think of when they think of metal, that really just gets a guy pumped.