Avalon Calling: The Arthurian Myth In Pop, Goth And Metal

Rocks Off got a press release the other day extolling the upcoming sixth studio album by metal band Anaal Nathrakh. We had no idea what the hell it was, and thought it was one of those weirdly-spelled porn spams we seem to get so much.

Luckily, our editor knew that "Anaal Nathrakh" was the first two words in Merlin's Charm of Making from the movie Excalibur. In the film, Merlin uses the charm to turn King Arthur's dad, Uther Pendragon, into the likeness of the Duke of Cornwall, with whose wife he wanted to make two and a half minutes of squishy noises.

The charm itself... is pretty much just gibberish based on Old Irish. If you really work at it, according to linguist Michael Everson, it translates as:

Serpent's breath

Charm of death and life

Thy omen of making.

That's if you follow the script, although the phonetics they use in the film are as bad as a Klingon speaker tackling Tolkien's Elvish. Wow... there may not be a single person reading this that would believe at this point that we've ever had the tiniest bit of sex.

The immortal tale of King Arthur has fascinated us since we were little, after we got our hands on a VHS of a cartoon called Young King Arthur. This show has, as far as we can tell, has gone to pop-culture heaven and no longer exists. The legend combines all the greatest aspects of adventure and romance, so it's no surprise that the mythology has contributed greatly to modern song.

There have been a lot. Two award-winning Broadway musicals, Camelot and Monty Python's Spamalot have been based on King Arthur. Hard rocker Gary Hughes dedicated two whole albums, The Once and Future King Pts. I and II, to Arthur.

One of our favorite tributes is Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson's song "Return of the King" from his 1998 solo album The Chemical Wedding. The song deals with one of the most potent and enduring aspects of Arthur's kingship; namely, that he is destined to return to rule England in its darkest hour.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner