A new video is out for the title track of KREATOR's new album, and it's got swords, guitars, mountains of skulls, a barbarian warrior, a corrupted king, and more. For those in the know, there are visual references to several Frank Frazetta paintings, and for that, I love the video. (The song is good too...while I haven't yet heard the album, it received a thumbs up from Atanamar.)
However the video also features tons of dudes wearing naught but loincloths. While that same image is something present in all the greatest Frazetta and Vallejo paintings, and all the best 1980's barbarian flicks, it's difficult to take seriously in 2009. The image of a bronzed muscled barbarian warrior is just too real. Or maybe too gay.
Either way, I'd like to pose the question: do barbarian warriors have a place in these postmodern times?
As the first step towards addressing this question, allow me to theorize that the rise of the viking in the current zeitgeist owes itself to this very decline in barbarian warrior acceptance. For evidence of the current viking mania, see
1) Amon Amarth
3) a bunch of other Viking metal bands I don't listen to
4) The killer relaunch of Marvel's THOR (yes, comic books are metal)
5) and the recent Viking specials on PBS (yes, PBS is metal).
Vikings are so hot right now, because we can no longer handle the near nakedness of barbarian warriors. Vikings have many of the cool attributes of barbarian warriors (insatiable thirst for battle, women, and mead; swords, horned helmets; bad teeth) and none of the bad ones (loincloths, shaved and oiled chests).
The obesity epidemic of the Western world might also have something to do with this. Heavy metal bands can grow beards, purchase tunics, helms, and mead horns (they probably sell these things at the Scandinavian branch of Hot Topic) and look like a viking. It's been done, and it works. However, their bellies are now too large to convincingly do the barbarian thing a la Manowar. You can hide a belly (yes, beer guts are metal) inside that artificially war-torn ("distressed?") tunic, but a barbarian's garb hides absolutely nothing. The result? Tons of Viking metal bands, and precious few barbarian metal bands.
In conclusion, I believe that barbarians can once again capture our collective imaginations, but not until the world undergoes some subtle changes. First of all, we need to get totally ripped. Go on ebay right now, sell yr rare black metal vinyl, and purchase a Bowflex. Second, the current administration must aggressively push a pro-barbarian agenda abroad, into Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This is a delicate geo-political tango, indeed.
I think KREATOR has taken a few steps in the right direction. Are you ready to embrace barbarians again? Recommended reading: Robert E. Howard and John Norman. Recommended viewing: Deathstalker II, The Warrior and the Sorceress.
KREATOR tours this spring with EXODUS to support the new album.