There are four different kinds of classical dramatic conflict: man vs. themselves, man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. dice. There is no greater struggle than that of the noble tabletop RPG warrior against the polyhedrons of fate as they cast the runes and pray that fate smiles upon their endeavors. It’s truly epic; something worth immortalizing in song.
Many power metal bands have ventured into the dungeon to try to capture the vibe of the role-playing experience, but most roll critical fails (it’s very easy to fall into a spike trap of cheesiness). The Ventura-based, D&D-inspired metal outfit Gygax sidestep the pitfalls by approaching from a different angle: classic hard rock. Formed after the dissolution of the similarly Thin Lizzy-loving quartet Gypsyhawk, Gygax’s throwback hard rock sensibilities are drawn from the ‘70s, the same era that gave us Dungeons & Dragons itself—there are big, melodic riffs, pulse-quickening tempos, gutsy vocals, and solos aplenty.
Their third album, High Fantasy, uses dual guitar harmonies and Lynott-esque singing to tell stories of wizards, monsters, and spellcraft. It feels more confident than its predecessor, 2nd Edition, with cleaner production and smoother melodies that give songs like “Spell Shaker” and “Mage Lust” a classic feel. It’s a little too energetic to serve as background music for a role-playing session, but it’ll definitely get a gaming group pumped to go throw dice against the worst monsters the Forgotten Realms can muster.