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Famous Authors Ranked by Their Ability to Front a Successful Metal Band

It’s often hard to define the metal genre, it’s vast, with hundreds, if not thousands of sub-genres of which nerds debate about for hours. And that’s the dirty secret about metal, at its core it’s a genre for nerds by nerds. Often the lyrics are pulled directly from fantasy novels, or in the case of grindcore bands, medical journals. Today we rank famous authors by how good they would be fronting a metal band.

32. Bret Easton Ellis

The worst goregrind ever committed to tape.

31. Charles Dickens

Look, Dickens is the greatest novelist of the 19th century, no contest, we admit it. But there’s just no way. Even his most grim novels are full of whimsy and pluck, traits that only have a place in power metal (ew) and Dickens was way too busy coming up with weirdly apt names for his antagonists and diving Scrooge McDuck-style into that sweet sweet serialization and lecture circuit money to be bothered with tour planning or recording sessions. He’s got to make sure little Nell dies in the most absurdly melodramatic way possible at the end of “The Old Curiosity Shop,” there’s no time for this “heavy metal” nonsense.

30. John Milton

Milton can’t front a metal band; he’s too busy writing political tracts, shilling for Puritanism, and then narrowly avoiding being killed by the restored King Charles II for that whole thing where he had been an enthusiastic supporter of beheading Charles’ dad back in the 1640s. It’s too bad, because “Paradise Lost” is maybe the most metal book ever written. However, Milton does not want us to listen to metal. Milton wants us to think about sin and feel bad.

29. Jonathan Franzen

Franzen sometimes listens to folk black metal while he birdwatches, and his general “damn kids these days” view of the world is definitely compatible with elder metal performers like Gene Simmons and Glen Benton, but he’s really more of a post-punk guy, and his funeral doom bandmates are going to be really confused when he has them rehearse a song that sounds like Interpol.

28. John Bunyan

Wrote all of his best-known work in prison and was a hardline culture warrior, so the comparisons with Burzum are inevitable and will haunt his band until they break up and/or murder each other.

27. David Foster Wallace

Wallace was famously socially anxious. I mean, he went on an all-expenses-paid cruise and barely left his cabin. So definitely a bedroom recording project. It’ll start out sounding like 2nd wave black metal, because of course Wallace can basically reproduce the core sound of De Mysteriis dom Sathanas after just listening to it for an hour or two, but once that starts to feel too evil (hideous, even), he’ll shift to post-metal soundscapes. His insistence that anyone who listens to his demo must also read his heavily-footnoted artist’s statement was scorned by everyone except the members of Liturgy.

26. William Shakespeare

Shakespeare wrote a roughly equal number of comedies and tragedies, which means he’s willing to shift on a dime from the existential horrors of “Macbeth” or “King Lear” to the freewheeling zaniness of “As You Like It” or “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” In other words, he’s a Cannibal Corpse fan, and although he can’t do a decent hair-whip to save his life, he’s gonna start his band any day now.

25. Emily Brontë

Her band is really hoping the debut album’s moody cover art of misty moors and tortured lovers makes up for the narrative mess of the story, sorry, I mean music.

24. Jhumpa Lahiri

Lahiri’s characters are mostly neurotic strivers who drink good wine, go to Ivy League schools, read Gogol and Tolstoy for fun, and attend the opera. Their idea of rebelling usually involves listening to the Doors while drinking Budweiser poured over ice. Lahiri knows how to develop a dynamic character like no one’s business, but she also considers Metallica’s Black Album “too intense” and would basically be the worst metal frontwoman imaginable.

23. William Wycherley

Wycherley doesn’t take anything seriously. His most famous work, “The Country Wife,” is basically a five-act joke about impotence and adultery. Even when a character threatens to carve up his own wife’s face, it’s somehow played for laughs. Wycherley will record a demo that most reviewers will diplomatically say sounds more like hard rock than metal, then try to pivot into a stand-up comedy career, which will also go badly.

22. Ann M. Martin

Once “The Babysitters Club” became so successful that she could rest on her laurels and hire ghostwriters to crank out more installments about a group of middle school entrepreneurs in an impossibly utopian Connecticut suburb, she figured “why NOT start a thrash band?” She is still trying to learn the riff to “Hangar 18” and is starting to regret dropping five grand on a custom-made Jackson that she affectionately calls “The BSC Bruiser.”

21. John Keats

He likes to say it’s post-hardcore, but anyone who listens knows this is straight-up emo. The lyrics are impeccably written from a technical standpoint, but so self-pitying that even the guy from Dashboard Confessional thought they were “a bit much.”

20. Tom Clancy

An ungodly hybrid of the worst aspects (i.e. all aspects) of Five Finger Death Punch and Insane Clown Posse. Unsettling number of lyrical references to sniper scopes.

19. Samuel Richardson

First of all, he insists that every release has to be a quintuple LP concept album. Second, all the lyrics are from the perspective of teenage girls writing letters to each other, and then later from the perspective of a 20-something dude writing letters to his friend about how he wants to seduce one of them. The musicianship is sublime, but the lyrics are straight ick.

18. Alexander Pope

As established in his poem “An Essay on Criticism,” Pope believed that practice and finely-honed skill, not just an emotional sensibility, were the keys to good poetry, so he’s obviously now in a tech-death band that plays in time signatures no one’s ever heard of. He’s waiting to hear back from Colin Marston any day now about his band Vengeful Sylphs opening for Krallice.

17. Judy Blume

The protagonists from books like “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” clearly have a lot of adolescent angst to work out. Unfortunately, the most obvious go-to for this sort of thing is Linkin Park or Slipknot style nu-metal. Judy’s band is a JNCO-clad trainwreck that sounds like a time capsule from 2001, but she’s got this kid named Farley Drexel who absolutely wrecks ass behind the drum kit, and that honestly elevates the whole project a little.

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