LAST TIME: We discovered that Ned Stark was probably a pretty good dad, but just too uptight to truly thrash, and that King Robert was so bad, baby, that he didn’t care, at least up until the point when he was killed by death. This time, we examine Greatjon Umber and Ramsay Bolton, and I tell you, those guys – SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, DON’T CLICK ANYTHING IN THIS IF YOU’VE NEVER WATCHED THE SHOW OR READ THE BOOKS, DEAR LORD SAVE ME FROM ALL THESE SPOILERS.
Let’s be serious here for a minute; there’s no point in debating whether or not The Bastard of the Dreadfort is metal or not. The dude is undeniably so metal, even at just a glance, and whenever this little project gets to the point of putting actual power rankings together, he’s a definite threat to reach #1. The dude hunts people with dogs, and then skins them alive. Holmes is like the living embodiment of any form of music designed to scare people’s grandparents. The real question here is what kind of metal the dude is. The easy answer would be Cannibal Corpse style death metal, what with the torturing and dismembering and what-have-you. But really, face-crushing brutal violence just isn’t the dude’s style, so much as more of a more deliberate, and frankly, more evil style of conducting business. So what with this being the internet, where eveyone’s all “oh look at me, I’m underground” and all, you’d think I would say black metal, like the True Norwegian style, where dudes burn down churches, stab each other 23 times, and use photos of freshly shotgun-suicided bandmates for album covers. (not posting a link to that one, seriously) But really, if you listen to those dudes talk, sure they pull some serious shit, but at least in their eyes, there’s some sort of righteous justification to it. As in they’re just burning all those Jesus churches, because the Jesus church people burned down all their Odin-type churches a few hundred years back. But Ramsay Bolton doesn’t really seem to have to justify any of the monstrous shit he does, so much as he’s being evil simply for the sake of being evil, like an R-rated, low-tech Captain Planet villain or something. He’s not cutting off Theon’s dingdong because some Ironborn shanghaied the dingdong of one of his Bolton ancestors, so much as he’s doing it because boy, that sure would fuck with Theon, wouldn’t it? It’s the old “because it’s there” reason for climbing a mountain. The mountaineer climbs the mountain because it’s there, Ramsay Bolton skins someone alive simply because they’ve got skin. It’s more of a pure, no-excuses, cartoonishly vile sort of evil, with no real reason behind it, other than MOOHOOHOOHAHAHAHAHA.
So I’d probably go with more of an old school brand of devil music, from back when dudes were fully comfortable with being the bad guy in their songs, and wanted to destroy Earth more than they wanted to get involved with local politics or whatever.
METAL LEVEL: Extremely high, perhaps… ultimate?
BANDS/GENRES REPRESENTED: Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Venom, Bathory, maybe older Slayer.
As strong as a bear, as fearless as a honey badger on bath salts, and as big as an Andre Giant, the Greatjon is one of King Robb Stark’s tightest bros and most powerful allies, for all the good that did him. But even as man of the extreme North, with his house within spitting distance of the Wall itself, there’s sort of a weirdly southern vibe I get from the dude, at least southern as in the southern United States. Seriously, hear me out, I’ve spent my entire aware-of-my-surroundings life in either Mississippi or Oklahoma, (which is sort of a weird honorary fake south, I guess) and in places such as these, there are Greatjons everywhere. Big-ass, rowdy dudes who are somehow simultaneously good-natured and violent, and able to shrug off major injuries with laughter more often than tears. I guarantee it, when Grey Wind bit off Greatjon’s fingers, somewhere in Kentucky, a seven-fingered dude with an illegal HBO hookup chuckled and remembered the incident with the cherry bomb back in ’83.
And let’s not forget that basically no one ever, EVER just calls the dude “Jon.” That would be unthinkable. Head to the rural parts of the country and at least 35% of the populace is never referred to by their government-issued first name for any reason other than court appearances. Seriously, in my life and times, I have either directly known or been just a couple of degrees of separation from lots of these people, like Rabbit, Chicken, Turk, Fish, Skillet, Fruits, Fruit (no relation to Fruits), Meatloaf, Pork Chop, Goose, Doughnut, Toad (actually related to Fruits), Blue, Green Dude, Puny, Moose, Peanut, Bookie, Big Boosie, Fat Daddy, and Rattlehead, among others. I just fear for the eventual outcome of this dude’s role in the story, because a pretty fucked-up demise always awaits that manner of dude, in my experience. Of course, in the books, it’ll involve some manner of brutal sword-murder, and in the show, they’ll probably do that “sliced downward, kinda between the shoulder and the head” thing that happens in every episode, but even if there never was a war and things were throttled down to a real-life level of mayhem, he’d probably be doomed. I imagine Robb and Jon Snow would be hanging out somewhere, and Catelyn would roll up and be all, “well, hate to tell you this, but the Greatjon’s dead. Him and Karstark were partying last night, and it turns out that the Dreamwine they thought they were doing was laced with Tears of Lys. Bet it was that asshole Bolton’s little bastard that sold it to ’em but they won’t be able to prove anything. Anyway, funeral’s Saturday.” And the funeral itself would be some awful dreary bullshit, with the Septon calling everybody out for being sinners, but the after-party would be kind of awesome, with everyone getting plastered and sharing their best Greatjon stories, like that time at the tournament they had for King Robert’s name-day, when Greatjon and Thoros of Myr were hitting the summerwine pretty hard, shit kept escalating, the phrase “bet you won’t, pussy, I DARE you” was said more than once, and it ended up being more than just Thoros’s sword getting set on fire. The Grand Maester had seven hells of a time trying to find a salve for THAT, I tell you what. Then, Edmure Tully almost brought the whole thing to a screeching halt, borrowing Rymund the Rhymer’s lute and playing this really dreary-ass Dothraki spiritual about never getting to see his horse in the Night Lands or whatever, until the Blackfish finally snatched the thing away from him and played “Summertime Blues.” Good times.
Poor guy just can’t catch a break.
Anyway, I’ve strayed about eight miles away from the topic, and I’ll try to steer it back for a minute. I’ve known a lot of Greatjons one way or another, and yeah, they’re usually, big, loud, prone to violence, and either seemingly indestructible or indifferent to the pains involved in their own destruction, and all of these are fairly metal traits to have. But the thing is, at least in my experience – yours may vary, I dunno – these dudes really aren’t very metal in practice as much as in theory. The younger generation of Greatjons are more into a bizarre mix of nu-country, Kid Rock, and whatever passes for gangsta rap these days, maybe only barely scratching the metal surface with stuff like Metallica or Pantera, and the older version is more of an old-school hard rock sort of guy, with the Led Zepplin and the Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Van Halen (NOT Van Hagar) and whatnot. Also, Aerosmith, but just like real Aerosmith, before they got off drugs and started doing the same monster ballad over and over. The Greatjon rocks pretty hard; this is undeniable. He just doesn’t want to hear any of that Satanic kill-your-mama bullshit you kids listen to, and he’ll kick your ass hard if it ever gets played on his stereo.
METAL LEVEL: Shockingly low, but extremely rocking.
BANDS/GENRES REPRESENTED: Southern Rock, 70s Guitar Rock, ZZ Top, Boston, all the stuff from the classic rock station in the years before they started sneaking Guns ‘N Roses and Pearl Jam on there, etc.
NEXT TIME: Dagonstone Special Edition with King Stannis, Lady Melisandre, and Davos the Onion Knight. Be there~