The 10 best songs about Vikings
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They come from the land of the ice and snow, with swords and beards and drinking horns, pillaging and looting, fighting and marauding. That kind of thing. They've been a hardy mainstay of heavy metal iconography for decades, even inspiring their own loosely definable sub-genre. We donned our horned headgear and manned the longboats to work out the 10 best rock and metal songs about Vikings – and because there are too many to choose from, and because we always wanted to use this pun for something: Bathory's not included.
LED ZEPPELIN – Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
With Page's urgent choppy riff and Percy's chest-beating bravado, this provocatively-titled rampage set the template for future Viking metal, these glorious lyrics tapping into an ancient spirit of roving conquest with clear parallels to the decadent devastation of Zeppelin on tour. Cover versions by Dark Angel, The Sword, Infectious Grooves, Demons & Wizards, even the brilliantly bold live mangling by Enslaved, can't match the swashbuckling majesty of the original.
PETER HAMMILL – Viking (Fool's Mate, 1971)
The first solo album by Van Der Graaf Generator's founding frontman and all-round prog mastermind was an expansive affair. This moody conjuration of authentic Viking names ("Aud the Deep-Minded, Snorri Thorbrandsson, Thorstein The Black") and sensations ("Helmets and sheepskins salt-damp in the sea-mist") begins like a Bathory intro, with crashing waves and acoustic chords, but builds into a blissful folk-jazz psych jam with harmonica, saxophone, flute and harp.
IRON MAIDEN – Invaders (The Number Of The Beast,1982)
An inauspicious kids' TV theme tune of a song to open Iron Maiden's defining statement, Invaders gave Bruce a convoluted tongue-twister to kick off his first Maiden album: "Longboats have been sighted and the evidence of war has begun." However it's a poetical improvement on the first line of Maiden's earlier demo track on the same theme, Invasion: "The Vikings are coming, you'd better get ready for we're having a fight."