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Dungeons & Dragons-inspired concept album In League with Dragons wants to make ‘dragon noir’ a thing

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American rock band The Mountain Goats have announced a new full-length concept album partially inspired by tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons.

According to songwriter John Darnielle, In League with Dragons was originally devised as a rock opera set in a coastal town called Riversend ruled over by a wizard, before it began to shift into a darker vision of the fantasy world with nods to mystery novels and noir storytelling.

“I thought these moods helped complicate the wizards and dragons a little, and, as I thought about my wizard, his health failing, the invasion by sea almost certain to wipe out half his people, I thought about what such a person might look like in the real world,” Darnielle said.

As you might expect from a music album that takes its cues from fantasy fiction, there are some extremely D&D titles in the 12-song tracklist, from the title track and ‘Clemency For The Wizard King’ to ‘Cadaver Sniffing Dog’ and the slightly whimsical-sounding ‘Possum By Night’.

Bringing things full circle, In League with Dragons was announced via the official Dungeons & Dragons Twitter, where it was described as suited “to be chanted over campfires ascending the hill of the Dragon Lord”. The Mountain Goats also livestreamed a performance from the HQ of D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast.

In League with Dragons will be released on April 26th. Although it's not the first music album inspired by D&D – Midnight Syndicate released the first official soundtrack for the RPG back in 2003 – Darnielle said that he hopes its approhach to fantasy themes will help spawn a new style of music he calls “dragon noir”.

“I am earnestly hoping that a new genre called “dragon noir” will spring from the forehead of nearly two years’ work on these songs, but, if not, I am content for this to be the sole example of the style,” he said.

Listen to the first song from In League with Dragons, six-minute guitar battle ballad Younger, below.

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