While joking yesterday that it would be something if the density of power metal bands in Germany would give rise to a similar kind of rivalry you see among rappers in the States, I decided to try my hand at a humorous story about a power metal drive-by-shooting. I think it turned out fairly alright. There's a bit of (good-natured) German stereotyping - especially concerning German cars - and some comment on the steadfast rejection of anything new or daring within much of the 'True' Metal scene. I think you'll get a kick out of it if you're a (power) metal fan. Enjoy. Bullets Over Beieren "Step on it, Udo," Jöhän yells in Udo's ear. Udo pushes his foot down to the floor of the black, 1996 Bee Em Doubleyou as Accept blares out of the speakers of the Blaupunkt surround system. The engine rumbles slightly louder within its padded textile sound-suppression confines as the car picks up speed. "Faster!" Jürgën shouts in the back seat. "We're going to miss him. He always leaves the Dïskötëk at nine." "I vill not risk it," Udo exclaims. "I'm shtill making townpayments on ze new carburatur I had inshtallt. Ze bank offert me an effishient plan of flexible interest rates, but I'll have to make monthly payments until two zouzant ten." Despite his stringent protest, Udo pushes down on the button next to the Blaupunkt Surround controller, opening an extra six valves within the engine block that will increase the fuel injection's efficiency. The car darts forward. The engine protests for a moment, but the valve lubrication system reacts quickly. The car's dynamic shock absorbers interface with the onboard computer, which is receiving satellite data on the condition of all the roads in the area, letting the automobile glide smoothly along the multi-layered asphalt at about a hundred and fifty kilometres per hour. "They shouldn't have messed up Kärl like that," Otto muses in the back as he inspects the Uzi one last time. "Now it's payback time." The others nod in unison. The cd changer changes cds, silently. An array of strings starts to resound through the speakers, interwoven with a badly edited keyboard sample of a trumpet. The car's occupants frown, then glance sideways at one another. "What's that?" Jöhän enquires, a timbre of suspicious concern jarring his voice. Udo starts to sweat. "Do zyou...ah...like it?" he endeavours. The others listen more closely as a distorted electric guitar rises out of the mix and quickly moves into a chugging E minor chord structure. The alternating bass drums shake the windows of the car. Its occupants slowly start to nodd their heads to the tempo of the music. "Yeah, it's not bad," Jürgën declares. Castrato vocals join in the onslaught now. Trumpet samples cackle their way through the fill after the first stanza. "What is it?" Otto wants to know. Udo swallows, keeping his eyes strained at the road ahead. "It's, ah...something I'f been playing around with," he divulges, warily. "Vhat do zyou fink?" His companions glance around at one another. "It's pretty cool," they concede. "Why didn't you tell us you were working on a side project?" Udo shrugs in a cascading A harmonic minor run. The Stratocaster whirls out the precipitation with brutal efficiency. Arpeggios are heard. "I did not vish to let anyvan hear until it vas finished," he explains, apologetically, as he coughs and takes a turn at a hundred and twenty kilometres per hour. Jöhän's still frowning, however. He doesn't like what he's hearing. Something's not right. Is it the wails in high D? The barrages of sixteenth notes? The choirs? No, it's something else... "Who produced it?" he asks. "Vhat?" "The sound," Jöhän clarifies. "Who did it?" He suddenly notices the jewel case sitting on the dashboard, against the windshield. Before Udo is able to react, he snatches it from its place and pores over the back. An expression of shock contorts his face. "This was recorded in the East Side!" he cries out in horror. The others turn to Udo in anger, eyes strained wide open. Udo swallows again, painfully. "I...ah..." Udo can't escape the incising eyes of his bandmates. Sweat is collecting behind his leather wristbands. The idea that he's sitting at the wheel of an automobile, his only companions three heavily armed men, suddenly doesn't fill him with confidence in the further development of the situation. Jöhän pinches the top of his nose and squeezes his eyes shut as he raises an unsteady hand in the air. "Alright," he hisses, attempting to find some foothold in the emotional torrent that rages inside him. "It's alright. We have a job to do. We'll talk about this when we get back home." Udo despondently fixes his eyes on the road as the jewel case is tossed back carelessly onto the dashboard in front of the steering wheel. The band logo of Eternal Steel stares him in the face, an unpleasant reminder of what will await him when the car pulls back into the West Side. The Bee Em Doubleyou slows as it enters an area with denser traffic. Other Bee Em Doubleyous, Mercedeses and Volkswagens line the roads or glide smoothly and efficiently through them. A large, modern building in an Art Deco-based style rises up out of the clusters of appartment buildings to the left. "There's the Dïskötëk," Jürgën announces, cocking the Mägnüm. Jöhän checks his watch. Nine Oh Three. He hopes they're not too late. "There he is!" Otto suddenly shouts, pointing to the blonde, longhaired young man pushing his way through the Dïskötëk's revolving doors. "Step on it, Udo!" Udo pushes down on the accelerator once more, the engine purring gently inside its computer simulation-tested soundpads. This is it. Revenge. The young man outside works his way down the steps leading down to street level as the Bee Em Doubleyou's onboard computer silently rolls down the double-plated windows. From the panes three men erupt, all holding a firing arm. Time seems to stretch, the moment lengthens. Seconds are lifetimes. Until Jürgën unclenches his jaw and shrieks viciously, shattering the time interim. "Ride the Wings of Eternity!" Bullets spray the pavement. Grit erupts from the layered and computer simulation-tested concrete, the otherwise immaculate sidewalk transmuting to a sea of violently flaring dust and stone. "Follow the Sign!" Otto howls as he empties the Uzi into the body of the blonde man. "...In Hell!" The victim flails dramatically as the barrage of computer simulation-tested lead efficiently sends him hurtling down the remaining steps. Blood smears the stone as the body rolls down to the pavement. The tunes of the East Side-produced Eternal Steel booming in the background add a twinge of irony to the brutality of the scene as Michkäëll Jürggenddssënn's body comes to a halt against the foot of a 'Nö Pärkïng - Dïskötëk' sign on the sidewalk. Uzis and Mägnüms click idly, their clips depleted, and then the Bee Em Doubleyou's occupants are swallowed up by the windowpanes again and the car darts away, leaving bystanders to gawk at Michkäël's broken and bloodied remains splayed out in front of the 'Tëk. "That was for you, Kärl," Otto forces out shakily, gently stroking the length of the Uzi. The others nod grimly as the windows are pushed up into their frames again and automatically readjust their opacity to the brightness of the air outside. The engine hums as Udo turns several corners, finds a quiet and straight stretch of road and lets the navigation computer plot the way through the alien and unfriendly locales that are the East Side, back to the comforting familiarity of the West Side. All four men relax. They did it. And got away with it. And no one but those that mattered would know it was them. By carefully removing the Umlauts from the vowels on the license plate, there is no way to trace the car. They sit back languidly and sigh in the warmth of the heating system. The calm after the storm. It would've been perfect, if Udo hadn't spoken up. "I'f been finking," he says. "Yes?" Jürgën utters warily. The notion of a drummer engaging in the kind of activity mentioned is threatening. "Vhat if ve try to go in a different direction on ze neksht album?" The others look around, panicky. "What do you mean, Udo?" "I mean, vhat if ve were to add zome influences from other shtyles? Maybe do zome acoushtic vork?" Otto swallows something hard. "Acoustic? You mean like a medieval ballad?" "Nein," Udo answers, shaking his head. "Nothing like zhat. More like..." "A regular ballad?" Jürgën ventures. "No," Udo responds; "More like...ekshperimental things. Zome prog. Maybe some a-melodic things. You know." Jöhän begins to perspire uncontrollably. His breathing becomes faster. "You mean...not power metal?" "Not really, no," Udo utters to the indignation of his bandmates. He coughs. "Und not about dragons." It was around that time that bystanders, had there been any, would have seen a man wearing leather wristbands being thrust rather violently out of a black, 1996 Bee Em Doubleyou onto the sidewalk, after which the car would have driven on for a yard, stopped, opened a door, and expelled what looked like a cd jewel case in the direction of the previously mentioned individual. Then they would've seen the car dart off. Not with the obligatory screech of tyres - since careful computer simulated testing and multi-layered rubber removed any possibility of the tyres emitting any such noise - but purring gently.