When Jeff Wayne was hunting for a musical way to express the horror and chaos of a Martian invasion, it was to Led Zeppelin he turned. The synthesiser riff on “Horsell Common And The Heat Ray”, so evocative of war-blasted Wokingham and Chobham, is nothing more than the wordless chorus howl of “Immogrant Song”, slowed down a bit. To the Angles huddled in their sheepfolds on the North Sea coast, the attacking Norsemen must have seemed as terrifyingly other as the Martians, sharing their blind death-lust and effortless tech superiority. So of course from the comfort of our armchairs centuries later it’s the Northlanders we empathise with, not their prey: surely being a Viking must have been as primal and thrlling as Led Zeppelin’s most undeniably POP moment?
(Similarly, in Wayne if not Wells the Martians are BY SOME DISTANCE the amoral pop heroes of WoTW – let’s face it, OOLAA gets the blood pumping more than D.Essex)
To be a “barbarian”, an invader, is to face two historical fates: oblivion or assimilation. The long-term economics of constant rapine don’t add up – sooner or later you end up dead, or in a bigger sheepfold of your own, listlessly watching the horizon you once shadowed. That’s the pessimistic view, anyway, one I subscribed to when I used to handwave Led Zep away into irrelevance because they were Rock and Old. The Vikings short-circuited that gloomy prospect by simply making their afterlife a hall of heroes where eternal pillage was an option. In its forever addictive aggression, the Zep song that turned me round on them makes the same point.