Hot Take: Roman Numerals Are as Dead as Latin; Stop Using Them!


“III,” MMXVI, VIII. None of this means anything. Stop doing it.

I get it. I really do. You blew all of your creative loads writing killer riffs and penning incomprehensible lyrics about zombie chronomancers traveling back in time to impregnate Gaia and birth the true human race. Your creativity has limits, man, and it’s better to use it where it counts. No one remembers song titles or album names anyway. When compiling their precious year-end lists, metalheads always just refer to the band names anyway. There’s no need to get cryptic with it. Just pick something that looks old and cool, just like Old English. Yeah, that’s the trick!

Coming soon to the truck of a Corolla near you.

Wrong! If you can’t think of anything else to name your band, album, or song other than a Roman numeral, you need to put down the bong (or maybe bump a line instead, I dunno). It wasn’t clever when Led Zeppelin did it. Everyone knows they just ripped off American blues rock musicians anyway. It wasn’t even clever when the Romans did it. There’s a reason their Empire collapsed, and it isn’t because they were never able to quash the war-hungry Germanic tribes or deal with the immense slave population or restrict recruitment of mercenary legionnaires. It’s because their numeral system was too unwieldy to keep track of the logistics of a continent-spanning empire, and the Roman consul needed a sprawling army of bureaucrats just to crunch the numbers for the sprawling army of soldiers. We all know nothing will fell a world superpower like a turgid bureaucracy.

Look at all these jabronis crunching numbers all day.

Roman numerals don’t even let you stand out in the already bloated heavy metal scene in this, the year of our lord MMXVI (see how many unnecessary digits that number contains?). A quick search of Metal-Archives shows me that there  are 665 albums named III. 665! That’s a whole lot of uncreativity for a genre that prides itself on being outré.

And don’t think you’re being clever by naming your band rather than your album a Roman numeral. Do you see how much cooler Division VIII sounds than just VIII? You’re killing me, guys.

Plus, there are rad languages and numeric systems beyond Roman numerals and Latin. Why not go the Cult of Fire route and choose Hindi? Or, if you’re too pigheaded to choose a living language, why not dabble in the Sanskrit alphabet?

Do something, anything, that proves you took a little more than a high school Latin class. You deserve more recognition, and we deserve better titles. Henceforth, I’m enacting an embargo on all Roman numerals. So if want to name your new record IV, you can just X yourself outta here.

(Photos VIA, VIA)

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