Here’s What Happened When Computers Tried Naming Metal Bands

Now that’s what I call METAL (Image: Weatherman90/Wikimedia Commons)
Now that’s what I call METAL (Image: Weatherman90/Wikimedia Commons)

Remember when metal band names were good? Names like RATT and Poison and Mötley Crüe elicited the perfect image: slick, sweaty men licking their guitars while wearing tight leather pants and acid washed jeans, wagging their hair-sprayed manes and rocking out harder than any of us so-called millennials could even imagine.


Not anymore. Now we’re stuck with lame names like Deafheaven and DragonForce and, like, sun O))) or whatever (I know little to nothing about metal not from the ‘80s). The only guitars those band names are licking are made out of plastic and hooked up to televisions.

Fortunately, optics researcher Janelle Shane—who’s previously created new paint colors, recipes, and even Pokémon using artificial intelligence—has once again solved one of our biggest problems using neural networks. HellBlazer from supplied her with a list of 100,000 existing metal bands names to train an artificial intelligence network with. And if there’s anyone who knows metal, it’s computers.

These names, they’re metal as all hell. Like Chaosrug. And “Squeen.”

Image for article titled Here’s What Happened When Computers Tried Naming Metal Bands

This kind of artificial intelligence consists of computer systems trained on big datasets to solve problems traditional computers struggle with, like pattern recognition. Shane trained a network called char-rnn on the metal names. When it’s ready, it starts with a letter then picks the next logical letter based on what it knows about heavy metal band names. I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s as if you only taught your kid heavy metal band names instead of English. And that’s metal as hell.

Shane’s previously told us that she does this for fun—essentially, she saw a list of neural network recipes that ended before she wanted it to, so she made her own. “This amuses me endlessly, that is why I do it,” she told us. Shane runs the Postcards from the Frontiers of Science blog and is always looking for silly new datasets to play with. Last we spoke, she was thinking about training the network to come up with new names for craft beers. Please send me the beer name dataset if you have it.


Anyway, rock on with your bad self. And if you need a new band name, just ask the robot overlords.

[Postcards from the Frontiers of Science]




The list of computer generated paint colors would also make a good list of band names, especially Stanky Bean.