Metal umlaut

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Mötley Crüe's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which shows the two metal umlauts used in the band's name MötleyCrüe Star.jpg
Mötley Crüe's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which shows the two metal umlauts used in the band's name

A metal umlaut is a diacritic that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example those of Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Motörhead, The Accüsed and Mötley Crüe.



In German orthography the umlaut version of a vowel is pronounced differently from the normal vowel; the letters u and ü represent distinct sounds, as do o and ö as well as a and ä .[ citation needed ] In the Latin languages it's used to show differences in usual pronunciation: e.g., Spanish bilingüe (bilingual) is pronounced [bi.liŋ.gue] instead of [bi.liŋ.ge]; Catalan països (countries) is pronounced [pə.i.zus] instead of [pəi.zus]; in this form of usage it is called the dieresis.

Among English speakers, the use of umlaut marks and other diacritics with a blackletter style typeface is a form of foreign branding intended to give a band's logo a Teutonic quality—connoting stereotypes of boldness and brutality presumably associated with Germanic and Nordic cultures. Its use has also been attributed to a desire for a "gothic horror" feel. [1] The metal umlaut is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band's name.


Speakers of languages which use an umlaut to designate a pronunciation change may understand the intended effect, but perceive the result differently. When Mötley Crüe visited Germany, singer Vince Neil said the band couldn't figure out why "the crowds were chanting, Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh!" [2]

These decorative umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction; in an interview about the mockumentary film This Is Spın̈al Tap , fictional rocker David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says, "It's like a pair of eyes. You're looking at the umlaut, and it's looking at you." [3] The heavy metal parody band Gwar parodied the use of metal umlauts by filling the song names on its first album with decorative diacritics.

Band or album name examples

English-speaking countries

Other countries

Video games and books

Other products with decorative umlauts

See also


  1. Garofalo, Rebee (1997). Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA. Allyn & Bacon. p. 292. ISBN   0-205-13703-2. "Some groups, for example Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead, added gratuitous umlauts to their names to conjure up a more generic gothic horror, a practice that continued into the 1980s with Mötley Crüe and others."
  2. Eric Spitznagel (November 27, 2009). "Motley Crue's Vince Neil is Finally Bored With Boobs". Vanity Fair.
  3. CMJ New Music Monthly Oct 2000