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

A metal umlaut (also known as röck döts[citation needed]) is a diacritic that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of mainly hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example, those of Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Motörhead, the Accüsed, Mötley Crüe and the parody bands Spın̈al Tap and Green Jellÿ.


Among English speakers, the use of umlaut marks and other diacritics with a blackletter typeface is a form of foreign branding, which has 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, unlike the umlaut in German (where the letters u and ü, a and ä, as well as o and ö, represent distinct vowels) and the Scandinavian languages (where å, ä and a, ö/ø and o are distinct letters).


German rock band Amon Düül, who released their first album Psychedelic Underground in 1969, have two umlauts in their name.

The first gratuitous use of the umlaut in the name of a hard rock or metal band appears to have been by Blue Öyster Cult in 1970. Blue Öyster Cult's website states it was added by guitarist and keyboardist Allen Lanier,[2] but rock critic Richard Meltzer claims to have suggested it to their producer and manager Sandy Pearlman just after Pearlman came up with the name: "I said, 'How about an umlaut over the O?' Metal had a Wagnerian aspect anyway."[3]


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!'"[4]

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."[5] The heavy metal parody band Gwar parodied the use of metal umlauts in a lyric insert included with its first record, stylizing the song names with gratuitous diacritics.[6] In 1997, the satirical newspaper The Onion published an article titled "Ünited Stätes Toughens Image With Umlauts."[7]

Band or album name examples[edit]

English-speaking countries[edit]

Other countries[edit]

  • Аквариум – Russian rock band, whose name is stylized as "Åквариум" on their logo, and they use "Å" as their symbol.
  • Crashdïet – Swedish glam metal band.
  • Die Ärzte – German punk band, have used three dots over the "Ä" since their 2003 album Geräusch. The normal two-dot umlaut, Die Ärzte, is simply correct German for The Doctors.
  • Girugämesh – Japanese rock band often stylise their name with an umlaut over the a.
  • Infernal – Danish electronic band, was stylized as Infërnal on their album Waiting for Daylight.
  • Insidiöus Törment – Liechtenstein-based old school heavy metal band who use gratuitous umlauts, but pronounce them nonetheless.
  • Kobaïan – French progressive rock band Magma sings in this constructed language, which has many diacritic symbols in its written form.
  • Közi – Japanese rock musician.
  • Mägo de Oz – Spanish folk metal band.
  • Moottörin Jyrinä – Finnish heavy metal band, the umlaut in Moottörin is gratuitous, but the one in Jyrinä is not.
  • Motör Militia – Bahraini thrash metal band.
  • Mütiilation – French black metal band.
  • Püdelsi – Polish rock band.
  • Törr – Czech black metal band.

Other examples[edit]

Video games[edit]


  • Häagen-Dazs – an ice cream brand (introduced 1961)
  • Stüssy - the skateboard / punk / streetware brand started by Shawn Stussy (introduced 1984)
  • Cröonchy Stars – a discontinued breakfast cereal (introduced 1988)
  • Tonfön – the Tongan telephone company (introduced 2002)
  • Brüno – film by Sacha Baron Cohen (2009)
  • Jason Derulo stylised his stage name as "Jason Derülo" on his 2010 debut album and its promotion
  • Löded Diper – name of the fictional band that Rodrick Heffley plays in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series
  • Deathtöngue – the original name of a metal band in the comic Bloom County (changed, after media publicity, to "Billy and the Boingers")
  • Krêfel - Belgian chain of consumer electronics. In this case the intention is however not to project a 'gothic' quality but rather 'quality'.
  • Asüna - Canadian automobile brand

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "BÖC Retrospectively: Stalk Forrest Group 1969–1970". Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  3. ^ Lisa Gidley (2000). "Hell Holes: Spin̈al Tap's main man explains the importance of the umlaut". CMJ. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  4. ^ Eric Spitznagel (November 27, 2009). "Motley Crue's Vince Neil is Finally Bored With Boobs". Vanity Fair.
  5. ^ Inc, CMJ Network (Oct 29, 2000). "CMJ New Music Monthly". CMJ Network, Inc. Retrieved Oct 29, 2020 – via Google Books. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  6. ^ "Gwar - Hell-O!". Discogs. 1988.
  7. ^ "Ünited Stätes Toughens Image With Umlauts". The Onion. 30 April 1997.

External links[edit]

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