War songs in rock and metal

War songs in rock and metal

Rockers and metalheads alike know pretty well that heavy songs about war can give off a powerful meaning, and can have ultimate badassery. Today we'll be jumping in to that badassery.

War songs obviously have been around much longer than metal and rock has. Some talked about what was happening in the fighting, others were Anti-war. Some bands in later years created different songs about both. Either way, both types attempt to expose the horrors of fighting in war. Probably one of the first metal war songs around was Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" (On the album, Paranoid).

War songs in rock and metal

In bassist Geezer Butler's point of view, war was a true evil. He told how the song really isn't about politics or the government. Just about war being the true Satan really. His thoughts on it shine though some of the lyrics in the songs, such as the part "generals gathered in the masses / just like witches at black masses". Comparing it all to dark witches gathering.


Personally one of my favorite songs by the band.

In later years, heavy bands such as Metallica and Slayer made their own part.

Slayer's way of expressing the horrors of war was, well... horrific. They already weren't so afraid to scare people with other songs about hell and satan, but their ways of speaking about war was pretty much their way of saying its the equivalent of hell on earth. One song, called "War Ensemble" spoke less of hellish afterlife, but more about the suffering, in pretty graphic ways. (Found on Seasons In The Abyss)


Believe it or not, it was around September last year when I first heard this song. Nearly broke my neck from the headbanging xD

As for Metallica, they created a lot of their war songs during their thrashy and progressive eras. Songs such as "No Remorse", "Disposable Heroes", "One", etc.. I'm not going to go into full detail with all of them, but I'll speak more about one of them (no pun intended. seriously.)

Found on ...And Justice For All, "One" speaks from the point of view of a war soldier. The soldier lost all his limbs, hearing, sight, and voice supposedly from a landmine during combat. Metallica doesn't get as graphic lyrically with this, but it is a kind of song that still truly speaks out about the horrors of war. And the video to it speaks out even more than just the song alone.


The video tends to make the individual watching imagine how it would be like to be the war soldier. How terrifying and depressing it would be to not know what is going on around you. How you cannot interact. How you can't even tell if you are awake or asleep.

The movie clips used for it were from "Johnny Got His Gun". Before I ever saw the video I never paid special attention to the song, even as a big Metallica fan. But the day I saw it, I literally got goosebumps. It stood out to me a lot more. Not only do I love that song now, I do believe it was an excellent video to be a first for them to create.

in 2012, Jason Newsted (of Metallica, Voivod, Flotsam and Jetsam) was in his band Newsted, and on their only album, titled Heavy Metal Music, resides the song "Soldierhead". I'll let you figure out the rest.


Kickass video really. Pretty graphic though. Sadly, Heavy Metal Music was the only album made by the band.

Alice In Chains put out a song, called "Rooster" from the album, Dirt. This is another that really stood out to me like "One" did, except this one stood out to me from the start. It is another that speaks from a soldier's point of view. The "Rooster" they speak of, is the "walking tall machine gun men". The song was inspired by Jerry Cantrell's father who fought in the Vietnam war. Cantrell told of how the war changed his father completely. His father once said too, how he wishes that no one else would go through what he dealt with in war.


Cantrell's story is pretty relatable for me, because I have a grandpa who also fought in the Vietnam war. He's told me and my mom stories about being involved, but we know for sure that the much more brutal side he doesn't talk about has scarred him for life. He has PTSD luckily not overly severe though. But the war scarred him mentally, and physically.

One of the last I will mention here is "1916", by Motorhead. Found on the 1916 album, and like some of the other songs mentioned above, its in the point of view from a soldier. But this solder is only 16 years old. I remember when I first heard this one, it literally brought tears to my eyes. Still does. This one is surely descriptive about the fighting. I remember it really bothered me when I heard the lyrics:

"I heard my friend cry, and he sank to his knees

Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother,
And I fell by his side, and that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other,
And I lay in the mud and the guts and the blood,
And I wept as his body grew colder,
And I called for my mother and she never came"

That part and the rest of the song doesn't hesitate to invoke painful pictures in your mind.


The song tells of the Battle of Somme. A battle where the British Army dealt with the biggest loss of life in just a single day.

There are many more songs out there that tell about war. Metal and rock bands have done it as a part of speaking out about how truly horrific it is. People can sometimes have mixed reactions about songs like that. There are those who view songs coming from eras of war as ways of propaganda and protest. And we all know well that protest can stir up trouble sometimes when opposing views react.

But when it comes to war itself, there is nothing more bad ass than being tough enough to go into an earthly hell and fight for your country. Especially when you know that you may not survive, or will be scarred for life in some way. So I say to all you veterans out there, thank you. I know however that, there is never enough words that could ever fix what you have dealt with. Thank you, I salute you \m/

Some extra rock & roll and metal songs:



The second song above was influenced by a History Channel program Angus Young saw about war machines used in the Roman and Greek armies.



Look out for my next take, also coming up today! A little story straight from themetalhead herself, about my first concert ever. Stay metal my friends \m/

#warsongs

#themetalhead


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Listen to the basement recording of War Pigs. It's not about War at all. It's more of a horror theme. It's the same instrumentation and the same vocal melody as the one we know, but with different lyrics.
    I love the horror theme in metal just as much as war. Horror would be another great article to cover. It may also let non metal fans in to the heads of metalheads. It let's people know that, no, we're not devil worshippers, we just like the theme and storytelling the music has.

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    • oh man i love the horror theme in metal too! and yeah sometime a couple years ago I heard the early version of War Pigs. I remember thinking "uh wait a sec" cuz of how it was really about witches. I thought it was awesome though XD I may end up doing a take on the horror side sometime

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