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Most Sad Metal Songs
10. Black Label Society – In This River
Zakk Wylde wrote this song a few months before his good friend, Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott, was shot and killed by a deranged fan named Nathan Gale when Abbott was performing with his band Damage Plan. Wylde subsequently dedicated the song to Abbott; a fitting tribute as the song deals with death. In our interview with Zakk Wylde, he said that Abbott was one of his favorite songwriters and guitarists. “I always tell everybody what Dime’s legacy is,” he said. “Tony Iommi created that whole genre of music, then Dime and the guys took the Sabbath thing and added gasoline. He added nitrous to it and created his own new thing.”
09. Demons & Wizards – Fiddler on the Green
Fiddler’s Green is a legendary supposed afterlife, where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing, and dancers who never tire. In 19th-century maritime folklore it was a kind of afterlife for sailors who have served at least 50 years at sea.
08. Judas Priest -Here Come the Tears
Here Come The Tears with a slightly wimpy title. Is like this a song that inspired Nightwish for Deep Silent Complete. It’s a very natural heavy buildup, with a compelling sense of melody. “Here Come The Tears” have never been performed live according to available sources, although documentation of earlier Priest tour setlists is very poor.
07. Pantera – Floods
A Pantera classic, this song is about a flood that comes along and ends mankind. It’s an allusion to the biblical flood from the book of Genesis, which is part of the Noah’s Ark story – God was essentially disappointed with his creations and wanted to start fresh.
Pantera frontman/lyricist Phil Anselmo covers two themes here: religion and the value of life. He equates the great flood with modern times, questioning if mankind deserves another reckoning for its sins.
6. Motorhead – 1916
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister wrote this song after watching a UK television program about the 1916 Battle of the Somme on which a veteran reminisced about his friend dying in his arms with half his face blown off.
“It came to me in a flash,” he said. “The old guy is 88 all something, and he’s still in tears about it. He walked through 25 feet of muddy s–t into the teeth of machine gun fire, all for nothing: 19,000 Englishmen killed before. Think! All those lives. And some bastard on a white horse probably got a medal for it too. You can imagine the bastards can’t you? Back at the club.”
05. Death – Voice of the Soul
“Voice of the Soul” is a three and a half minute long instrumental. It consists merely of a beautiful acoustic melody and layered lead guitar. It is somewhat minimalistic in regard to the instruments used, but with only guitars, a lot is accomplished in the way of creating a grandiloquent atmosphere. Easily the best song on the album, there is no understating what the listener will feel in this.
04. Pantera – Suicide Note Pt. 1
The songs’ lyrics describe suicide attempts, namely slitting of the wrist. Pt.I talks in particular about drug use whereas Pt. II features lyrics of someone determined to take their life by gunshot. However, if one listens closely during the chorus of the song the lyrics state ‘Don’t you try to die like me, it’s livid and it’s lies’ which appears to be an attempt to dissuade anyone from the act of suicide portraying it as cowardice and evil.
03. Judas Priest – Beyond the Realms of Death
The song describes a man who suffers from depression and enters into a pseudo-catatonic state, which gives the outward appearance of a comatose state, in that it essentially renders the body physically immobile whilst leaving inner thought processes intact in an almost ‘locked-in’ fashion. He eventually dies, possibly by his own hand due to the state he was essentially locked in, so he is once more released from the chains of life. Furthermore, other lines in the song suggest an anti-suicidal message. The song was mentioned in a 1990 trial in which the parents of two teens who had committed suicide after listening to Stained Class alleged that subliminal messages encouraging suicide had been hidden in another song on the album. In a telephone interview with The New York Times at the time, Halford confirmed that the song carries and anti-suicidal message, discussing how people suffering from depression withdraw from society and refuse to communicate.
02. Metallica – One
“One” is an anti-war song that portrays a World War I soldier who is severely wounded—Arms and legs blown off from an artillery shell, blind and unable to speak or move—begging God to take his life as he feels constant pain. His only hope is to devise a way to communicate with the hospital staff. In the music video, he jolts in the hospital bed, spelling “Kill me” in Morse code. Production of the song was done by the band alongside Flemming Rasmussen.
The song is based on the idea of a soldier losing all of his limbs and being unable to hear, speak, or see, set to a World War I backdrop.
01. Metallica – Fade to Black
The song’s lyrics address suicidal feelings. It begins with an acoustic guitar introduction and becomes progressively heavier as the song goes on, similar to their future songs, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, “One”, and “The Day That Never Comes”.
James Hetfield commented on the song in a 1991 interview with Guitar World:
That song was a big step for us. It was pretty much our first ballad, so we knew it would freak people out… Recording that song, I learned how frustrating acoustic guitar can be. You could hear every squeak, so I had to be careful. I wrote the song at a friend’s house in New Jersey. I was pretty depressed at the time because our gear had just been stolen, and we had been thrown out of our manager’s house for breaking shit and drinking his liquor cabinet dry. It’s a suicide song, and we got a lot of flak for it, as if kids were killing themselves because of the song. But we also got hundreds of letters from kids telling us how they related to the song and that it made them feel better.