Metal > Interzone

Subjects in death metal lyrics

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--- Quote from: dead last on October 28, 2013, 05:43:49 AM ---
--- Quote from: fenrir on October 26, 2013, 09:19:48 PM ---This is a great thread!

A lot of Death Metal in 90s is actually about Power and the unavoidable Death in any form.  As a secondary yet very prolific topic, there is madness/insanity.  Either literal or as a form of desperation caused by either our close-minded and plastic society or your own inner tribulations.

If I remember correctly Suffocation's debut is about Death, and every song taken literally could be read in a tongue-in-cheek manner or could be seen as an attempt to take Death as a real topic, forcing the audience to face it and think about it.

Gorguts sings about death and insanity in their second album, and about power in their fourth album.  I haven't taken a look at Obscura's lyrics.  I should go over them again.

At the Gates writes almost exclusively about introspection and the possible insanity found in certain moments of these journeys into your own mind.  I recommend you go over the excellent lyrics of the first two albums.  I am not familiar with the lyrics of the last two.  Tompa is a great vocalist and lyrics writer, in my opinion.

--- End quote ---

Great observation, my mind just glossed over At the Gates but there are definitely some great lyrics on The Red... Do you know of any other lyrics that express that kind of fear/elation mixed reaction in discovering the ever-present threat of lurking insanity?

Also in what way is power glorified by what specific bands? That's an interesting concept I've not heard a lot of. The only examples I can think of are the boring "I'm gonna kill you" lyrics that retard brutal bands use too regularly.

--- End quote ---

Well, any lyrics that imply domination/conquest of something, are about power. Early Vader would revere the ancients in some of their lyrics.  This adoration, I would say, is also an adoration of the great power these ancients (whoever they are) wielded.  A yearning to obtain a glimpse of that greatness too.  That is combined with an introspection of the self, I think.

--- Quote ---Strange visions dreams my mind,
When I'm walking through the night,
Each time I see the visage of the moon,
Dead cities amongst the sands,
Under the black abyss of seas,
Does madness seize my soul?
The elder race,
From beyond the stars,
Eternal watchers,
Of sphere of no return,
Seven seals,
Of seven mighty gates,
That come true within me.
--- End quote ---
  -- Vader Dark Age

Gorguts does this without the soul-searching aura of Vader, and this particular one is more bent on adoration  of ancients alone:

--- Quote ---Relics captured in stratas
For millennia, have been sleeping
Secrets of buried scriptures
Are whispered through the sound of wind

Kingdoms or dormant splendors
For millenia, have been sinking
Speaches of buried surfaces
Are roaming through the seas of sand

Realms, once back to light
Archa-speaches are told
Realms brought back to sight
Archapolis beholded

Rising the fragments
Signs of previous lives
Told to the present
Lores of ancient times

Unspeakable beauties
Ruins of fabled places
Soiled testimonies
Of ancestor races
--- End quote ---
Gorguts Unearthing the Past

On power alone:

--- Quote ---Gain through terror
Maintained the growth of my empire
Pain caused by anger
Maintained the fall of their empires

Blinding, is, my crown
Fearless, is, my throne
Your land... I will make my own
--- End quote ---
Gorguts The Quest for Equilibrium

Amorphis' The Karelian Isthmus album is about a folk epic.   What are epics but not tales of adventure, worship of the ancient and stories of grandeur and power?

--- Quote ---As the sun falls down
and the swell crashes into the shore

The great warriors of doom and wind
ride high
Silent is the silence,
the only breathing of horses sound,
Cold northern steel, shining blade, pleases us
And we all live under the black mark
--- End quote ---
Amorphis Warrior's Trail

You could go on finding examples of power worship all over heavy metal in general.  But in Death Metal it is a bit more detached, and displayed in a dark tone:

--- End quote ---
  Massacra Apocalyptic Warriors

I like the dark/epic/mystic that Death Metal adds to the atmosphere to the power/adventure/ancient worship themes.

dead last:
Actually have never listened to Vader, though the name appears to me from time to time as I peruse metal resources on the web.

Gorguts lyrics are outstanding for sure, and I have detected a reverence in them for times long past and the person-types that established such majestic and inspiring worlds. I didn't think much of that theme when I posted my initial thoughts. I always felt like the Lovecraft-worhip lyrics were less relevant but along the same lines; recognition of a superior order of beings that were awesome in contrast to the types of world leaders and heroes that we have today. (I guarantee that no metal band in the future will write about the glories of the ancient Western world and its presidents and congressmen.)

Maybe we could generalize and say that this theme is praise of legends and legendary circumstances?

Those Amorphis and Massacra references are new to me as well; I have just started listening to those respective albums (thanks to your torrent) and will pay close attention to the lyrics throughout my next listen.

Arghoslent took power relationships and the worship of strength to a notable level. Check out some lyrics from their 1998 album Galloping Through the Battle Ruins.

"The Banners of Castille"
Spurred on by hope of conquest
Lusting for spice and gold
Into the churning seas
In the frail bark of tiny boats

Embedded in the soil of every continent
The bones of our ancestors lie
Testifying to a higher mandate
Sent down to warring soldiers

In the shadows of our banners
The indigenous bow to their masters
O' mighty winds caress our sails
And take this wrath away

Men of awesome might
Blue blood bred of steel
On cloven hoofs they ride
In the banners of Castile

In the sign of the martyr's cross
We torch the tropic fields
To the windswept shores of gold
With the banners of Castile

For blood and gold
The banners of Castile are raised... "

And here they aren't afraid to take the trope of the ancient and powerful ancestor and attribute to it a notion of GENETIC superiority. Beyond the music is a sort of deified place for progenitors-of-races which realize their potential through the process of conflict through history. Accompanied by the brilliant proud sound of their music, this is practically the best propaganda for the virtue of military might of the post-fascist era.


--- Quote from: Eleison on October 27, 2013, 05:03:48 AM ---Good thread!  One development in metal lyrics that I find interesting is the push towards an almost theological approach in lyrics of bands like Deathspell Omega and similar acts.  Unfortunately their execution (lyrically and musically) is quite poor.  I would hope that future groups can take this idea and improve on it.  One possible example is SVEST, whose album Urfaust is quite brilliant, although I haven't heard their other work.

This may seem like a strange thing to say but I think that finding suitable subject matter for lyrics goes a long way towards creating quality metal.  Once you have found the concepts which inspire you the music comes quite easily in my experience.

--- End quote ---

There seems to be somewhat of a push to de-emphasis lyrics, vocals, album concepts, cover artwork, production etc as some sort of non-essential aesthetic flourish, especially in the newer 'traditional' bands, but I see this as a mistake. Everything from music as notes to how it is presented is going to have an effect on the audience (whether they realize it or not). It is a lost opportunity not to make the most of that.

As for a theological approach to lyrics, my favourite concept would be based around the three marks of existence of Buddhist doctrine, this would completely blow any other death-metal lyrics out of the water. But I'm terrible at writing and I also worry that other elements of the album might be outweighed by the overly intense lyrical concepts. Not saying it couldn't be done, but it would take some very careful treatment.


--- Quote from: dead last on October 28, 2013, 11:02:42 AM ---
Maybe we could generalize and say that this theme is praise of legends and legendary circumstances?

--- End quote ---

Indeed, but it seems to me that different metal genres tend to do this praise in slightly different manners.  I think I mentioned this before, haha.  Power Metal is clearly on the "good guys'" side and constantly praise them.  Speed Metal seems to just point out the evil directly, without selecting a hero.  Death Metal seems to just state things as fact, IMO, and may even take a tone of adoration toward the dark side.


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