Heavy Metal music has been used for torturing prisoners in Iraq, Yemen and in the Guantanamo Bay. This technique of torturing inmates, who allegedly have ties to terrorist organisations, is not a new phenomena. The musical genres used for this purpose is not restricted to heavy metal. Hip-hop, pop, and even the theme music of The Barney Show and Sesame Street has been used to torture inmates in various prisons operated by the United States. Bands like Metallica, Slayer and Drowning Pool have had their music used extensively in the torture process. Metallica’s Enter Sandman was said to be blasted on repeat for hours at a prison on the Iraqi-Syrian border. But the favourite track of the interrogators is Deicide’s Fuck Your God; a track so heavy, fast and brutal that it would break anyone after being played on repeat for days.
But there are artists who object to their music being used as a torture device by the U.S. Military. There are Metal tracks that are explicitly anti-war. We’ll take a look at the 10 best and most memorable anti-war Heavy Metal songs:
1. ‘Now You’ve Got Something to Die For’ by Lamb of God
The second single from Lamb of God’s forth studio album Ashes of the Wake is a powerful anti-war message over groovy guitar riffs and heavy drumming. Singer Randy Blythe screams the lyrics out in a way for you to catch the words the best you can. Released in 2004, Ashes of the Wake went on to become the band’s most successful album and the song is now a staple in their live sets.
Notable Lyric: Bombs to set the people free / Blood to feed the dollar tree / Flags for coffins on the screen / Oil for the machine / Army of liberation / Gunpoint indoctrination / The fires of sedation fulfil the prophecy.
2 & 3. ‘Peace Sells’ and ‘Holy Wars… The Punishment Due’ by Megadeth
Released at the time of the first Gulf War, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due from Megadeth’s album ‘Rust in Peace’, is arguably the band’s most well-known song. The lyrics deal with the Northern Ireland conflict, and the music video is a montage of news footage of war coverage. Since its release, the track has become a regular in anti-war playlists.
Notable Lyric: They killed my wife and my baby / With hopes to enslave me / First mistake, last mistake / Paid by the alliance, to slay all the giants / Next mistake, no more mistakes
This Megadeth song, with its iconic bass line, packs an unusual and powerful punch. The track is from the band’s second studio album ‘Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?’, which is also their most political album till date. The lyrics deal with the profiteering from war and everyone’s rejection of peace for a continued state of strife and conflict.
Notable Lyric: What do you mean, “I couldn’t be the President
Of the United States of America”? / Tell me something, it’s still “We the people, ” right? / If there’s a new way / I’ll be the first in line / But it better work this time /Can you put a price on peace?
4. ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath
From the Godfathers of Heavy Metal, Black Sabbath, came a song back in 1970 about witches and the Vietnam war. Taken from the album ‘Paranoid’, the song deals with the ill-effects of war and references the American administration and their decision to wage a war on Vietnam. One of the first memorable anti-war song, it is counted amongst the greatest heavy metal track in history.
Notable Lyric: Politicians hide themselves away / They only started the war / Why should they go out to fight? / They leave that role to the poor
5 & 6. ‘One’ and ‘Disposable Heroes’ by Metallica
Master of Puppets is one of the most important release in rock music history. The songs on the album are important not only because of the composition, but also for the lyrical content. Disposable Heroes, as the name suggests, is about a young solider whose fate is controlled by his superiors. This is most intense track on the record, and that’s saying something when the same record has songs like ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Battery’.
Notable Lyric: Soldier boy, made of clay / Now an empty shell / Twenty one, only son / But he served us well / Bred to kill, not to care / Do just as we say / Finished here, greetings death / He’s yours to take away
The anti-war song by Metallica that everyone who knows of the band has definitely heard is ‘One”. The song is from Metallica’s thrashiest album, ‘… And Justice For All”. It is about a young solider who has lost his sight, limbs and hands in the first World War. He contemplates what his life has become because of senseless wars. The fast-paced drumming, the machine-gun guitars, and the heavy bass makes this song have an impact that very few anti-war songs have.
Notable Lyric: Darkness imprisoning me / All that I see absolute horror / I cannot live / I cannot die / Trapped in myself / Body my holding cell / Landmine has taken my sight / Taken my speech / Taken my hearing / Taken my arms / Taken my legs / Taken my soul / Left me with life in hell