The Best anti-war Metal Songs

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

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Ashes of the Wake

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

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Rust in Peace

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

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Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?

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

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Paranoid

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

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Master of Puppets

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

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…And Justice For All

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

Check out next post for the rest of the list.

Sport the War

We love war. We crave the high we get from it. Even the ones who will never have to experience it think it’s a great idea to wage wars. It doesn’t matter which piece of land on this planet we’re going to be bombing into oblivion, but we love that there’ll be bombings. There are a few million people who oppose war; like they did when Bush revealed his plans to reduce Iraq into a festering hellhole. But who’s listening?

No one.

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America, the champion of Democratic values, viciously ignored the anti-war marches held around the world and demonstrated how real Democracy is. The Iraq war was broadcasted live worldwide; just like the Super Bowl. This wasn’t the first war to be televised, that title goes to Vietnam, but the spectacle here was captivating. We saw large military helicopters and aircrafts fly across the Iraqi airspace; dropping bombs and showering Baghdad with bullets. The explosions were captured on camera and played on repeat. We could see on our television screens the damage being done, but we could never fathom the havoc being wreaked.

The reason we love war is simple; war is a sport. It’s a team sport. And it’s, mostly, restricted to men. There are different sides in this sport, sometimes multiple players, and there are rules. There are umpires and referees too. If you break too many of these rules, like overseeing an ethnic cleansing or using rape as a weapon, you may be tried in the International Court of Justice and then die peacefully at the age of 90 knowing your people remember you as a hero. Regular sports have heroes too. Every sport has its own equipment and gears; in the case of war it’s automatic weapons, tanks, bomber planes. In the end, there’s a winner and a loser, and the winners cheer and gloat and sing with an aggressive fervour.

No sporting event is possible without sponsors. War, too, has its sponsors. These corporations are more powerful than Nike or Adidas could ever hope to be. They pour money into the war-making machine and reap profit. The only difference here is that you don’t see tanks with Lockheed Martin stamped on its side, or men with guns having Halliburton’s logo stitched across their shirt pockets. That surely would bring more truth into this grand sporting culture humanity has spawned over centuries.

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The ease with which we scream war isn’t surprising. Wars have contributed greatly to popular culture. It is as much a part of our existence as pop music or McDonald’s, or sports. The depiction of war, even in anti-war movies, has numbed us to the devastation it causes, leaving us to view war as nothing but an act of assertion over the enemy. It provides us with a rare feeling of power trip. We’ve already been fed to the machine, isn’t it better to move forward knowing the truth about where the real interests of wars lie?

The sport is war.