Washington Think Tank: What’s Your Favorite Lyrical Subject?

Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. These three lyrical topics are the foundations of rock-based music, but if we peer a bit beneath the surface, we’ll find a particularly rich cornucopia of different subjects, especially in metal. From war to suicide to zombies to religion to industrialization to elves to quantum singularities and everywhere in between, there is no lyrical stone left unturned in metal. Though many of these topics are partitioned within specific subgenres, anyone who truly wants to find a specific lyrical topic within a specific subgenre can surely do so. Today’s Think Tank is a celebration of this rich diversity that’s there to be found should you seek it. The world thinks we only listen to music about death and violence. Let’s prove them wrong.

Today’s Question: What’s your favorite lyrical subject?

Even just looking at newer releases this year, we can find a bounty of diverse topics in some unexpected places. Death metal, long held by the public to be the realm of schlock and horror movie imagery, has been molded into a nuanced tale of political commentary in Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s most recent (and well-received) work King. On “In Aeternum,” the band grapples with the historical precedent of the divine right to rule and the inherent justice (or lack thereof) in a monarchical system.

Black metal may often be the realm of religious commentary or mythological exploration, but last year’s contentious Isolate by Mesarthim strode a much different (and celestial path). Space is more often the uncharted reaches within which tech death bands experiment and craft their miniature galaxies, but the introspective Australians adopted the void as their own, plumbing its depths as a foil of the vast expanse of emptiness and emotional waste within each of us. If that’s too atmospheric and thoughtful for you, there’s also the cold, xenomorphic aether of Darkspace.

Even power metal, the dominion of high fantasy and swords’n’sorcery has grown much in recent years. Though the majority of releases in this subgenre still tend to focus on distinctly Tolkien-friendly topics, Judicator‘s epic At the Expense of Humanity took a more science-fiction oriented tack, probing the depths of human identity in the face of the impending technological singularity and the loss of self that will ensue. In a world of collective consciousness, what is the value of a soul?

So now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite lyrical approach? Do you prefer to swing your sword and charge into glorious battle, or do you abide by a distinct KISS rule (Keep it Satan, stupid)? More than just the what, though, tell me the why? Does the sci-fi approach act as an effigy upon which you crucify your fears of modernization? Do you seek a Milton-ian path of independence and free will?

For my part, I tend to prefer lyrics that delve into mankind’s rich tradition of mythology. Perhaps these stories make me feel connected to the great men of the past who exulted the most virtuous characteristics of their societies. Or maybe I’m just a big dork. Either one.

Don’t know what the Washington Think Tank is? This is a periodic column where your former President poses a pressing question and allows the top minds at the Toilet ov Hell to investigate his query.

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Published on: March 28, 2016

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  • Personally, lyrics do very little for me. The music is always paramount to me. I enjoy handful of Gojira lyrics, but the rest of my favorite artists are not worth even looking up.

    RIFFS>>>

    GL

    • Hubert

      RIFFS

    • Maik Beninton™

      I appreciate LP’s lyrics with all of my teenage angst.

      • Guacamole Jim

        SHUT UP

        SHUT UP

        SHUT UP

        SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          CRAAAAAAAAWLING IN MY SKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN

        • CyberneticOrganism
          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            In my opinion: worst part in the history of music ever.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            You’re not wrong.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            The worst band to ever come out of Chicago.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Because you’re head strong, ready to take on anyone?

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      I have slowly started to become the same way, which is weird for someone who is obsessed with words. I hardly even look into what lyrics are saying anymore, but it still massively important that they are there and sound awesome.

  • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

    mine and yours pretty similar, i imagine, W.

    1)the woods, the fields
    2)aliens
    3)satan
    4)feels
    5)heathen stuff

    • Dubs

      I think a reason mythology resonates with me too is because it reveals the evolution of philosophy and other tensions experienced by cultures.

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        it also ties us back to our roots

        • brokensnow

          and has dragons and stuff.

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    I enjoy lyrics about Heavy Metal.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™
    • Lacertilian

      PSYCROPTIC – ‘Psycrology’

      I watch as you thrash your heads, bowing to a god called metal!

      I hear your excited cries – your shouts as if he is speaking within you

      The army approaches the battle site.

      Sound – versus – auricle.

      The group is surrounded by walls that embrace

      The tumultuous harmony and then fend it off

      into enchanted throng

      waves of hair it crashes –

      onto a grindingshore….valour….

      We all fear the day a time we hope will be years away

      Inspection of reflection, recession of hair assaults vision

      A balding crown, it meets your eye

      screams ring out as you face the sky

      Only those, who did choose, to grow their locks

      Have this maniacal type trepidation.

      …And when not meeting to receive the aural abuse

      Worship does not end!

      Each devotee has his own eclectic bible

      Some with more volumes than the next

      Many have similar source of inspiration

      Although there are naught that are identical.

      Any of those outside the brotherhood shalt not

      Understand our ways and we should not expect this

      Not until the day when darkness and light are truly one

      This is not bad for we do not need them!

      …Our….will…is…our own…

      We are already in a situation that’s inflamed

      mainstream censors

      Fuck you megalomaniacs – we can thrive without you.

      We may not have your money or your health

      But we are free from greed, our intrinsic sociology

      We don’t need your money – or input!

      There are many half-breeds who are not enlightened,

      Those who understand but do not love

      Those who see, understand, but do not feel.

      We accept them, and in many cases support those of half-light

      But they shall never visit out inner sanctum.

      This shall be kept so precious, such is the disturbing delight,

      Giving us light when its dark

      helping us to find where our misgivings lie.

      Giving us dreams and support, source of oneiric omniscience

      Helping us challenge each plight

      selecting and directing our precipitous lives.

      ……I suffer adrenaline crimes…its metal that makes me so high!

      I scream as I thrash my head, bowing to me god…..

      So….honour – metals – pride!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycx9s8UMjDI

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        Hell yes! That will do!

  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    This should come as no surprise to anyone, but Pyrrhon is one of my favorite acts as far as lyrics go. A lot of their lyrics are about the realistic modern horrors of living through different topics.

    • >Ed
      >Pyrrhon
      >favorite

      News to me.

      • Ever heard of this band Swans? Pretty underground stuff

        • Dubs

          “I’m going to put them on this weekend when I go in to work.”

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          I’m a garbage person.

    • That’s about the only thing I like about Pyrrhon. : /

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Sad, Richter.

        • Downvote me to oblivion….

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            No way! I reserve slingin’ downvotes at wildly off topic clowns, lol

    • Hubert

      Agreed

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        SKRONK

        • Hubert

          SKRONKSKRONKSKRONK

  • I like lyrics about overcoming adversity and staying positive. Or, alternatively, lyrics about being a violent goon.

  • Rho Stone

    I prefer it when artists choose a subtext and then build up lyrics that can be opened up for interpretation but revolve around that subtext. But that requires a lot of time and effort so it doesn’t happen often, but when it does… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSUdD3z-XMc

  • nbm02ss

    On one hand I love lyrical content that gives us a glimpse into the writer’s psyche (video link), but at the same time Buzz Osborne writes nothing but gibberish and I fucking love the Melvins. Conundrum.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_GPxe91hWE

    • Dubs

      Mike Patton has said that he chooses lyrics based more on the sounds of the words than anything else.

      • The ol’ Anthony Kiedis School of Nonsense Scat Sounds About Southern California.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          I’ve always pictured Anthony Kiedis flipping through a thesaurus when he’s writing lyrics.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Sounds like something Mike Patton would say

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      LOS TICKA TOE REST!

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Alice in Chains always makes me want to go out and buy a gargantuan bag of heroin.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      Another great band that sings in nothing but gibberish:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_Tj4bJ0VFw

  • Hubert
    • CyberneticOrganism

      Featured comment.

      • Guacamole Jim

        Featured comment.

    • Knew this was coming from SOMEONE. Though I didn’t expect it from you.

      • Dubs

        If there had been a wager, I would have put 100% down on this gif and the comment “Satan” appearing as responses.

  • A variation on the ol’ “drinkin’ & thinkin'”…

    DRINKIN’ & REVENGE

  • Spear

    That’s kind of a tricky one for me to answer. I like diversity in subject matter, so there’s not really any particular lyrical theme that I latch onto more than others. It’s more the quality of the lyrics that matters to me than their content; if it’s well-written, I’m probably going to get into it.

    That said, Legend of Zelda songs >>>>>>>>>>>
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er5im23H0SY

  • tigeraid

    A post containing Iced Earth and Judicator? W, you have won my heart.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
  • tigeraid

    But, less I trample on Rand’al’s GUARANTEED answer: Tolkien, obv.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bDVPLDppvE

  • I don’t have much room to talk in this discussion given that I look at maybe 1 in 50 lyrics sheets for every album I listen to, but I’ve always liked lyrics and songs that are based off something from another medium, like literature or film or even videogames (this happens less often). Barring that, trees ‘n’ shit are pretty cool.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg92QpjRcJk

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      You bring up a really good point. I actually don’t know the lyrics to a shit ton of the bands I listen to regularly.

      • Dubs

        That’s probably true for most of us.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          You probably know more about the lyrics than most of us, as you’ve written about lyrics for acts several times for this very site.

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Boobs and dicks, obviously.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE60Npeyx6s

    Except for you pornogrind bands out there. You definitely need to step out of the basement, stop jerking off to Philosophy Of A Knife, and get laid sometime.

  • Jom Pootersan

    I pay attention to lyrical concepts vaguely as a way to enhance the musical experience. For example, I couldn’t tell you the lyrics to every Inquisition or Nuclearhammer song, but casually reading and knowing those bands are space-themed provides a certain type of atmosphere to me, if that makes sense.

    TLDR version; nerd, nerd NERD

  • Dubs

    Several of you have brought up a good point. None of us probably read the lyrics to every song we like, so perhaps our perceptions are shaped as much (if not more) by the general theme, album art, and accompanying visual presentations.

    • Lacertilian

      Listen to instrumental music: Quandary solved.

  • Spear

    Oh, and anything about riding into battle for the glory of Odin.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2cZlLrVP7E

  • Salvador Dalí Lama

    I enjoy lyrics that explore psychology and the human condition. Or exploring religious concepts on a metaphysical level like Deathspell Omega. Also; I really like weird, out there, surrealist lyrics that have no clear meanings (I.E. David Bowie’s “Black Star”).

    That’s also my Tinder bio, by the way.

  • Vault Dweller

    Personal Growth. There’s no shame in having demons and flaws, there’s only shame in refusing to face ’em.

  • Being sad is the only thing that is real.

  • The Tetrachord of Archytas

    im probably misquoting, but I feel like there’s something ringo said about John Lennon that was something like, he could say in one lyric what other people needed an entire song to say. I think lyrics can kinda be like riffs especially with the way we consume media. So people treat the parts that mean something as the parts that matter.

  • Leif Bearikson

    War, Systemic Injustice, and overcoming adversity. Early Metallica was great for the first two and Pantera was great for the last.

    Of course I’m also a sucker for Satan, witchcraft and vengeance.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Well in a lot of cases lyrics do matter. I remember listening to Coffinworm and thinking they sound quite cool…until I read some of the lyrics. Fucking hell, those lyrics are atrocious.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      In that case, think about what would have happened had you never read the lyrics.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I probably would’ve kept on enjoying it. I mean, I still do enjoy their sound. They bring the murk hard. But the lyrics they write are literally some of the worst I’ve read.

  • Guacamole Jim

    It’s hard to say whether or not I actually have a favourite subject, lyrically, but for me to take the lyrics seriously, I ask that they come from a serious place, not just bullshit tacked together because it worked rhythmically.

    I guess it’d be easier to say what I don’t like:

    1. Big, confusing words for the sake of big, confusing words. We all know you don’t use those words in everyday conversation.
    2. Excessive brutality/shock. That shit had a time and a place – they’re both done with now. Nothing you have to say is shocking anymore, you’re just a cliche. Same goes with “SATAN” for the most part.
    3. Egocentrism. While I appreciate honesty in lyrics, all lyricists need to understand their experiences are not universal, and I probably don’t care all that much about how great their life is/how awful their life is. Engage me.
    4. As I mentioned above, rhythmically crafted words. I understand you’ve gotta fit into the song, but putting words in poor order, or shouting random non sequiturs doesn’t make sense, and usually leads to me dismissing the lyrics entirely.

    All that being said, I think what I want out of lyrics is for the lyricist to write openly, honestly, and with care. Don’t fall into cliches, don’t write the same lyrics everyone else has written. There’s a world of experience out there, and I want to engage you with yours. Take some time and express that.

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      When it comes to #3, I am getting rather tired of bands having songs about “the touring life.”

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Even ‘We Are The Road Crew’ ?!?!?!?

        • YourLogicIsFlushed

          …That song was released 11 years before I was born, I am too much of a wee-child to comment on such things.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            It’s Motorhead, that’s all you need to know. 😉

      • CyberneticOrganism

        ALCOHAAAAUUULIN’ ASS! YEAH K’MAWN!

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    • Pentagram Sam

      Agree on all of these hard, but #1 is a real big ass GTFO one for me. When it feels like they’re using big 20 dollar words for the sake of pretension, I peace out.

  • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

    Chuck Schuldiner wrote some amazingly thought-provoking lyrics, and I’m usually a riffs first kinda guy. Philosophical, introspective, and heavy. I feel that Mike Scheidt of Yob also fills a similar niche, for me at least.

    Edit: I’m also a sucker for lyrics based on history both ancient and modern(Iron Maiden), mythology and war (Amon Amarth) and some fantasy. Also Dopesmoker.

    • Dubs

      I tend to be a “more of the sound of the vocals than the message” kind of guy, but if you’re just screaming pointless profanity, I imagine your music is as dumb as your lyrics.

      • BobLoblaw

        Its always nice when those proclivities match up with some imaginitive non cookie cutter lyrics though.

        • Dubs

          There are legitimate uses, certainly, but they often just make the whole product sound childish.

          • BobLoblaw

            I was saying its nice when a really good vocalist is singing something worth knowing too (Ihsahn, Chuck Schuldiner, Dennis Rondum and Fredrik Schalen come to mind) I cringe at most expletives.

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Oh yeah, Mike Scheidt is a great lyricist.

  • EsusMoose

    Time both the subject and dealing with its passing, things with strong or weird imagery so concept albums are great to me, High energy lyrics, also lyrics that just deal with sad topics. I do fall into the group that lyrics are very much an afterthought of listening to a record if the lyrics aren’t easily distinguishable.

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      Ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day…

      • Guacamole Jim

        You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
        Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
        Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          You the man, Guac Jim.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      All that in a nutshell (except for the high energy part):

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktFN8kfCiqk
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncIFRhOQ4vQ

  • Brock Samson

    The lyrics to this were my favorite from last year. I enjoy philosophical lyrics that dwell into religion and the human condition. Deathspell Omega lyrics also are very enticing due to coming to multiple conclusions as to exactly what the song is about.

    https://youtu.be/1BqGgqyfLCs

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I enjoyed all of the lyrics from Exercises In Futility I was able to make out.

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        this, ed

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    I like lyrics to be philosophical, but not very many bands tend to do that well. Death, Angra, VNV Nation and Project Pitchfork definitely come to mind, but I’d have to flip through my mental Rolodex of bands to think of many others.

    Worst, most crammed together lyrics I’ve heard in a long time: Alicia Key’s ‘Girl Is On Fire’. From the moment I heard ‘she’s just a girl and she’s on fire’, I knew it was downhill from there, along with the annoying as fuck chorus being slam-fucked into the song repeatedly. It’s one of her few bad songs though, since her stuff is usually pretty top notch.

    And I hate hearing good cop/bad cop vocalists yelling about “MY PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!”.

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Cephalic Carnage took a stab at those “good cop/bad cop” vocals.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1H1NG5yxeg

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        I’m afraid to look!

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      When it comes to radio pop, a few years ago, I swear Katy Perry and Pink were having a cliche-off. Single after single, their songs were just terrible idiomatic phrase after idiomatic phrase. I thought the world was ending.

      • Dubs

        “Why so serious?”

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Rihanna’s even worse. It’s like her lyrics are a rhyme scheme written by a 6 year old with a thesaurus addiction.

  • Brock Samson

    Then again, when I am feeling like an emo turd, I do enjoy some Type-O or Woods of Ypres

    https://youtu.be/tx6ytLi1VfY

    • Dubs
      • Leif Bearikson

        Drag that fucking weight, man

        • Old Man Doom

          PUSH THAT MOUNTAIN INTO THE SEA! UGH!

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      Cool thing about Type O is that they made such catchy songs often with super dark lyrics

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    For me, music first, lyrics second. When deciding what lyrics I like best I have to look at the genre I’m listening to. As Joe said earlier, i enjoy the positive attitude, overcoming adversity of Hardcore and as Spear and a few others have mentioned, riding into battle for glory and mythology of Power and Melodeath. If the lyrics were swapped for the two styles, I couldnt take either as seriously. Could you imagine Sick of it All or Bad Brains singing about ancient battlefields and axes? And on the opposite side, Blind Guardian or Iced Earth singing about New York street life and social disorder? For me, it’s all about my mood.

    But I’m always in the mood for a song with Heavy Metal in the title and senseless lyrics about our favorite music.

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      Bad Brains or SOIA would sound awesome singing about that! Or how’s about Cro Mags singing about rescuing princesses, or The Exploited singing about unicorns and wizards? Or Youth Of Today singing Rhapsody’s ‘Village Of Dwarves’?

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        Dammit. You just had to go a poke holes in my statement. That would be kinda cool, not gonna lie.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Definitely not poking holes into it, I think you just came up with a whole new genre! The hard life street lessons of hardcore, but with unicorns and dragons.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Hahahahha!

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            And kids at the concerts could do windmills, but with plastic swords, and skankin’ while pumping their wizard staffs in the air.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I’m sold.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            We’ll call it DragonCore.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Naturally

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        On the flipside, Blind Guardian singing Banned in DC or Scratch the Surface to their orchestral music wouldn’t work too well.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Speak for yourself! I’d love to hear Nightwish cover all of The Exploited’s ‘The Massacre’, or Twilight Force covering Cock Sparrer’s ‘Shock Troops’.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Haha! Alrighty then.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Lol, or Tyr singing hardcore punk lyrics.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Damn, that would be fun.

    • Max

      “But I’m always in the mood for a song with Heavy Metal in the title and senseless lyrics about our favorite music.”

      Judas Priest is the band for you.

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        You are correct!

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    LMFAO @ the song title and lyrics (love this band though), especially “Securing the throne with the sperm that we need”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G1lu27SrJY

    The Mountain of Goats I shall reign

    A sight where hate gains

    A sight where evil reigns

    The mountain of Goats

    Under the sign of the Devil

    Chanting our song to reach a new level

    Preparing a kingdom worthy a throne

    Seated by me, me alone

    With rape as means I’ll breed

    Securing the throne with the sperm that we need

    My throne will survive with terror and fear

    Constant aware that the traitors are near

    A path of evil a river of blood

    Shed for me because I’m God

    Unleash the Devil within me

    All this for me because I am the King

    Read more: Windir – On The Mountain Of Goats Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    • EsusMoose

      I feel that has almost nothing to do with the majesty of the terrestrial goat and therefore is bad.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Goats get a bad rap in metal. There’s gotta be a band out there that does metal and just sings about walking the hillside with their goat, Juan Valdez style. “Tin Cans Decimated By Goat Jaws” or something like that.

        • EsusMoose

          Singing about normal goat activities and sharing goat family memories with willing listeners.

        • more beer

          Juan Valdez had llamas.

  • Scrimm

    Horror

  • Óðinn
    • Óðinn
    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      LOLFUCKINGBUTTZ!!!!!!!!

      • Óðinn

        The lyrics for that song are spot on.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          Perhaps, but few bands bring out the GAH! in me.

          • Óðinn

            Well, we can’t like everything.

  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      Excellent lyrics all throughout that CD.

  • Dave Vincent’s Perm

    Satan.

  • Óðinn
  • COAL ROLL

    never ever ever ever getting back together

  • CyberneticOrganism

    I pay more attention to the overall vibe of the song than I do lyrics, but if I had to guess… I’d say ye olde pagan ways (i.e., Moonsorrow), trees & cults & shit (buncha different black metal), and the complete failure of the human race (all over the place).

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Also the idea of unknown gods and deities of which we’re simply not aware. A lot of that is filed under Lovecraft, but dark ambient stuff like Host and Lustmord seem to hint at more imposing entities deep in slumber.

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      I support this message.

    • i like mystical bands, but i also don’t pay attention to lyrics. so to me, if a band claims to be mystical and/or magical (Ethernal, Absu, Blut Aus Nord) i feel cooler and smarter listening to them.
      for example: a girl at my gym saw my Ethernal shirt with a bunch of symbols on it and said it was “really cool”. i had no idea what to tell her they meant, so i just said “mythical black metal” and she was like “niiiiiiiiiiiice!”

    • CT-12

      This has nothing to do with your original comment, but just thought you’d maybe dig these guys. Something’s been oddly pulling me into it and I’m not even much of a soundscapey industrial guy. https://screamingsun.bandcamp.com/album/temp-album

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Cool, thanks man I’ll check them out while I work tonight!

        • CT-12

          Woot!

  • JWEG

    I’ve never really given serious thought about whether or not I even have lyrical preferences. If any, I’d imagine they’d align with my preferences toward literature:

    – weird fiction, the more Lovecraftian the better
    – medieval literature (including untranslated Old English, Latin, Icelandic)
    – “hard” science fiction
    – comic fantasy, like Tom Holt & Christopher Moore

    I can certainly see parallels in my metal collection; though not as much as if it were an intentional thing. It suggests, instead, that I really am more into Metal for the sound of it – even if it just sounds like banging a trash can with an axe.

    Reference:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEHZOaNpURw

    (wildly inaccurate, but still funny)

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      I like all these things. All prevalent in Doom.

      • JWEG

        There is tons of variety in the subgenre, indeed. I’ve even found Doom with influence by Cascadian/atmospheric black metal, my other primary sub(sub)genre preference. Lyrical content there tends to sound like it’s narrating a nature walk through the Pacific Northwest.

        I’ve got a bunch of those books on my shelf, too, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that a “literary” or “lyrical” preference.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I think I prefer lyrics with a personal depth. And I don’t mean singing ’bout hiw miserable your life is, but something you can stand behind – lyrics crafted in a way that feels as if their writer had a connection with the subject matter – lyrics that mattered.
    Hell, it can be Tolkien 101, as long as I can feel the writers love of the subject matter, as much as it can be about your brother’s death.
    Just don’t throw random shock and gore on top of it and call it a day.

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      Quite a few have brought up that many of us don’t really know the lyrics to our favorite songs. I think this might also be one of the reasons I prefer what I do.
      If they feel meaningful, they’re more likely to connect in my head to the song than random noises thrown on top of crap.
      Lyrics that resonate with the song are more likely to feel a part of it, despite the subject matter.

    • Imaginations from the Other Side is one of the heaviest and most touching pieces of lyrical work I’ve read, and it’s literally nothing but fantasy and literature references

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Stuff about dope works as well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I625zPMQ4r4

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      This song gets me so pumped whenever I hear it

  • J.R.™

    Trees’n’shit

  • When good lyrics stand out in heavy music, that elevates them to another level for me. Cursed has some fantastic lyrics on “Hell Comes Home”. The song is basically about war for oil and every word has meaning and purpose. So yeah I like socio-political lyrics mainly.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n5ykwB0TipU

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    In general I can dig most sorts of lyrical content, as long as its reasonably thought out. I tend to be most attracted by a sci fi or otherwise weird fiction influence though.

  • Max

    It’s a boring answer, but for me the greatest metal lyricist of all time is Jeff Walker.

    I got into Carcass when I was only just starting to seriously get into metal, and the entire package of that band’s lyrics and imagery really, really blew me away. I’d always vaguely known that metal bands had a fixation for gory subject matter along with the Satanism; but what Carcass did was definitely a step beyond that.

    The lyrics were so violent and clinically gory that in a strange way, they actually weren’t violent or gory at all. There was no reference to exactly who the victim was, what the perpetrator’s motives were, or any other context – “Satanic”, “horror”, political or otherwise – not even the much-vaunted vegetarian aspect of the band was necessarily getting a look-in. It came off, as so many have said, like reading a medical textbook that happened to be violent.

    It stands, to this day, as possibly the most unique lyrical contribution to heavy metal that has ever been made in my opinion – all the more so because it’s dealing in a subject area – i.e. gore – that is hardly unique within metal, then or now. The only other band I can think of who so completely own their own little corner of the lyrical universe to the same degree as early Carcass would be Nile with their Egyptology theme.

    All that said, I don’t think I actually have a favourite lyrical theme for metal music. Lyrics are always secondary for me – and I’ve never been one of those people who can’t listen to a band with great music if bad cover art or mediocre lyrics “ruin it” – so the diversity of subject matter to be found within the genre suits me fine.

    But I do find it really interesting the way it’s all developed so that – as W points out in his post – certain sub-genres or bands monopolize certain subject matters. Many people see that as a cliche-ridden drawback, or as a sign of a lack of inspiration; but I never have. To me there’s actually something heroic about a Deicide or a Cannibal Corpse mining the same lyrical trench song after song, album after album. It really helps to assert their identity.

    • Dagon

      Great answer. It’s a pretty over the top medical book, considering a lot of their “terms” are made up to be more extravagant than what’s out there in real doctor vocab. That just makes it more interesting. I’m specializing in Pathology and the lyrics to Psychopathologist make me laugh even more now.

  • Old Man Doom

    Aliens. Fucking aliens. Terrified of ’em and I love bands certain bands that explore Area 51, Roswell, all of those conspiracies. Conspiracy theories in general really tickle my pickle as well.

    I’ve been meaning to do a Lyric Corner article on High On Fire’s “The Sunless Years” for this reason. I know many people have been either called out Matt Pike for his conspiracy rants or just called him crazy, but I honestly love that he’s incorporating it into his music. If anything, the lyrics really just point out that there is something generally “wrong” with our society, and that in and of itself is important. Whether it’s chem-trails or just plain old greed and ignorance doesn’t matter. I think Pike is just calling for a revolution of thought all the same. There’s my rant.

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      PLEASE DO THIS!

      • Old Man Doom

        It’s definitely on my list, Boss.

    • Man, most of my childhood nightmares come from aliens invasions!

  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • Dagon

    PURPLE DRANK

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      The only answer

  • brokensnow

    For me? loss, identity, self discovery,depression, the struggle that is life/existence, cannibalism, isolation,the inner workings of the mind, assimilation, the corruption of everything pure, just to name a few.

    • Dubs

      Cannibalism is an interesting one to throw in there. Did you include it because of its implications of an alternative moral system?

      • brokensnow

        why not both?

  • Eliza

    I tend to have an interest songs that delve into mythology themes, but I can get into songs that deal with certain human emotions, like pain or misery too. Anyway, those are not all the themes that I enjoy, just the ones I could think of at the top of my head.

  • I was missing yesterday, but looks like I got covered.

    I get the most excited by sci-fi lyrics, then historically based lyrics, since fantasy lyrics are so overdone in power metal

  • I love literary references, high fantasy, spirituality, philosophy and political commentary on metal 🙂

  • Ted Nü-Djent ™

    Late to the game here but I don’t really have a preference (I barely pay attention to the lyrics at all these days). As long as they’re well written or not some racist bullshit, I’m good