Waxing Atrocious: Lords of Nonsense
When something is ‘metal,’ it more often than not pushes at the boundaries of meaningful or important. Certain qualities are inarguably metal—extremity, bleakness, grandiosity, gruesomeness, and the involvement of a skeleton playing an electric guitar. But the majority of things that can be described with ‘metal’ as an adjective are metal in abstract ways. Metal is one of those genres that doesn’t need to make sense, because so much of it relies on gut instinct. Things are metal because they’re awesome, and they’re awesome because they’re metal, and being metal is awesome. You get where I’m going with this.
As such, some of the best and most metal song lyrics out there make no sense. While some bands prefer the old tell-a-story song structure—who doesn’t love “Hallowed Be Thy Name”?—many of the genre’s best and brightest have crafted some of the most metal songs to date by entirely ignoring conventional vocabulary, grammar, or sentence structure, and instead have painted complex portraits of the metal world with jumbled phrases containing fake words and vaguely-outlined ideas. Here, we honor these off-kilter geniuses for their ability to make us pump our fist at words that make little to no sense. Remember: the only book more false than the Bible is the dictionary.
As I mentioned in my review of their album Satanic Royalty, Midnight are happy to use nonsensical phrases in their lyrics and song titles to get across deeply badass concepts. The two phrases that come immediately to mind are “Rip This Hell” and “Shock Til Blood”, both of which command the listener to perform ridiculous and confusing actions that are none the less fucking amazing. Lyrics like “Same trash falls in your face/Exploding with no taste” only further the band’s dedication to meaning over sense.
Sweden’s favorite racing-obsessed death-thrashers have a long history of killer song lyrics that are really just a bunch of the right words jammed together. On “Devil Gate Rider”, frontman Johan Lindstrand claims that fire is shooting through his spine “like an octane-action cyclone storm.” What? Don’t even worry about it. In “Blitzkrieg Witchcraft”, the band writes, “A-bomb/Pure deathfuck/Exploding bodies uber alles”, a lyric that means absolutely nothing while simultaneously combining the two central ideas—the Blitzkrieg, and witchcraft—together. Their sophomore album title itself, “Deathrace King”, is equally fantastic albeit unexplainable.
With Singapore’s Impiety—and indeed many metal bands—it’d be easy to chalk their nonsense lyrics up to English as a second language. But Impiety’s extensive catalog proves that they are simply dedicated to total hyperbole; there’s no way they’ve unintentionally released this many albums worth of self-constructed words with personalized spellings. From “Sodomythical Frostgoats”, which opens with the line “Blessed by goatfucks, hellcanting sodomies” and hails “Satanique damnation”; to “Bloodred Angelshred”, a song instructing listeners in “The sacred art of rape and carve”, Impiety prove that there is none more nonsensical than they. What do the lyrics mean? War, goats, Hell, death. End of story.
Cradle of Filth
Not only can England’s most gothic metal band not claim ESL as the cause of their Frankensteined words and concepts, their use of flowery classical language means that for all intents and purposes, they should have the King’s English down. But let’s not forget that Shakespeare made up plenty of words (“napkin”, for example. I know, right?!). In fact, it’s with that kind of poetic sensibility that Dani Filth cries out terms like “pentaholocaust”, “halitosis of the soul”, and “a warm spurt of mantras.” It’s all incredibly creative and well-crafted, even if it does sometimes smack of goth poetry.
That’s right, no nonsense lyric list is complete without Portland power metal band Malice. If you’re unfamiliar, think thrashy classic metal a la Anvil and Tank. The band wins their place on this list for inventing two amazingly metal words for the sake of rhyming in their songs—“infernity”, which means, you guessed it, an eternal inferno, and “fantacide”, which means death by fantasy. Only true heshers make up whatever words they want for the sake of killer lyrics. Hail.
Have we forgotten your favorite nonsensical lyricists? Are there bands who frontmen make even less sense than those listed above? Let us know in the comments section.