From Hell’s Heart: The Saddest Metal Songs
What exactly is a sad song? Well, that is personal, and up to the listener, but it usually has something to do with the lyrics which one relates to AND the feel of the music. We asked our staff to give us their top 5 selections and some thoughts on them. Check out the results below….
The Saddest Metal Songs of All Time
When thinking about this one, and listening to some of the songs that came to mind I got to re-hear a number of awesome, haunting, beautiful, and dark sounding sad songs. There are so many. Every good band has a sad song, even “happy” bands. However, the saddest of the sad come from those who deal in sorrow on a regular basis. Below are what I narrowed down from a list of about 15 songs to just 5.
1. Sentenced – We Are But Falling Leaves
I could of easily filled my top 5 with Sentenced songs. They have such haunting and sad melodies and lyrics. I think of them often, and miss them greatly.
“We are but falling leaves in the air, hovering down.
Unaware we are spinning around.
Scattered fragments of time,
like blinks of an eye.
We are… That’s all we are.”
2. Type O Negative – Red Water (Christmas Mourning)
Here’s anther band who were kings of sadness. Sometimes the music is heavy, creepy, but when you feel it most is on their sad songs….of which they have so so many. I had trouble picking one: Love You To Death, Everything Dies, World Coming Down, etc. are all equally sad and depressing.
3. Savatage – When the Crowds Are Gone
Such a sad song and story. Unfinished dreams, reliving memories of what once was nearly obtained. Seize the day and live life now, don’t live in the past or this could be you.
“And the lights
Turn them off my friend
And the ghosts
Well just let them in
Cause in the dark
It’s easier to see”
4. Nevermore – Who Decides/Noumenon
Warrel Dane is such an expressive singer; still one of the best. There are many sad sounding songs to choose from in the Nevermore catalog. Sentient 6, The Heart Collector, Emptiness Unobstructed, She Comes in Colours, etc.
5. Judas Priest – Before the Dawn
It was either this, “Dreamer Deceiver”, or “Here come the Tears”. There is much sadness, despair and emotion in Halford’s vocals on these classic tracks. In fact, the 70’s era of Priest have a number of songs like this, moreso than the rest of their metal music legacy.
1. Cliffs of Gallipoli – Sabaton
The centenary of ANZAC troops landing on Gallipoli was 25 April 1915. Lest We Forget.
2. Shamandalie – Sonata Arctica
Because we’ve all had our hearts broken.
3. 10th Man Down – Nightwish
War and more war.
4. When a Dead Man Walks – Lacuna Coil
Two Australian drug traffickers have just been executed in Indonesia. Their final fight and the grief and despair of their families was sad to watch, but most saddening was that during their incarceration they proved they could achieve more – why could they not have done that in the first place instead of drug trafficking to earn quick and big bucks?
5. One – Metallica
Another victim of war. It’s sad and eerie at the same time.
2. Metallica – Fade to Black
3. Pantera – Cemetery Gates
4. Dream Theater – Disappear
5. Helloween – A tale that wasn’t right
1. Motorhead – 1916
Lemmy’s interest in WWI shines through on this song about the Somme and manages to capture the utter futility and hellish landscape of that battlefield through the music. Watching a good documentary on WWI while playing this song is a good way to appreciate what Motorhead accomplished on this track, a definite departure for them and real downer to boot.
2. Demons And Wizards – Fiddler On The Green
The back story is necessary to get the full effects of this heart-wrencher. Hansi saw a boy on a bicycle hit by a car and killed. A week later, another person was hit and killed in this same spot in his neighborhood. In the song, the Fiddler (Reaper) claims the boy before his time, and the girl in the song was to be his future wife. The Fiddler makes amends by creating a place where the two of them can be together. We once hosted a saddest song contest at my house, where everyone got to pick 5 songs, and most of these people were non-metal fans, but my pick, Fiddler On The Green won by a landslide.
3. Savatage – Alone You Breathe
Jon Oliva wrote this one for his brother Criss Oliva, who was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver back in 1993. The pain that Jon must have felt comes through in this song, as the two were very close. It is not Savatage’s greatest song, but it is a very emotional ride nonetheless.
4. Those We’ve Left Behind – Maegi
Hansi Kursch guests on this song from the Turkish band Maegi, and he delivers another said but beautiful tune
5. Sentenced – No One There
There were a number of Sentenced songs that qualify for this list, but when you consider the video for this and the lyrics, I had to move it ahead of the other Sentenced songs. Any one that is honest with their self will recognize the fear of your significant other not being there with you when it is your time to go.
1. W.A.S.P. – The Great Misconceptions of Me
2. Beyond the Bridge – Where the Earth and Sky Meet
3. Sabaton – Far From the Fame
4. Jag Panzer – The Tragedy of Macbeth
5. Warrel Dane – This Old Man
This assignment was very, very tough. My mind immediately leapt to any number of 80’s power ballads, but this is assignment is about True Metal so here we go…
My sad songs tend to include lyrics that reflect the negative aspects of the human condition.
1.) Sonata Arctica-Letter To Dana (from Ecliptica. Spinefarm, 1999)
A tragic song telling a tale of a young man writing letters to the young woman he once loved as she descends into a career in pornography while her family dies. A wonderful (sad) ballad that ends in tragedy, by this excellent band.
Dana, my darling, I’m writing to you.
Cause your father passed away, it was a beautiful day
And I don’t want to bother You anymore,
I used to hope you’d come back
But not anymore Dana.
My eyes might have betrayed me, but I have seen
Your picture on the cover of a filthy magazine
And I think my heart just cannot handle that
Dana, my darling, would be so bad.
2.) Savatage- A Handful of Rain (from A Handful Of Rain, Atlantic , 1994)
Another tragic tale of an old, lost and lonely soul looking for salvation in the bottom of a whiskey glass.
Wash your women in your whiskey
When your future’s in the past
And you’re staring up at heaven
From the bottom of a glass
And you need some insulation
From the years you’ve had and lost
And you feel the perspiration
As you’re adding up the cost
3.) Twisted Sister -King Of Fools (from Come out And Play, Atlantic, 1985)
An under-rated an epic ballad with heartfelt lyrics.
What kind of kingdom has no throne?
No crown or castle do I own
I don’t have silver, gold or jewels
Yet I’m the king, king of the fools
4.) Dio- Between Two Hearts (from Lock Up The Wolves, Warner, 1990)
An eloquent story about a woman suffering in an abusive relationship.
We never have to ask her why she’s crying
The smile she had’s been kicked into a frown
But still it makes her day to be his pleasure
Should we open up her eyes
Can we ever break the spell
No one can tell
5.) Alice Cooper- Only Women Bleed (from Welcome to My Nightmare, Warner, 1975)
A gripping story of abusive relationships. The first of many excellent Alice ballads to explore this topic.
She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don’t come home at all
1) Black Sabbath – Changes (VOL. 4, 1972)
C’mon, the opening lyrics are “I feel unhappy/I feel so sad”. Hearing Ozzy pour his heart out and conceding “I f@#ked up” to anyone that’ll listen is just such a profoundly human thing to do. We’ve all experienced the end of some kind of relationship (friendships, marriages, death), and it makes the emotion bared in “Changes” that much more relatable.
2) Black Sabbath – Solitude (MASTER OF REALITY, 1971)
I was torn between this and “Changes” for my top spot. Another loner’s lament, it’s really the music in “Solitude” that tears at my heart. The flute, the chimes, Iommi’s soft strumming, and that amazing Geezer Butler bassline; sadness rarely sounds this good.
3) Katatonia – Saw You Drown (DISCOURAGED ONES, 1998)
Honestly, I’d nominate the entire DISCOURAGED ONES album here if I could. Easily the most depressing album in a catalog full of depressing music, the Swedes outdid themselves here. You can’t misinterpret the meaning of “Saw You Drown”; the narrator saw you in the water, saw you drown, and was either unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
4) Wolves in the Throne Room – A Looming Resonance (MALEVOLENT GRAIN, 2009)
The vocals and lyrical imagery sell this one so good; searching the cold forests by starlight for something you won’t find, it’s WITTR at their best. By the time the fuzzed discordance slowly builds into a full on black metal gallop, you’re ready to succumb to whatever may lie ahead.
5) Metallica – Orion (MASTER OF PUPPETS, 1986)
It’s all about that left turn halfway into the song, I always relate that first bend as the sound of what a Cliff Burton’s loss feels like. Watching the band play through “Orion” at the end of the Through the Never movie, you can almost read that same feeling on their faces.
1. Backyard Babies “Friends”
Joey Ramone made a guest appearance on this song, it turned out to be one of his last recordings ever. May one of my punk heroes rest in peace.
2. Motörhead “Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me”
The title and lyrics says it all. If you listen to the lyric you’ll see that Lemmy knows how to be socio-critic. He stands up for the unpriviliged people and people in need.
3. Johan Norum “Wild One”
A CD bonus track from “Total Control”– a cover of one of the best songs originally made by Thin Lizzy. It’s sad to listen to it since Norum’s vocals sounds a lot like the late hero Phil Lynott in this song.
4. Hanoi Rocks “Million Miles Away”
This became the tribute song to the deceased Razzle who was killed in a car crash, in a car driven by Vince Neil. I wonder what would have happened if Razzel hadn’t been killed in the crash and the album became a huge hit.
5. Volbeat “The Garden’s Tale”
One of the most popular songs from the album that became the big break through for Volbeat. It’s sad and wonderful at the same time.