Speak English or Die Because Even Satan Wears Leather
A Look at German Metal Lyrics From the '80s
by: Matthias Noll
This is being published in our Writer's Wrath column, which is probably misleading because this is about love and not wrath... but here we go.

The curse of the compact disc is that I hardly ever touch my vinyl these days. Well, once in a while I dig out my old record player and give the ancient ones a spin or two. While recently going through my collection of German thrash metal, the brilliance of the lyrics left me breathless and I hope you'll understand once you read further. Unfortunately, most bands didn't even bother with a lyric sheet (I would have loved to see those of Deathrow and Iron Angel) and therefore this is far from complete. My admiration belongs to those who dared to print what they were singing about.

Love, Sex and... Violence

Even Germans do have feelings. And perhaps even more astounding: German bangers do actually not only like metal but sex too. If you look at their promotion photos, it might have been easier to sing about the latter than getting a chance to really do it. Sex Maniac and wannabe guitar hero Axel Rudi Pell (definitely a specialist in female psychology) penned the following lyrics for his band Steeler (who weren't thrash but nevertheless had some mighty funny moments):

"It's eight o clock and time to rock
The woman's alone, no man she's got
She stroke him down cause he was dead
No more love and sex she said"
(Steeler, "Love for Sale")

Obviously driven insane by unfulfilled sexual desire, Pell let the story continue with this example of Teutonic love poetry (note: lila is the German word for purple:

"Every night the time is right, to touch her cunt of fire
Straps in black, lips in lila, knows my cool desire"
(Steeler, "Call Her Princess")

Even more romantic is what can be found in the insane depths of Living Death's _Vengeance of Hell_ album:

"She was only fifteen, when I killed her screen
But it wasn't bad, because she drove me mad
Since these days, we go the way
Whole life long we'll love us so strong"
(Living Death, "Riding a Virgin")

And, in an emotional moment, Kreator decided to sing about flowers.

"On a field littered with corpses
Stands a lonely flower
It reminds the world how it was
But we kicked it away with power"
(Kreator, "Riot of Violence")

If there is romance, then treachery is just around the corner, and even the love machines from Living Death know about that (I don't know what they mean with "planed", that's how it is on the lyric sheet).

"When you're skulling, you planed a bad thing
And in your eyes, I see the lies"
(Living Death, "You and Me")

Coming from the barbarian wastelands of southern Germany, the aptly named Destruction, probably considering these fantasies too wimpy, show appreciation for a mixture of sex and violence and shatter all illusions about ever finding the love of your life with their shocking bedroom tales.

"You lie on your bed, your view real seems great
But instead of his prick
He's drawing his blade"
(Destruction, "Mad Butcher")

Even Living Death finally got the message. Let the killing begin!

"When they lie I must try that they all have to die
than I come on my flame and they were never seen again"
(Living Death, "My Victim")

...And the Bottle Is Your Only Friend

There seems to have been a strong preoccupation with booze in the German scene. While their American and English counterparts seemed to focus either on violence (Exodus), Satan and his evil deeds (Venom, Slayer) or a mixture of each and everything (the others), the Germans definitely love their beer. Maybe this happened as a result of their failed attempts to impress the other gender and circumstances best described by Frankfurt's thrashers Tankard.

"There are thugs and murders here
They want kill and raping you
Houses are not very good
Only badly ruins"
(Tankard, "Rundown Quarter")

Reality looks indeed rather grim and is aptly described by people with promising pseudonyms like Angelripper, Grave Violator, etc.:

"With swords and axes
The fight hard
In a massacre
they feel the hot smart"
(Sodom, "Outbreak of Evil")

"Time has come, the peace can't stand
Masters of switch now rule the land
Push their switch and send the death
Politician war-pigs got only shit in their heads"
(Kreator, "Total Death")

"He bursts their heads till they die
You feel so mad you're feeling so high
He arrives he's sent from hell
Running wild by the sound of the bell"
(Kreator, "Bonebreaker")

"We live our life in grieved desire
Our hopeless is getting higher
You cry for freedom, but nobody hear you
The end of the world is true"
(Sodom, "Burst Command Til War!")

So, what else have you got in an environment like that?

"Alcoholic forces power
Will take us higher"
(Violent Force, "Dead City")

And despite serious advise from professionals...

"The doc told me I wouldn't get old
My liver's broken down
But I only had a smile for what he told
Hey doc I'll get around"
(Violent Force, "Destructed Life")

"Liver is broken down so bloody hard
I keep on drinking until I drop
Bang your head against the fuckin' wall
Show the damned wimps who we are"
(Tankard, "Empty Tankard")

Heavy Metal Hurricane

Booze and women are secondary, though. The main thing that keeps a thrasher going is metal. Avoiding the cheesiness of metal warriors like Manowar -- and long before modern day mullet bangers like, for example, Sacred Steel expressed their love for broadswords, iron and steel --, the German scene found unparalleled ways to praise the power of metal.

"The moon stood high it was no lie
When I told it so shy
I was warning you
It was a battle like heavy metal
All the freaks banged their heads
Heavy metal hurricane in the hell and back again
Heavy metal hurricane
Bloody action see again"
(Living Death, "Heavy Metal Hurricane")

"There's nothing else in all the world
That will bring it down
We will play our wildest step to all around
We need it as a liquid in our veins instead of blood
Power, burnin', brains out
United metallians -- ready to strike"
(Helloween, "Heavy Metal Is the Law")

"Long haired crowd
is going their own way
they are invincible
if together they stand"
(Destruction, "Eternal Ban")

Even more astounding: years before metal became trendy and associated with abysmal rap, funk whatever crossover, Tankard and Violent Force unleashed the following prophecies -- a warning, it now seems, of unspeakable things to come:

"Every day and all night long
The fucking Breakdancer wanna be strong
We can't hear their fucking sound
We want Metal -- play it loud!"
(Tankard, "Death by Whips")

"You'll kill flower power
That is our desire"
(Violent Force, "Dead City")

Did Angelripper, like Tankard and Violent Force, also foresee, or even -- probably by accident -- influence bands like Soulfly, Limp Bizkit and Korn? I heard that Max Cavalera claims to have been the one to fuse death metal and rap, but looking at these rhymes, history probably needs to get rewritten. One thing is clear: MC Angelripper has got flow and style.

"War, Law, Slave of Sodom
Lust, Gods, Unholy Times
Night, Light, this fight is might"
(Sodom, "Witching Metal")

Bang Your Head for Satan

Drunk beyond comprehension, horny as hell and with a Heavy Metal Hurricane approaching (bloody action see again), the time was definitely right for the powers of evil to take over. Living Death managed to give a vivid description of the arrival of the evil forces.

"He comes up
Out of hell
All men who saw it
Hold it for spell"
(Living Death, "Vengeance of Hell")

Running Wild, however, seemed to be much better informed about the origin of terror:

"He grew in a womb of a hellpossessed whore
Born to be a king to give the badness war"
(Running Wild, "Adrian")

There seemed to be no stopping as the Satanic forces took control. Read these shocking accounts of unspeakable terror.

"Hell troops conquer, burning the church
Raising hellfire, satanic rules to urge
Reaper takes, commander's black
The living deads at his back"
(Running Wild, "Black Demon")

"Nemesis hordes of hades are blasting over the earth
Saveness disappearing frightning of the human
Execution has begun, the goddess decided to kill
Massacre creates a new world, blood has to be spoiled"
(Assassin, "Nemesis")

The battlecry "violence for the virgin" is still relevant after all these years:

"Masquarade as he rides through the night
Blitzkrieg torture blade shining bright
In his eyes dreams of pain
As he kills the lovely shame
Messengers from fiery will
Speaking out what no one will
Violence for the virgin
Death falls from his bloody skin"
(Kreator, "Son of Evil")

Even the forces of nature were possessed by Satan.

"Witches decided to take vengeance
Satan sent a legion of poisoned rats
The warriors of death and most evil inhuman"
(Destruction, "Satan's Vengeance")

Only metallers seemed to find a way out of this hell. A cunning plan was quickly developed: sympathize with the evil forces, become servants of Hell and unite with Satan's army.

"The voice of Hell, sound is so nice
The final death is the price
You can't wait much longer to give 'em what they need
You'll burst down their heads and spread Hellish heat
Feel the Endless Pain locked in metal chain"
(Kreator, "Endless Pain")

"I can never trust the virgin preacher
I can never believe in Jesus Christ
It's all right 'coz Satan is my teacher
People hidden them when we arised"
(Destruction, "Total Desaster")

There was hardly any open resistance, but not everybody seemed to be 100% into the alliance with Satan. The maniacs from Kreator, perhaps still impressed by the beauty of a flower, seemed to shy away from going totally berserk:

"Brutality and mighty wars warriors start to fight
With bombs and guns the troops have come to extinguish the light
I'd rather not go wild tonight but I must save myself"

(Kreator, "Riot of Violence") Others, like Angelripper, condemned to play the black metal game, blamed society:

"Black metal is the game I play
'cause no one show me the right way
I am a bloody Antichrist, only believe in bad
Spit at the church, Evil I get"
(Sodom, "Blasphemer")

Fortunately, at least for true Norwegian black metal, Sodom did not falter but pleaded for "impalement for destroy" and fulfilled their promise of "evil I get".

"Obsessed by Cruelty
Impalement for destroy
Obsessed by Cruelty
Deadly, cold and grey"
(Sodom, "Obsessed by Cruelty")

Now that the vaults are unlocked... Who in our readership has been informed about the leading role Running Wild had in the rise and fall of true black metal? Forget Darkthrone, burning churches, etc.; here's the truth how to really shock the authorities:

"Black metal grifittis are thrown against the wall
Crucifixes are inversed
Pictures are signed by the triple six
Black metal art is shocking Law 'n' order man"
(Running Wild, "Prisoners of Our Time")

And once again, Running Wild, who, at the forefront of the Satanic allegiance, seem to have the knowledge that even outfit-wise there are strong bonds...

"We are right, praying metal tonight
The message from hell and ist spell
Even Satan wears leather, our souls to it forever
Let us pray our rules tonight
Chains and Leather and Rivets"
(Running Wild, "Chains and Leather")

Scarred for Life

Such talent has forever left its mark on the development of metal lyrics. What would bands like The Crown or Raise Hell sing about hadn't the Germans shown them the way to metallic immortality? Would Norwegian black metal have been possible, Varg Vikernes spend his time in prison, Limp Bizkit rule the charts, the global warming happen without a significant increase of "Hellish Heat" and the leaks in the ozone layer be a problem today without "Impalement for Destroy"? Definitely not! So let's bow to the masters and chant together: "Heavy Metal Hurricane, Bloody Action see again"!

Resources From Hell

All lyrics printed without permission. Most records bought from official record stores and paid with hard-earned cash. There might be typos in the original lyrics which distort their own meaning.

Assassin - _The Upcoming Terror_ (Steamhammer, 1987)
Destruction - _Sentence of Death_ (Steamhammer, 1984)
Destruction - _Eternal Devastation_ (Steamhammer, 1986)
Helloween - _Walls of Jericho_ (Noise, 1986)
Kreator - _Endless Pain_ (Noise, 1985)
Kreator - _Pleasure to Kill_ (Noise, 1986)
Living Death - _Vengeance of Hell_ (Earthshaker, 1984)
Running Wild - _Gates to Purgatory_ (Noise, 1984)
Running Wild - _Branded and Exiled_ (Noise, 1985)
Sodom - _In the Sign of Evil_ (Steamhammer, 1984)
Sodom - _Obsessed by Cruelty_ (Steamhammer, 1986)
Steeler - _Steeler_ (Earthshaker, 1984)
Tankard - _Alcoholic Metal_ (demo tape, 1983)
Tankard - _Zombie Attack_ (Noise, 1985)
Violent Force - _Malevolent Assault of Tomorrow_ (Roadrunner, 1987)

Thanks to Paul Schwarz, Pedro Azevedo and David Rocher for a fantastic time in France. It was then that the idea to write this article was born. Also thanks to Fozzy II for inspiration. I raise my bloodfilled chalice and salute you and all our readers -- "Total Satan"!

(article submitted 10/1/2001)

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