Note: I realized on 2/23/15 that I had mis-numbered my Mixtapes, beginning with Volume 4. When I fixed the numbering, I realized that this one should have been Volume 8, but if you read the introduction to Volume 8, you’ll see why I could not make it Volume 9. This is why Volume 8 and Volume 9 are out of order.
Some time ago, I wrote briefly about the fact that a lot of metal lyrics (thrash metal in particular) contain a fair amount of social awareness. I quickly got off track, and still intend to follow up on the topic eventually, but for today, I’ve put together a Mixtape with a theme of drug use (both lawful and illicit). The majority of these songs take a decidedly anti-hard drug stance, some of them are more in vein of urging caution, and a few of them have a positive message regarding the use of mood-altering substances. Without further ado, I present Obey Your Master (which is a line from one of the songs presented below).
Vio-Lence – “T.D.S. (Take It As You Will)” (from Eternal Nightmare – 1988) – I’ma start this fucker off with a big-ass bang. The fifth song on Vio-Lence’s utterly perfect debut album (“T.D.S.” is short for “The Drug Song”) tackles the issue of heroin use. The song starts out sharing the point-of-view of a user, then shifts gears to tell the dealer’s side of the story (not unlike N.W.A.’s “Dopeman”). Like all the other songs on Eternal Nightmare, this one is packed so full with Sean Killian’s lunatic lead vocals, as well as gang vocals and lightning-fast, insane guitars that it leaves you with very little time to think. Then again, when Vio-Lence is playing, what the fuck do you need to think about?
Anthrax – “N.F.L. (Efilnikufesin)” (from Among the Living – 1987) – This song has remained a staple of Anthrax’s live set since the release of Among the Living, and for good reason – it’s one of their top 5 best songs (this issue is not open to debate). The lyrics were inspired by John Belushi’s untimely death from an overdose of heroin and cocaine. The fact that Jim Belushi is still alive is not actually relevant to this, but it sure as hell is unfair.
Nuclear Assault – “Emergency” (from Handle With Care – 1989) – Nuclear Assault will be one of the primary subjects when I finally get around to writing my “socially-conscious metal” piece, and more should be written about them by more people, because their first three albums are amazing. “Emergency” (very quickly) tells the story of a guy (I assume it’s a guy – maybe it’s a gal) who has more or less given up on life, and exists solely for the purpose of getting fucked up. I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times since 1989, and the way this song ends still blows me away.
Brutal Truth – “Mainliner” (from Need to Control – 1994) – This makes the third band in a row that Dan Lilker co-founded (although he only appeared on Anthrax’s 1984 debut). That was unintentional, but it’s pretty fucking awesome. “Mainliner” is from Brutal Truth’s second full-length (which, like Vio-Lence’s Eternal Nightmare, happens to be a perfect album), and it’s about heroin use. I fucking love the way the song starts. Like many of BT’s songs, the lyrics are bit abstract, but one set of lines make it pretty clear where they stand on heroin use:
“It is all/sick desire/kicks for liars/fuel for fire/your head shoved firmly in your ass/nod out/right now.”
System of a Down – “Psycho” (from Toxicity – 2001) – Maybe you don’t consider System of a Down to be metal. Maybe I don’t care what you think. They are obviously heavy, and their first two albums are among the best heavy albums of the late 1990’s/early 2000’s. They, along with the Deftones, were definitely victims of the media’s burning need to classify everything into genres. Both of those bands were light years better than their “nü-metal” peers. Anyway, “Psycho” is about a crazy cokehead groupie, and I assume it’s based on a real person (or people) the band had to deal with. I don’t feel like looking it up, because it doesn’t really matter – the song is great.
Metallica – “Master of Puppets” (from Master of Puppets – 1986) – Not much to say about this one. It’s about drug abuse in general, and seems to be about cocaine and/or heroin specifically, but the thing that sets it apart from the other songs on this Mixtape is that it is told from the perspective of the drug itself. I miss Metallica.
Black Sabbath – “Sweet Leaf” (from Master of Reality – 1971) – This is the first of the few songs on this Mixtape that discuss drugs in a more positive light. Everyone knows the riff from “Sweet Leaf”, and if you don’t, shut up and listen to it right now. It fucking rules.
Brujeria – “Marijuana” (from Marijuana EP – 1998) – Brujeria is Spanish for “witchcraft”, and the band is a death metal supergroup whose members pretend to go to absurd lengths to mask their identities. The “official” story of Brujeria is that they are all Latin drug lords who are wanted by government officials, and therefore conceal their identities when they perform live. In reality, people ranging from Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares, Napalm Death’s Shane Embury, Faith No More’s Billy Gould, and Carcass frontman/bassist Jeff Walker have performed with the band (studio and live). This song is not the best Brujeria song, but it is pretty fucking funny.
Death Angel – “Ex-TC” (from Act III – 1990) – Death Angel fucking rules. This song, as you might have guessed, is about ecstasy. The lyrics are almost overwhelmingly positive, not unlike the effects that ecstasy is reported to have on the user.
“Come into my place/there is great pleasure/in what you will find/I throw away hate/that’s how you tell/X is on my mind.”
Pantera – “Suicide Note Pts. 1 & 2” (from The Great Southern Trendkill – 1996) – Technically, only “Suicide Note Pt. 1” is specifically about drug use, but the songs are fucking amazing together. Phil Anselmo was clearly in a very dark place at this point in his life.
Motörhead – “Motorhead” (from Motörhead – 1977) – “Motorhead” is a slang term for a person who regularly uses/abuses amphetamines. Even if they were called The Jesus-Loving Choirboys, I don’t think it would be any secret that the band Motörhead have used/abused amphetamines. And just in case you still weren’t sure, a song called “Speedfreak” appeared on their 1982 album Iron Fist. Lemmy’s love of Chuck Berry really shines through on this song.
Ozzy Osbourne – “Suicide Solution” (from Blizzard of Ozz – 1980) – This is the Ozzy Osbourne song that reportedly caused a depressed teenager to kill himself. Ozzy has stated that the lyrics were inspired by the death of original AC/DC singer Bon Scott, but Bob Daisley, who played bass on Blizzard of Ozz and wrote much of the music and lyrics (regardless of what Sharon Osbourne has to say about the matter), says that he had Mr. Osbourne himself in mind when he wrote the lyrics to “Suicide Solution”. Either way, the lyrics are obviously about alcohol abuse, and do not in any way encourage a person to commit suicide.
Sleep – “Dopesmoker” (from Dopesmoker – 2003) – If this were a real Mixtape, this song would be a bonus disc, as it is just over one hour and three minutes long. In my own dopesmoking days, this song blew my mind clean apart on many occasions. I don’t do that anymore, but “Dopesmoker” still melts my face from time to time. On the surface, the song seems to plod along and go nowhere, but if you have patience, you will be richly rewarded. The lyrics are surreal (and almost impossible to sing along with), and the riffs are unbelievably heavy.
“Drrrroooooooooop oooouuuuut of liiiiiiife with booooooooooooooooong iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand/follooooooowwwww the smooooooooooooooooooke to the riff fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeed laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand…”
Final Thoughts: Don’t do drugs, kids. Unless you want to. But if you do, for fuck’s sake, don’t be stupid about it. Getting hooked is dumb, and overdosing is even dumber.
Stay heavy, y’all.