14 Metal Songs That Aren’t Ballads for the Lonely + Brokenhearted
Buddy, we're on your side. Valentine's Day is a totally corporate powered holiday in order to part you from your money. Candy companies want you to buy up-charged boxes of chocolates, restaurants are trying to make you spend more on menus, it's all terrible. So if on V-Day you're alone or mid-breakup, we don't want you to feel bad. Whether it's not having a date, the cutie on the elevator catching your eye, or a relationship ending in the worst possible season (i.e. this one), we've got a playlist for you.
This may come as a surprise to you, but metal musicians sometimes get upset over people and relationships (note: major sarcasm folks). It's a common theme that tracks across nearly every subgenre of metal, and, as such, we've done our best to include a wide representation of heartache. Best of all? No corny emo wallowing or ballads in sight!
Kick back, wallow, and jam these 14 Metal Songs That Aren't Ballads for the Lonely + Brokenhearted.
The vocal stylings of Ronnie James Dio lend themselves pretty excellently to most heartfelt emotion, heartbreak feeling extremely natural to his performance. "Straight Through The Heart" from Holy Diver matches up the musicality of the band with a vocal performance that sounds very real. It takes what was probably a pretty straight up relationship that didn't work out, but with Dio's delivery on "straight through the HEART!" it becomes a Shakespearian level tragedy.
"Oh, never tell a secret with your eyes/ It's the eyes that let you down /Tell a little truth with many lies / It's the only way I've found
Oh, here it comes again / Straight to your heart / Right in the middle of your heart"
Not all of us are tender, and not all of us want schmaltz. If you feel like you're an outsider, imagine if you were an interdimensional being and forced to listen to every dreadful pop song ever created. Such is the struggle of GWAR, thoroughly expressed in the accurately titled "Hate Love Songs." Combining a little bit of heavy metal and hardcore punk, GWAR take a shot at the entire conception of love and its participants. Especially you.
"I hate love songs and I hate lovers / I hate everything that I can't have so I hate you / I hate love songs and I hate lovers / I hate everything that I can't have so I hate you"
The high stakes romanticism of HIM's "love metal" obviously tackles the other side of passion. "Heartache Every Moment" shows the band casting a spell of pop-goth, packing its instrumentation with an undeniably catchy hook. Ville Vallo's lyrics bemoan a relationship doomed to fail. Guitars are distorted and smooth, a great singalong by the band.
"Oh it's heartache every moment / From the start till the end / It's heartache every moment with you / Deeper into our heavenly suffering / Our fragile souls are falling / It's heartache every moment / Baby with you"
When you've got a reputation like Motley Crue did in the 80s, you're going to be dealing with all sorts of relationships (some more fleeting than others). "Too Young to Fall in Love" explores heartache from a different perspective than what's usually seen in rock music. Vince Neil is fully aware of his reputation, and that it's the worst possible time to settle down with another woman. It's a rare moment of clarity and responsibility in hair metal, and a catchy tune to boot.
"Well now I'm killing you / Watch your face turning blue/ Not yet a man / Just a punk in the street/Too young to fall in love Run for the hills / We're both sinners and saints / Not a woman but a whore/I can just taste the hate"
The downtuned gloom and doom of My Dying Bride's metal is the perfect sea to sink into when you're feeling at your wits end when it comes to a relationship. "Loves Intolerable Pain" creates an atmosphere of suffocating guitar work, leaving listeners facing off with the solemn lyrical questions posed by vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe. The song explores misery's aura, before ramping up in its latter half for a more active take on sadness.
What if love's intolerable pain never leaves? / What will your life's mark leave upon this world? / What now, will my dark craft do with your body now? / We walk as Gods together through a fiery dawn
Finnish gothic metal band Sentenced know a thing or two about heart break, "No More Beating As One" being a perfect example of the feeling. It's the first step the band took in moving away from melodeath, and results in a pretty sweet track. The lyrics are thoroughly dramatic, its metaphors likening break up to straight up death and suicide to breakup. It's a solid song to get out the most over thee top aspects of loneliness and
"Gone are the times when I felt alive / Gone are those nights with you by my side / And now here I stand as the shadows grow deep… / With the death on my hand at your grave I weep"
In the middle of the chaos The Dillinger Escape Plan conjures up is a core strength of very vulnerable emotion. "One of Us Is The Killer" is a slow burn, the band starting off quiet while Greg Puciato croons. Musically it's full of melancholy and just a twinge of sinister forces at play. The music ramps up to a crushing bridge, ending in an emotional loop.
"In the air we tried to be but you shot your arrow through me / Now one of us must die, but the killer won’t survive"
One of Voivod's greatest strengths is the band's ability to work in both the fantastical and the very real. "Fix My Heart" off of their 1993 The Outer Limits is some of the band's most inspired material following the heights set by preceding albums Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. The song manages to both be very vulnerable lyrically as well as upbeat and fun, resulting in a breakup jam you'll want to hear even when you're in a good mood.
"Tell me now what do you read in my hand? / Please don't spell me wrong / What is going on?"
What happens when the entire world is weighing on you to save the princess when you're not able to feel human whatsoever? Sonata Arctica's "Kingdom for a Heart" posits this scenario, as it turns a time held trope on its head. The narrator in this song is still regretful over his emotions, as he'd give anything to engage in love like others can in his scenario, the drama bolstered by the high stakes of the lyricism.
"What the hell am I waiting here for, expecting you to
come and give away your life / Just for a moment of my time, have a hole where I should have a heart / I'm made of wood, I'm falling apart / I would give a kingdom for one more day."
Steel Panther. Heartbreak. You know what you're getting yourself into with these lyrics:
"Oh yeah / That you gotta stop fucking / Gotta stop fucking / Gotta stop fucking / Fucking my heart in the ass / Won't you please stop fucking my heart in the ass/ Oh won't you please stop fucking my heart"
Skid Row know a thing or two about being with women, but they know more than anything they "Can't Stand the Heartache." The lyrics do spend most of their time being upset at the cyclical process of meeting women and getting your heart broken, but through the sadness of this experience Sebastian Bach comes to the conclusion that it's going to be okay, and that time will indeed heal things.
"Can't stand the heartache / So bleeds the red, red rose / Time heals a broken heart / But that's just the way it goes / Can't stand, can't stand the heartache"
Converge's crown jewel of an album Jane Doe deals by and large with a relationship dissolving, and "Heaven In Her Arms" is a great singular piece from the larger work of art. Jacob Bannon's vocals are obscured (in a lot of the band's work admittedly), letting the pure anger and passion he feels take over for legibility, leading the song to full crush.
"Three simple words bled me dry / Three simple words bled us dry, bled us dry / I love you"
Killswitch Engage's 2004 title track "The End of Heartache" is deceptively clever in its lyrical approach. The song is introduced by Howard Jones' faint calls of "seek me, call me" which are later put in the context of the rest of his words, rewriting meaning entirely. It's both waiting for the person on the other end of a call, as well as for a feeling to dissipate. It proved the band is in good hands with Jones, and that he's able to key into vulnerability in a sincere way.
"(Seek me) For comfort, (Call me) For solace/ (I'll be waiting) For the end of my broken heart / (Seek me) Completion, (Call me) I'll be waiting / (I'll be waiting) For the end of my broken heart"
Devin Townsend has no problem getting serious or ridiculous, and "Love?" remains one of the band's biggest achievements in terms of blending heaviness with accessibility. The song is backed up by an infectious groove, matched with Townsend tearing up his vocals in an attempt to communicate the song's stakes. It succeeds and is still one of their most popular singles.
"I’ll wait for the night to come / So far, suicide at home / For I’m not the man you know / This love, it's about control"