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So you're writing a Heavy Metal song. You've got a few good riffs and chord progressions down, but now you need lyrics. You don't want to write about Satan, existing works of fiction, elves and orcs, or even about metal itself... so what do you write about? Well, history, of course!

Metal, much more so than other genres, has a tendency to be about Real Life history. Since history can be rather gruesome, it appeals to Metal Heads' love of songs about violence and death; also, writing about history can be an excellent way to Show Your Work and convince the critics you're not just shallow sensationalists who write about violence and death.

Note that to fit this trope, the lyrics have to be about a specific historical event. Metal that just evokes the imagery of a more loosely defined historical setting (e.g. Viking Metal or Pirate Metal) is not this trope - that's more of a "Metal Period Piece".

Horrible History Metal usually averts Mad Lib Metal Lyrics; it is, after all, hard to write meaningless rambling and still maintain it's "about history"... although some bands certainly try their best. Has nothing to do with Horrible Histories (except for the Metal Spoof songs they did, which are good examples of this trope).

Examples of Horrible History Metal include:


  • The Russian metal band Ariya has a song about Alexander Nevsky's battle with the Teutonic Knights, a song about the Norfolk regiment that was (supposedly) inexplicably lost in 1915, and one about Christianization of Kievan Rus (from the Pagan viewpoint).
  • Hammerfall have a number of songs about the Crusades. Realism does not seem to be a priority.
  • Holy Martyr focus a lot on this trope (albiet in an often heroic way), with their historical subjects ranging from Spartans, to Romans, to even feudal Japan.
  • Iron Maiden loves this trope. Notable examples are "The Trooper" (about the Crimean War) and "Paschendale" (about World War One).
  • Masterplan's self-titled album has a song called Crystal Night, which is about Nazi Germany
  • Nile covers plenty of events throughout Egyptian history. On top of that, they hold nothing back in regards to discussing the sheer brutality behined a lot of it.
  • Running Wild has "Calico Jack" about the famous pirate, and "Ballad of William Kidd" and "Adventure Galley", about William Kidd and his Cool Boat.
  • Most of Sabaton's lyrics are about World War Two and/or Those Wacky Nazis. They also have "Counterstrike" about the Six Day War, "Back In Control" about The Falklands War, "Cliffs of Gallipoli" and "The Price of a Mile" about World War One, and "Panzer Batallion" and "Reign of Terror" about the Gulf War.
  • Saxon:
    • "Machine Gun" about World War One. Contains some Technology Porn about tanks and (duh) machine guns.
    • "Dallas 1 P.M." about the assassination of John F Kennedy. Note that it does not contain any speculation - it merely recounts the assassination itself, and public reaction to it.
  • Skyclad has "Think Back And Lie Of England" reminding about unglamorous moments as a jab at Politically-Correct History.
    • There's also R'Vannith, which is about the Roman conquest of England.
  • Slayer has "Angel Of Death" about horrible medical "experiments" conducted by Josef Mengele during World War Two, and "Unit 731" about horrible medical "experiments" conducted by the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
    • They have a few more songs about Those Wacky Nazis, such as "Behind the Crooked Cross" and "SS-3."
  • Sodom:
  • Korpiklaani more commonly sings about mythology (and even more commonly sings about drinking), but in "Vesaisen Sota" (Vesaisen's War), they describe the Russo-Swedish war of 1540-1627.
  • "The Enemy" by Anthrax is discusses Hitler.
  • Many songs by Primordial are concerned with Irish history and myth. One of their most well-known songs, "The Coffin Ships", takes its name from the ships that carried Irish emigrants to Canada and America during the Famine (so called because so many of the passengers died during the journey).
  • Several System of a Down songs are about the Armenian genocide. All of the members of the band have Armenian heritage and have campaigned to have the genocide recognized as such.
  • UK Black Metal band Winterfylleth have numerous songs about various English historical events.
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