War is undoubtedly one of the most powerful forces that mankind has wielded. It has left millions dead, changed history and the world simply wouldn’t be the way it was if it weren’t for wars. That being said, it has also been inspiration for some amazing art, in all mediums. There are books, movies and music inspired by war. Some have chosen to glorify it, others have chosen to put it down. But either way, it has been a huge inspiration. In this article, we look at some great songs that were based on war or soldiers.
- Hero of War – Rise Against
This simple song (it features just a guitar and vocals) talks about innocence being lost and how tempting the possibility of glory can be for young men. The story it tells is of a young man who goes to fight in the war and comes back completely broken. He comes back as a hero of war to his family and friends, but only he knows the terrible price he’s had to pay for those empty compliments. He may have medals, but he also has scars he will never be able to forget about.
- One – Metallica
Probably the darkest song on this list, this 7 minute long song talks about a soldier who has lost all his limbs and all ability to communicate with the outside world. He is trapped within his own mind and slowly goes insane. This song captures a very dark side of war, and does it musically brilliantly. The guitar solo is great, and only adds to the macabre atmosphere. One by Metallica cannot be missed.
- The Trooper – Iron Maiden
Inspired by the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem Charge of the Light Brigade, this song talks about the experiences of a soldier on the battlefield. It starts with him charging into battle as the bugle sounds, and ends with his life being taken on the battlefield. He dies, but promises that he’ll live to fight another day as the song is taken into a breathtaking dual guitar solo. If you can put the lyrics aside, this might almost be a happy song. The guitar intro is also to die for.
- War Pigs – Black Sabbath
One of the first antiwar songs by the band that defined heavy metal, War Pigs takes the listener on a sonic adventure. The lyrics are poignantly funny, by likening politicians to witches and so on. The drums hit hard, and Tony Iommi’s guitar takes the song to the next level. Make sure you have the lyrics open on a page when you listen to this song.
- Zombie – Cranberries
While originally written about the potato famine in Ireland, this song has gone on to become one of the greatest antiwar songs ever written. Musically, it is very simple, just four chords, but the vocals and lyrics are what drive this song really home. It likens people who are suffering from the aftermath of war to zombies.