Love songs can be some of the worst things on Earth. I’m talking pure grade schmaltz. Solo love in an elevator, which will only end in tears and a possible police arrest. Is that any way to live life? No. Love is such a visceral and human emotion, so why does it typically only get associated with cheap pop songs, date rapist folk tunes, and crooners who are as about as authentic as your garden variety government official? All of these middle-of-the-road associations and yet, so few in the mainstream take the time to look in the rich caves and mines within the heavy metal genre. Heavy metal love songs are the best because they often have punch, vigor, sensuality, and even occasional honesty. It’s not all trim and the worst specter of them all, the dreaded “power ballads.” (And face it, 99% of those ballads were not from metal bands. Europe and White Lion were NEVER metal bands. Yes, I know Vito Bratta is a great guitarist but when you use your powers for things like “Wait” and the wholly fang-less cover of Golden Earring’s, a legitimately great band, classic rock staple, “Radar Love,” talent is not the best asset.)
After all, love, with all of its passion, heartbreak, connection, and heat-seeking romance deserves better than some wimpy, simpy nonsense. Light some candles, burn some incense, and maybe even frighten your neighbors with these six heavy metal songs d’amour.
“Our love grows stronger now with every hour/Look into my eyes, you’ll see who I am/My Name is Lucifer, please take my hand”
-“N.I.B” by Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath is known for a multitude of glories. They are the godfathers of heavy metal, musical innovators, blessed sonic purveyors of doom, and one of the most solid bands to have ever emerged out of the rock & roll spectrum. That said, few associate love songs with the band, which is neither accurate or wholly inaccurate. Yet, they gifted us with one of the finest metal love songs in history with “N.I.B.” Originally on their 1970 self-titled debut album, “N.I.B” deals with everyone’s fallen angel, Lucifer, falling in love and promising that he will give you “…the sun, the moon, the stars.” Who could not swoon from that offer alone? It’s a beautiful song with some old fashioned Gothic romance elements. Who’s to say that a figure that many associate with evil cannot fall in love and yearn for connection? That’s one of numerous reasons why both this band is great and why Geezer Butler is one of rock’s finest and most underrated lyricists.
Also, side note here, but despite popular rumors, “N.I.B.” does not stand for “Nativity in Black,” as amazing and evil as that sounds. Instead, the reality was that it was inspired by “Nibby,” which was drummer Bill Ward’s nickname at the time due to his beard resembling a “pen nib.” (Think the ends of old fashioned quill pens.) Now just imagine if Geezer had written a love song to Bill’s beard.
Yes, I have issues. And Bill Ward and his former beard both rock.
“Don’t spill a drop dear/Let me kiss the curse away”
-“Wolf Moon” by Type O Negative
There is a special joy when subtle kinks can come into play with the arts. The artful turn of a harmony and a sweet enough sounding chorus all fooling some of the more distracted listeners from realizing what the message really is. I live for this. The late and forever great Peter Steele, the key songwriter and frontman for Type O Negative (a band both metal fans and goths alike could unite over), was a master of this creative subversion-perversion tactic.
“Wolf Moon” is a fine example of this. The music is heavy and lushly dark, with the lyrics revolving around one of the most intimate types of expressive love. While the idea of a romantic song involving werewolves does have an undeniable appeal for you sick little monkeys that love the Twilight series, that is the furthest thing from Steel’s reverent narrator. The opening lyrics pretty much spills it, with the line “The 28th Day/She’ll be bleeding again.” Still dubious? Later phrases like, “It is her moon time/When there’s iron in the air/A rusted essence” and my personal favorite, “Will you leave me with your taste?” Yeppers. Not only is Peter singing about a fair maiden’s menses but he is embracing it in such a way that can you earn a very specific type of winged merit badge for it. Face it, if a man loves you enough to look like Gene Simmons post “God of Thunder” in a 1970’s era live Kiss show after going “downtown,” then he is the real deal. Or just freaky, but either way, very convivial!
“Full moon is rising/The sky is black/I heed your call I’m coming back”
-“Desert Plains” by Judas Priest
Road trips are romantic in every sense of the word, ranging from the Byronic to the simple sexy idea of nothing to lose. Let the rubber meet the road! A band that has understood this threefold are the metal gods (other than Sabbath, natch) themselves, Judas Priest. In addition to being one of the most superb bands in existence, Priest tapped into the sensuality of travel and need with their epic song, “Desert Plains.” The fifth track from the band’s 1982 album, the incredibly underrated Point of Entry, this song that hits all the feels, from the heart to the loins and most importantly, the ears.
Lines like “Wild mountain thunder/Echoes my quest/My body aches but I’ll not rest/Quartz light to guide me/Till sunrise leads/My passion screams, my heart it bleeds” are better phrased and more evocative than anything your gonna find in a modern day book of romantic poetry, much less any modern day pop song. That is the division that leads to the question of who do you want? An immature bro trying to scam you at a club or a real man who can sing like Rob Halford?
“Knew I had to bite you baby/ When I first set eyes on you”
-“Love Me Like a Reptile” by Motorhead
Speaking of real men, it does not get more gristled, ingenious, and real than the late metal idol, Lemmy Kilmister. Best known for being the founding leader of Motorhead, as well as one-time bassist/singer for the equally sterling but very different band Hawkwind, Lemmy wrote a number of songs about love. Some are sweet, like his penning one of Ozzy Osborne’s biggest solo hits, “Mama, I’m Coming Home” back in 1991, and a whole lot of them are more on the prurient side. But hey, without physical love, none of us would be here in the first place! (Please forgive me for any mental thoughts of one’s parents getting friendly. There are reasons why god invented alcohol and K-holes.)
One of my personal favorites from the latter category is “Love Me Like a Reptile,” off of Motorhead’s massively popular fourth studio album Ace of Spades. It’s a simple and badass lusty hard rock song that has a lot, and I do mean a lot, of fun with metaphor. (As it very well should be!) How can one not at least smile with lyrics like, “Thunder lizard, stony eye, you got me hypnotized/Hot tongue breaks in and out and I can’t believe my eyes/And your soft white belly, next to mine?” Love should be fun and so is this song. (Random trivia note: Blue Oyster Cult, another band that are gods among men, were originally named Soft White Underbelly.) Plus, any song that gives you a mental image of Lemmy as a sexed-up Iguana deserves its own special award.
“I like the caress of steel/It’s the hard edge that I feel/Heavy Metal Love”
-“Heavy Metal Love” by Helix
What is it about Canada? A country that has given us so many incredibly talented and stand-out bands and musicians. Rush are obviously the big dogs, but you also have artists of other spectrums, including both hard rock and non-hard rock artists, like Nash the Slash, Strange Advance, Dalbello, Spoons, and April Wine. In the center of this vast, great land is one of the biggest hard rock gems in the form of Helix. A band that might not necessarily have re-invented the wheel but boy, did that make it best wheel ever! Everything they’ve done since their major label debut in 1983 with No Rest for the Wicked has been an ace in the hard rock oeuvre card deck.
“Heavy Metal Love” is not only the best-known song off of No Rest for the Wicked, but it is also catchy as hell and bursting with iron-fisted glee. The music video for it features a queso-riffic theme of a muscular and gorgeous glamazon welding together her dream heavy metal dude. (Trivia note, that ridiculously in-shape blonde in the video is actress/dancer Sandahl Bergman, who has appeared in films ranging from Bob Fosse’s masterpiece All that Jazz (1979) to co-starring next to one of the greatest men who ever lived, Roddy Piper, in Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988). I seriously want to have a drink with this woman.) As for the song, it’s great! Plus, is the phrase “caress of steel” a reference to the classic 1975 Rush album Caress of Steel? I like to think so.
I can’t wait to get you down on the dirty floor/
I know it ain’t a place/ But come on & close the door.
-“Turn Me On” by Accept
Gird your loins and dim the lights because, babies, it’s about to get a little steamy in here. When you think about the sexy satyrs of rock and metal, images of Robert Plant caterwauling in a ladies shirt, Steven Tyler rocking out in a ladies blouse, or Mick Jagger preening in Jaclyn Smith negligee from K-Mart may come immediately to mind. (Okay, the latter is a wee bit of a stretch, but not by much.) How about one Udo Dirkschneider from one of the best metal bands to have emerged from the same country that gave us Scorpions, Running Wild, Doro Pesch, and Lucifer’s Friend, among a gaggle of others? Maybe, maybe not, but one cannot deny the vocal power and ferocity of one of Germany’s most standout singers of metal.
Mainstream normies assume that 1980’s hair bands had the dominant game when it came to songs about romance and getting down to that sweet dirty business. Nay nay! Accept actually wrote a few songs with some rose-tinged feeling, including “Princess of the Dawn” and “Screaming for a Love Bite.” The latter almost made this list but was beat out by Accept’s equivalent to Lady Chatterley’s Lover, “Turn Me On.”
This song is just perfect, possessing all of the Earthy eroticism of hooking up on a dirty floor while strangers are literally trying to break in by busting the door. Udo’s sheer randiness throughout the song is stalwart in its horny commitment, with him even throwing in some lurid grunts during the song’s midsection. You can practically hear him shucking off his camo pants. Oh, and the part about the people trying to break down the door was not an exaggeration. He sings, “Guess there’s more than two now/Who wants to break the door/Please babe, I’ve gotta go/You have really been good/I know you want some more/But what can I do? Let’s go ahead/Please, turn me on.”
Let the beauty of all of this soak in. His dedication to busting another nut is beautifully astonishing. There’s a group of strangers trying to break in but the battle cry of getting some is too strong! I believe it was George Washington who was once quoted as saying, “Seize thy trim!” Robbers and attackers be damned! The pull of poo-nanny beckons and Udo’s just the man to do it.
There are many other songs within heavy metal that powerfully invoke feelings of fondness, amour, and getting friendly, but all of the above are an absolutely fine way to get in touch with your more sensitive side without having to endure the most nug-cutting and mood-killing thing of all…the dreaded power ballad. Life’s far too short for such Jovi-laden-pap and remember, true love starts with the self. Throw on some truly great music and let the loving begin!