Sunday, May 12, 2013

Song Meaning: Fade to Black by Metallica

Artist: Metallica | Album: Ride the Lightening | Released: 1984
fade to black by Metallica from ride the lightening
First power ballad by the legendary heavy metal band Metallica, "Fade to Black" generated much controversy among hardcore thrash metal fans for its "bluesier", acoustic sound. But today the song is considered to be one of the best ballads in the history of rock n' roll.

The song pretty much deals with a person who's about to give up on life. To give a little bit of context on the timing, song was written when Metallica's gear was stolen ( this was the first of many times it they went through this ), and they were also thrown off of their manager's house for drinking and partying too much. So the group was really feeling down on themselves, and James Hetfield put their experience into words in the form a metal song.

Their first album, Kill 'Em All, gave them great recognition among 'underground' heavy metal movement, but it is their next album, Ride the Lightening, that would help them land on a major record label. "Fade to Black" played a major part in adding a new dimension to Metallica who always enjoyed making heavy noise. This song, unlike their previous material on the debut album, has both light and shade with a great mixture of blues rock and heavy metal. This was the first of many power ballads to be released by Metallica. It was also the first time the band stepped out of the conventional thrash metal roots, and distinguished themselves from the rest.

Lars has revealed that when Kill 'Em All was finished, band was obsessed with the concept of death. All the live stapes from Ride the Lightening deals with death of some form of death. In "Fade to Black", because of it's forceful interpretation of committing suicide, Metallica was accused of promoting death. "Death greets me warm / And now I'll just say good bye" was a little too sketchy, even for a heavy band. In their defense however, James Hetfield has said that the band has received hundreds of positive letters from fans who found some comfort in listening to it. The song is also one of Metallica most recognizable ones, and has been a live staple since its release. Furthermore Ride the Lightening is considered to be a major feat in heavy metal music.
Analysis of a few noteworthy lines: 

Simply nothing more to give6 - this literally means nothing to since their gear was stolen

There is nothing more for me7 - Hetfield lost his gear, and also, his mom had passed away a few year back. So he has absolutely nothing and nobody.

Missing one inside of me11 - "one" probably refers to God. James Hetfield was raised in a very conservative christian family, which he has openly talked about many times in the past.

Deathly lost this can't be real12 - lyrical way of saying, "dammit, I can't believe I lost my guitar and amp."

I was me, but now he's gone17 - "he's gone" means Hetfield is losing his mind

Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye23 - this is one of Metallica's strongest lines. "Death" is a personification of committing suicide, which welcomes James with open arms, and he is accepting the invitation by waving us all "goodbye." This line is so beautifully written, that every time I think about this, it gives me chills. This is where Metallica get as close to Shakespeare as possible, even at such young age of their careers now spans over 30 years! It's insane to even think how good they were in their mid twenties.
I'd REALLY like to what you think of this, especially if this has affect your life in some way. Feel free to leave a comment below. Also let me know if you find any cracking holes in my analysis.

  1. Life it seems will fade away
  2. Drifting further every day
  3. Getting lost within myself
  4. Nothing matters no one else
  5. I have lost the will to live
  6. Simply nothing more to give
  7. There is nothing more for me
  8. Need the end to set me free

  9. Things not what they used to be
  10. Missing one inside of me
  11. Deathly lost this can't be real
  12. Can't stand this hell I feel
  13. Emptiness is filling me
  14. To the point of agony
  15. Growing darkness taking dawn
  16. I was me, but now he's gone

  17. No one but me can save myself, but it's too late
  18. Now I can't think, think why I should even try

  19. Yesterday seems as though it never existed
  20. Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye


  1. Life is a battle, if you don't know how to defend yourself then you'll end up being a loser. So, better take any challenges as your stepping stone to become a better person. Have fun, explore and make a lot of memories.


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  3. I guess the song is just about a person's thoughts when going through a tough time in life.... It could also be about someone dealing with depression and trying to kill themselves if you do not contemplate the real background of the song.

  4. The instrumentals in this song really fit the lyrics and tone of the song. It starts off with a slow, acoustic, intimate riff to get you in the head of the person writing the song (in this context a suicidal person). It then builds into an emotional solo to show just how lonely and depressed this person is. Later on, the distorted guitar kicks in as it gets closer to the climax of the persons life (the taking of their life). "Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye", is given extra poignancy by it being the final line in the song, which makes you assume that they kill themselves "Right in front of you". The final solo's fast, exiting nature highlights the pleasure the person feels as their depression disappears. The choice to fade out the final solo shows the life fading from the persons body, as their vision "Fades to Black".

  5. This has been one of my favorite songs for over 25 years, back when Metallica had meaning and before they sold out.


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