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Valentine's Day can be a divisive holiday. Some believe Valentine's Day celebrations are odes to consumerism. Others critique Valentine's Day for enforcing heteronormativity. Aficionados of Valentine's Day insist that Valentine's Day is about showing loved ones that they are valued and appreciated.
Why not skip the debate and listen to heavy metal music instead? Because Valentine's Day is ostensibly a celebration of love, here are some heavy metal songs looking at the darker side of romance:
"10 Silver Bullets," Swallow the Sun
Swallow the Sun is a doom and melodic death metal band from Finland. Their song "10 Silver Bullets," from Songs of the North Vol I, II, & III, is absolutely perfect for Valentine's Day. The first verse mentions the "cupid of Lucifer," as well as the protagonist's love interest. Said love interest is poised and ready to stab burning spears straight into the protagonist's heart.
"10 Silver Bullets" provides the listener with the opportunity to unpack the various symbols and metaphors present within the lyrical content. If you wish, you can skip Valentine's Day dinner and instead discuss your own interpretation of this tune with your loved ones.
Sacrifice and compromise are often used in the context of describing functioning romantic relationships. Amorphis eloquently chronicles what it means to sacrifice "before the winter's gale," making "Sacrifice" a timely tune for Valentine's Day 2016 (as arctic air is anticipated to hit the Midwest, South, and East Coast).
"Love You to Death," Type O Negative
"Love You To Death" debuted on Type O Negative's 1996 classic, October Rust. When I was preparing to present on "Wolf Moon (Including Zoanthropic Paranoia)" at the inaugural Legion of Steel Metal Festival and Conference in Berkeley, California, I played October Rust almost non-stop. I love this track to death. October Rust as a whole has themes of eroticism, romance, despair, and demise, making it the perfect album for Valentine's Day.
"Love Me Forever" by Motörhead
Leave it to Motörhead to make love as metal as hell. This power ballad discusses the importance of honesty in relationships, while simultaneously describing love itself as being a roguish villain. Rest in Power, Lemmy.
"Is This Love," Whitesnake
In "Is This Love," David Coverdale sings about the dream like feelings that often accompany a burgeoning romance. The outdated imagery in "Is This Love" is not progressive at all, as it heavily features Tawny Kitaen dancing in some epic 1980's outfits. Regardless of this fact, the lyrical content of this song makes it perfect for a Valentine's Day celebration.
"Lempo" is by Korpiklaani, which means that it is sung entirely in Finnish. This does not make "Lempo" any less applicable for Valentine's Day. The fiddler for Korpiklaani, Tuomas Rounakari, states on the song's YouTube page that "Lempo" was inspired by the fiery god of fertility, as well as the spells that were uttered by Lempo's followers to ensure success in their love lives. Rounakari goes on to explain that sexuality in Finnish mythology is unique, designated by the fact that spells to improve procreation are often not present. Instead, the spells in Finnish mythology are focused on increasing luck in love itself, or increasing stamina in the bedroom. Why not try praying to Lempo this Valentine's Day and see what happens?
"The End of Heartache," Killswitch Engage
This song is an oldie but a goodie. I included "The End of Heartache" not only because it is a great tune that discusses being heartbroken (with an underlying powerful message of hope and perseverance), but because of the importance of Killswitch Engage in redefining masculinity and femininity in heavy metal music as a whole. When I was in Helsinki last year at the 2015 Modern Heavy Metal Conference, I attended Dr. Rosemary Hill's presentation on understanding women fans' pleasure in hard rock and heavy metal. Dr. Hill explained that in her study, when female metal fans listened to heavy metal, they expressed feelings of romance, travel, and specifically being "lifted" from the ordinary humdrum of the day to day. Notably, one female fan told Dr. Hill that Killswitch Engage's third studio album, The End of Heartache, was her breakup buddy.
So, dear reader, if you have been abandoned by love during the time of this Hallmark Holiday, play "The End Of Heartache," as this song is proven to be a tried and true heartbreak companion. If you are interested in reading more about Dr. Hill's work, an entire chapter on this study can be found in the forthcoming Global Metal Music and Culture.
Intrepid readers, do you have any songs that you play on Valentine's Day? Fellow metal aficionados, did I miss some of your favorite tunes? Are you mad because I did not include Black Sabbath's "N.I.B.," because nothing is more metal than a love song from Satan? I'd love to hear your favorite love songs from any genre, so please comment with them below!