Personal top-5 bands with superb lyrics

Do you care about lyrics in metal songs?

  • Yes

    Votes: 5 62.5%
  • No

    Votes: 3 37.5%

  • Total voters


New Metal Member
Aug 19, 2020
I've started my metal journey with Iron Maiden and they seem to have spoiled me with how varied their songs are in the lyrical department. Their lyrics are ranging widely from history to science fiction to real world drama to whatever else catches Steve Harris' mind's eye.

They also know how to rhyme. Non-rhyming lyrics just don't do it for me, I can't help but think it's a sign of laziness. Also don't care for overly vague lyrics, a prime example of that is Dark Tranquility - love the music, love some songs, but most of them I just can't get into since I don't know what the hell the song is talking about.

Since then, I've been struggling to find more bands that manage to combine great music with great lyrics (three cornerstones of which are, to me - interesting theme, rich vocabulary and rhyming).

So here are my top-5 bands that do that:
  1. Iron Maiden - I've yet to come across a band that outdoes them in the combination of the three.
    Hear the rime of the ancient mariner
    See his eye as he stops one of three
    Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests
    Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea...
  2. Cradle of Filth - GREAT rhyming, astonishingly large vocabulary (for a metal band), somewhat limited subject matter. Unfortunately, not a huge fan of the music itself. In fact, I think it's a shame how sometimes you can't even understand what Dani is singing, with some bands it's a blessing, here it's more of a curse.
    From the woods, Pendragon-born, I rose Arcturius.
    A proud, audacious king mantled in the vehemence of lust.
    Death and destiny undaunted me, I drew a throne divided.
    In awe of the glorious battles won, my dark Goddess provided.
    Then treachery, a wingless beast, came crawling to my court.
    And now I lie at cursed Camlann, from wounds a traitor wrought.
  3. Ancient Rites - concerned mostly with history, I find their texts to be masterful in rhyming and vocab.
    "Future emperor Tiberius, do not cross the Rhine
    On this natural border Rome should draw its line"
    Symbol of preservation, of Germania's freedom
    Saved the untamed land of the Northern Heathen

    Emperor Augustus by his loss driven to despair:
    "Give me back my legions! Oh Varus, I do declare!"
  4. Nightwish - throughout the albums they touched upon many themes and I always found their lyrics to be well-crafted
    Floating upon the quiet hydrogen lakes
    In this ambrosial merrry-go-round they will gaze
    Ephemeral life touched by a billion-year-show
    Separating the poet from the woe
  5. Scar Symmetry - though not the most diverse, nor the most eloquent on the list, their songs can often surprise with interesting turns of phrases and rhymes. Science fiction, horror and cosmic trappings help.
  • Be'Lakor - great vocab, good rhyming, seemingly (can't know for sure on account of not understanding what the songs are about!) varied subject matter, but the text is too vague and convoluted for my taste.
  • Forefather - Anglo-Saxon pride and various related topics, just complex enough to be enjoyable for me.
  • Bal-Sagoth - quite a tremendous band in all aspects, Byron Roberts has created a vast landscape where well-known fictional creations neighbor his own fantasies. I find most of the songs to be TOO immersed in story-telling, with spoken word interjections appearing way too often.

What are your favorite lyricists among metal bands, especially when it comes to rhyming and subject matter?
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It is hard to top Iron Maiden. Not sure they meet the criteria for rhyming but I appreciate the world building and lyrics of Bal-Sagoth, especially the spoken word parts of their songs.
Hexen - Being and Nothingness,
Metallica - And Justice for All,
Vektor - Outer Isolation,
Black Sabbath - Paranoid,
Symphony X - The Odyssey

are five albums with lyrics I got into in their time
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It is hard to top Iron Maiden. Not sure they meet the criteria for rhyming but I appreciate the world building and lyrics of Bal-Sagoth, especially the spoken word parts of their songs.
I actually agree, rhyming doesn't seem to be their top priority.

Slough Feg, Reverend Bizarre and Manilla Road tend to have lyrics I find engaging.
It's funny, I posted a similar thread in a "suggestions" thread on a forum a while back and got strong recommendations for (Lord Weird) Slough Feg, too. I haven't gotten to them yet, too much still in the backlog, but this definitely moves them up. Also just given a listen to Manilla Road on Youtube, pretty nice classic heavy metal :headbang:
Lyrics are incredibly important to me. Pig Destroyer are masters when it comes to lyrics, which can be quite surprising given the type of music they play. Napalm Death's Barney is also one of my favourite lyricists of all time. Dissection's lyrics were pretty poetic before the release of their last album, Reinkaos, and they really appeal to me.