All of my life I have loved listening to hard rock and metal. I absolutely love listening to ACDC, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and many other bands, both well-known and obscure. Granted, I will listen to bands from other genres, metal is just my preference As this semester has gone along I have begun to pick up reference to the New Testament in several songs that I never picked up on. I wish to discuss a few of those songs that either alluded to or just outright quoted scripture from Revelation.
The first song I wish to discuss is a rather obvious and polarizing song. Iron Maiden’s title track from the album Number of the Beast caused massive controversy when it was released in the 1980s as it was accused of being satanic, which, if I can digress for a minute, really is not. Rather, it is just a story of a guy walking from his house and encountering a satanic ritual. But, I guess that is a matter of interpretation.
Anyways, the intro to the song paraphrases a couple of verses. The intro goes like this, “Woe unto you oh Earth and sea. For the Devil sends the beast with wrath because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast for it is a human number. Its number is 666.” The first half of the intro, ending with ‘he knows the time is short’ is paraphrasing part of Revelation 12:12. The other half of the intro is paraphrasing Revelation 13:11.
Another song that alludes to Revelation is a song called Lake of Fire. This song, written by the Meat Puppets in 1984 and later covered by Nirvana in their appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1993, is a song that contemplates ‘where bad people go when they die. They don’t go to Heaven where the angels fly.’ This is of course an allusion to the Lake of Fire mentioned in Revelation 19 and 20.
Another band that makes a lot of allusions to the Bible in general, including Revelation, is U2. Granted, they’re not one of my favorites but I do listen to them from time to time. They have had several songs that have made allusions to the book. In their song Fire they would begin each stanza with an allusion to Revelation 6, in which ‘the sun is burning black, the moon is running red, and the stars are falling down.’ Another song from their album The Joshua Tree, called Where the Streets Have No Name, makes an allusion to Revelation 22:1. This song states, “Although I’m sure there are several layers of meaning to this image, I cannot imagine someone who knows the Bible as well as Bono describing an ideal place in terms of “streets” without thinking of the description of the great street in the kingdom of Heaven.”
The book of Revelation has made a huge impact in the music genre. It would seem that allusions to the book are found just about everywhere.