Over the years, songwriters, wanting to prove the mastery of their art, have tried to add a whole new meaning to their songs by including hidden messages within the lyrics. Probably one of the most famous cases of backmasking is The Eagles' Hotel California.
Many of their fans and detractors have created an entire web of speculations around the true meaning of their lyrics. Some of them said that if you played the song backward, you would hear the Satanic mass blazing in your speakers. Other have argued that this song actually talks about cocaine addiction or mental illness.
However, after much unrest among the public, the band intervened to clarify the meaning of their song, stating that “Hotel California” is really about the hardship of living in the South part of California during the 70s.
Here are some other songs, metal as a genre, that have some of the most baffling hidden messages.
1. Slayer – Hell Awaits
Slayer’s Hell Awaits was released back in 1985, and it is the cover song of the album with the same name. As a fun fact, Hell Awaits is the second studio album released by Slayer, who identified itself as being a thrash metal band.
Apart from the obvious biblical setting, where Hell clashes with Heaven, a theme which can be interpreted in various ways, the song also has various backmasking messages.
For instance, if you play the intro backward, you can repeatedly hear the phrase “Join Us!”. The same intro contains another easter egg, in the form of a whispered “Welcome Back!” According to the Slayer, the “Welcome back!” phrase heard in the song’s intro, is the band’s way of thanking their fans for the second album.
2. Tool – Intension
Described as probably as the most unusual metal bands in the history, Tool was formed back in 1990. Identifying themselves as an alternative metal/progressive rock band, Tool has gone to great lengths to promote their unusual musical style, having to cope with any imaginable scenario, including rejection from the public and censorship.
Although most of their songs are packed with subliminal messages, probably the most quoted song for backmasking is "Intension," from their 2006 album 10,000 Days.
At the beginning of the song, hidden among whispers and various electronic instruments, is the following message:
Listen to your mother. Your father is right. Work hard. Stay in school. Listen to your mother. Your father is right. Listen to your mother. Your father is right.
If you want to hear Tool’s hidden message, pay close attention to the intro. You might want to grab a pair of HQ earphones for this.
3. Darkthrone – As Flittermice as Satan’s Spy
Darkthrone’s history can only be described as being full of ups and downs. Formerly known as the Black Death, this band was formed in 1986, and initially chose to observe a more black metal style. After a while, the band started to incorporate elements from other musical genres in their repertoire. Their most iconic albums are considered to be the Transylvanian Hunger, Under A Funeral Moon, and A Blaze in the Northern Sky.
Although the band’s songs are lined up with obvious anti-church references, one of their song has won notoriety due to its hidden message.
The piece is called As Flittermice as Satan’s Spy, and features on their 1994 album called Transylvanian Hunger. If you listen closely to the song, at the end of the piece, you’ll distinctly hear the words: “In the name of God, let the churches burn.”
4. Cradle of Filth – Dinner at the Deviant’s Palace
Cradle of Filth is a British metal band, which formed in 1991. Although initially they’ve identified themselves as belonging to the black metal genre, they’ve moved on to combine elements from other musical genres such as symphonic black metal and gothic metal to obtain their signature style.
As they’ve declared throughout interviews, their primary sources of inspirations are gothic poetry, mythology and horror films.
Whereas hidden messages are concerned, one their song generated quite a controversy, being considered an all-out call to the Prince of Darkness. The song is called Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, and it features on their 2001 album called Bitter Suites to Succubi.
If you listen closely, at the beginning of the song, you will hear some strange noises, accompanied by a reverse reading of Our Father.
5. Iron Maiden – Still Life
Iron Maiden is perhaps one of the most iconic bands in the history of heavy metal. Formed back in 1975, the band has recorded over 30 albums, not to mention live albums, and no more than seven distinct compilations.
At the beginning of their song entitled Still Life, on their 1983 album called Piece of Mind, you can distinctly hear the lines:
“Hmm, Hmm, what ho sed t’ing wid de t’ree bonce. Don’t meddle wid t’ings you don’t understand”.
And the whole thing ends with a belch. For disambiguation, the band declared that the slurry passage belonged to none other than Nicko McBrain, the drummer of Iron Maiden. According to the band, at the time of the recording, their drummer was so drunk that he began to impersonate Idi Amin Dada. McBrain actually said:
“What ho,' said the monster with the three heads, don’t meddle with things you don’t understand.”
6. Iced Earth – Damien
Iced Earth's hit parade includes eleven albums, three live albums, EPs, and compilation since the band was formed back in 1985. Originally, the band was named Purgatory, but the band’s songwriter and drummer decided to change the name before releasing their debut album back in 1990. One of their songs called Damien, which features on their 2001 album named Horror Show, is famous for its hidden messages which are able to conjure up some highly disturbing graphic images.
If you play the intro of the song in reverse, you will be able to hear the following lines:
“Your pain on the cross was but a splinter compared to the agony of my father. I will drive deeper the thorns into your rancid carcass, you profaner of Isis. You have done nothing.”
7. Slipknot – Iowa
Slipknot is, without a doubt a tint of color in the black-and-white history of heavy metal. Formed in 1995, in Iowa, by Shawn Crahan and Paul Gray, Slipknot knew even from the start how to baffle and draw out its public, thanks to their energetic lyrics, near-to-madness live shows, and “colorful” outfits. So, to keep up with their tradition, Slipknot has included a hidden message in nearly each of their songs. Probably the most famous hidden message can be found in the song Iowa, which features on the eponymous album. To discover the Easter Egg, you must play the song backward. If you do this, you will hear the vocal saying “Don’t look at me.”
8. Grim Reaper – Final Scream
Another great heavy metal band from a period known as the British Heavy Metal-Era, Grim Reaper continues to fascinate with its fast-paced guitar solos and inspired lyrics.
One of their songs called Final Scream, which features on their 1985 album called Fear No Evil, has quite the hidden message. If you listen closely, you will hear the voice of a demon child saying quite clearly “See you in Hell!”. The line can be heard at the beginning and the end of the song.
9. Mötorhead – Nightmare/The Dream Time
Formed in 1975, Mötorhead is considered by the critics as that one heavy metal band which managed to revitalize the whole genre back in the late ’70. Like other giants out there, Mötorhead managed to record no more than 23 studio albums, countless live recordings, Eps, and compilations. Some of their most famous albums are considered Ace of Spades, Overkill, and Bomber.
One of their songs, entitled Nightmare/The Dream Time, which is part of the 1991 album called 1916, has one of the deepest hidden messages out there. Over the years, the fans of the band speculated that the message is directed towards the Parents Music Resource Center.
If you listen closely to the songs, you will hear a couple of dispersed passages, which don’t make any sense on their own. Here’s what you’ll get once you put them together.
“Now tell me, about your miserable little lives. I do no subscribe to your superstitious, narrow-minded flights of paranoia. I and people like me will always prevail! You will never stifle our free speech in any country in the world, ‘coz we will fight forever. In a single stroke, you poor, stupid running dogs. Why is it…”
10. Judas Priest – Love Bites
Formed in 1969 in Birmingham, Judas Priest has been awarded the title of the King of Metal by MTV. Over the years, Judas Priest has had its ups and downs, including a public scandal, which revolved around a subliminal message. The band was put on trial after the subliminal messages contained by Better by you, better than made allegedling two teens commit suicide after hearing the song. The band was found not guilty.
Love Bites is also known for its subliminal message. If you listen closely to the song, you will hear Rob Halford saying: “In the dead of the night, love bites.”
These are perhaps one of the most popular examples of how classical heavy metal pieces can hide a message in plain sight. Tune in more closely, and you may learn some new things about your favorite band.