Want to write a song about nuclear armageddon? Here’s some source material

Talking about lyrical content, Napalm Death was on a BBC special back in 1989 (video is below) and explained that, at the time, it was fashionable to cover social subjects in metal song lyrics. “The typical cop-out is writing about nuclear war,” said guitarist Bill Steer. “You can’t really slag off bands for doing it. If they want to do that, then fine, but I think it’s just too easy to write songs about that now,” because then bands can please both the metal fans by writing “shocking” lyrics, he said, “while at the same time kind of pandering to the interests of those who actually want to read something that has some meaning.”

When considering what to put into the lyrics for your metal band, if you’re not going to take Steer’s point, or if you think enough time has passed since then, Eos has a new piece about the climate effects of a nuclear war. In it, Sarah Derouin talked to atmospheric science doctoral candidate Joshua Coupe and reported on a new paper about the destruction that would follow a nuclear war. She wrote that Coupe and the rest of the research team’s results “can be summed up in one word: grim.”

The piece contains plenty of phrases that might work in a metal song lyric:

“smoke from smoldering cities”
“urban fires would burn everything in sight”
“a dark decade of winter”
“major climatic trauma”
“the power of black carbon”
“nuclear winter”
And a quote from Coupe: “The decisions between generals could affect the entire world for years.”

Mushroom cloud photo: U.S. Department of Energy


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