10 of the most lyrically poignant songs of the year

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As stated in the conclusion to my review of WITHIN TEMPTATIONS’s new album, “Bleed Out, “music is not meant only to entertain us but also to provoke a thought, an idea, or even a reaction.” This year many other bands, besides the Dutch symphonic metal icon, put out thought-provoking songs about either the state of the world or songs that we can relate to on a personal note. Here are some songs from this year that we have found most direct and impactful, on a variety of topics:

Sevendust – Everything

This song is all about staying true to yourself while in a relationship with someone who, for some reason, wants to change you. Should you try to act differently to please your partner, or should you just be unapologetically yourself regardless of the situation? This is the main dilemma that the lyrics ponder going from such assertive lyrics like “I’m gonna make you believe / That I can be everything, yeah / I can be anything” to the polar opposite “I won’t change a fucking thing / Don’t walk away from me” capturing the essence of wanting the relationship to work out while being honest about personal needs.

Kamelot – One More Flag in the Ground

This straightforward power metal anthem has an equally straightforward message for people dealing with any type of disease or illness, including mental health issues. This message is about celebrating the small victories, celebrating each new step toward a healthy and happy life. The band has this to say about the release: “the main focus of this video and song was to have a metaphor for the struggles of fighting disease or illness, whether it being physical or mental. Each step of healing and recovery is another Flag in the Ground. With every little step, one more victory won… “

Metallica – Screaming Suicide

Relating to mental health and the variety of negative/self-destructive thoughts one has over the course of a lifetime, the thought of suicide is the bleakest of them all because it means not only the loss of any and all hope in a better tomorrow, but also the fact that a person is in much more pain than they can bear. Through the message of this song, METALLICA “addresses the taboo word of suicide. The intention is to communicate about the darkness we feel inside. It’s ridiculous to think we should deny that we have these thoughts. At one point or another, I believe most people have thought about it. To face it is to speak the unspoken. If it’s a human experience, we should be able to talk about it. You are not alone.”

Angra – Gods of the World

The Brazilian progressive metal band made sure to translate the message of this song with a video that is as poignant as it is disturbing. In the band’s own words, “this video is a reflection about who we are really following as leaders and who we are unconsciously worshipping with our acts. People might believe that they worship God and follow specific values, but in reality, they have other priorities such as work, social position, food, social media, pleasure, etc. Our highest values play a very small part in the way we behave […] So the gods that rule the world nowadays are the chaos within our own habits, and we’re confused searching for vain experiences to fulfill our lonely and empty souls.”

Lacrimas Profundere – Breathing Souls

Who would have thought a Gothic metal band could release a song about climate change and its consequences on Mother Earth? Yet, here we are, with this stand-alone single LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE put out this year for their 30th anniversary. Here’s a bit of trivia relating to this one: it’s a B-side track from the band’s 2019 album, “Bleeding the Stars,” that was co-written by Oliver Schmit, Chris Harms (LORD OF THE LOST), and Tobias Schönemann (THE VISION BLEAK). The end result is a melancholic yet melodic piece with a simple message: “Relieve the hurt from Mother Earth” that Julian Larre so beautifully sings in the chorus.   

Xandria – Two Worlds

Continuing on the same idea as the above song but with a slightly positive twist to the narrative, XANDRIA’s epic opening track of their new album, “The Wonders Still Awaiting,” presents us with a choice between two worlds: “a dystopian one, if we continue on this way into reversing the progress of civilization and destroying the environment which we are living in; or a better one, in which we can see the wonders that might still be awaiting for mankind in the future. But the bridge between those worlds is getting frail.” The choice is ours, and we must choose wisely!

Soen – Memorial

With the war in Ukraine still raging on and a new one in its incipient phases in Israel, this song is even more impactful as it showcases, both lyrically and visually, the ways war and combat change the psyche of the soldiers who come back home with post-traumatic stress disorder. Drummer Martin Lopez said this “is a song to remind us of the victims of the power games that our so-called leaders play” while singer Joel Ekelöf detailed the idea by saying that “it’s about PTSD and the effect war has on people like you and me that are sent to kill and die and have to pay that price for the rest of their lives.”

Fixation – Ignore the Disarray

This is a bit of a problematic entry, as religion and religious oppression are usually sensitive topics that mostly deal with different cultures that we might not fully understand and personal choices. Still, this song is on the list because the band are brave enough to address such delicate issues. While it may not be as vicious as Mark Jansen’s songs on this topic that he released with both AFTER FOREVER and EPICA under the encompassing title “The Embrace that Smothers,” however, “Ignore the Disarray” still has a potent message in this respect. To quote from the band themselves, “this song is about those with a desire to control other people. It’s not about religion itself, but about those who use religion or their perception of reality to justify oppression, hate, and control.”

Daughtry – Artificial

In an age of such technological advancements, the rise of AIs (Artificial Intelligence) should come as no surprise. Still, there are many unanswered questions about the full impact AIs can have on society, and DAUGHTRY’s single tackle these issues head-on. Talking about the song’s inspiration, Chris Daughtry said that it’s “about the potential nightmare that AI could become and the idea that everything and everyone could eventually be replaced, essentially to perfection, and rendered obsolete.” Whether that type of society would be a dystopia or utopia remains to be determined, point is that “while there are plenty of applications where AI can improve our lives and assist in many areas of creativity, I feel it’s imperative that we find a way to protect our musicians, actors, writers, and all creative outlets from being destroyed.”

Within Temptation – Bleed Out

I could have chosen any song off of WITHIN TEMPTATION’s album, but somehow I gravitate more towards this one because of its message and story. The opening line of the song, “God Bless, she walks in her last winter,” sends shivers down my spine every time the chorus comes around, and it’s especially powerful knowing that this song is “based on the story of a woman in Iran who was murdered because she refused to wear a hijab – Mahsa Amini.” With this song, the band wants to shed light on “the individuals oppressed by regimes that wield power to suppress their citizens and dismantle societies in the process. By raising awareness around social issues such as the plight of those oppressed by oppressive regimes, we aim to shed light on the inherent strength and resilience of individuals who stand up against injustice.”

BONUS: Floor Jansen – My Paragon

Probably the year’s most beautiful and empowering song, “My Paragon” is all about celebrating yourself and all the things you’ve achieved in life. In Floor Jansen’s own words, this song “might inspire you as well to be proud of yourself more often. That makes you take a moment to appreciate where you are in life. There will always be more to achieve, a better way to do things, an improvement to be made on you. Always! That is why it is so important to take moments, in the here and now, to stop and say; ‘look at me now’!” What a beautiful message it sends out!

Written by Andrea Crow