February 23, 2018

The Judas Kiss by Metallica

Known for an aggressive death-metal style, Metallica has reigned for decades as one of the world’s most popular heavy rock bands. Fronted by charismatic blond singer James Hetfield, Metallica’s current lineup also features guitarist Kurt Hammett, drummer Lars Ulrich, and bassist Robert Trujillo.

In 2008, these American thrash-metal masters released their ninth studio album, Death Magnetic; the eighth track on this Rick Rubin-produced effort was The Judas Kiss. If you’re interested in learning more about The Judas Kiss lyrics and what they mean, you’ll enjoy this…

metallica posterThe Metallica Judas Kiss song, like many of the band’s tracks, is a journey into the heart of darkness. Themes such as frustration, alienation, and the abuse of power are explored. These concepts are woven into a Biblical allegory, where Christ’s betrayer, Judas, lies in wait, searching for new victims.

In the Metallica Judas Kiss lyrics, Hetfield sings from the point of view of a destroyer. One whose sole purpose is to inspire perpetual unrest, corruption, and unhappiness:  

Followed you from dawn of time
Whispered thoughts into your mind
Watched your towers hit the ground
Lured your children never found
Helped your kings abuse their crown

The first line of this Judas Kiss Metallica verse draws listeners back to Biblical times, telling the story of a dark spirit who encourages sin, destruction, hubris and death. This Satanic or Judas-like figure may also be a metaphor for all of the dark urges of mankind. The lyrics paint a picture of an evil creature that feels real disdain for the weaknesses and foibles of human beings:

In the heart of feeble man
Plant the seeds of my own plan
The strong and powerful will fall
Find a piece of me in all
Inside you all

When Hetfield sings “find a piece of me in all, inside you all”, he is reinforcing the idea that sin, weakness, and corruption are innate. In a sense, this Judas-like figure is trying to convince listeners that they too are doomed:

You don’t exist.
Cannot resist,
The Judas kiss.

The central theme of The Judas Kiss is that every man or woman will eventually fall prey to some temptation that will lead him or her into sin or disaster. In the lyrics, politics, monarchy, and the story of Jesus and Judas are all used to illustrate different types of power. Corruption through the “Judas kiss” can be spiritual or tangible – it comes down to “selling out”.

In fact, Metallica themselves have been accused of this very sin.

Most notably, their brash drummer, Lars Ulrich, waged a war against fans that pirated the band’s music. In the eyes of many of his critics, he had become what Metallica had always professed to despise…a corporate elitist who was now out of touch with the everyday lives of his listeners.

“It was a very odd time for me. I’m sitting there reading, Lars Ulrich is pro-record company, and I’m thinking, What Lars Ulrich is that? I’d just spent 20 years fighting against the f—in’ music industry! Metallica is anti-bootlegs.”
Metallica have weathered the storms; they’ve created a legacy despite tragedies (such as the death of former bassist Cliff Burton, and their guitarist’s battles with alcoholism). It’s possible that James Hetfield perceives himself as someone who has been tempted, defiled, and redeemed. He sings:

So bow down
Sell your soul to me
I will set you free
Pacify your demons
This verse may serve as a warning to listeners. If you don’t preserve your sense of self and stay on a higher path, you may be consumed by psychological demons.

When this happens, you will be lost…this self-destruction is the essence of the “Judas kiss”.