In March, I tried to convince the world that some of Nickelback's songs are actually really heavy. Since that article didn't seem to change the metal world's view of the Canadian rockers, I'm back again for round two. My previous article focused primarily on Nickelback's sound, so let's take a look at their lyricism.

Professor of sociology Deena Weinstein suggests one can analyze lyrical themes in metal music by loosely grouping them into two categories: Dionysian and Chaotic. The first category, a reference to the Roman god of wine Dionysus, celebrates “sex, drugs and rock and roll” while the second category focuses on darker subjects such as hell, injustice, carnage and death. However, not every metalhead agrees with Weinstein, arguing that there are too many different categories of metal to make sweeping generalizations about lyrical themes. For example, power metal often focuses on fantasy and mythology, and romantic love and relationships are common themes in glam metal.

For the purposes of this article — and to once again prove to everyone that Nickelback are actually pretty heavy — I'm going to use Weinstein’s Dionysian and Chaotic categorization method to compare Nickelback’s lyrics to similar lyrics from some of the genre’s most popular bands.

  • “Coin for the Ferryman” - Feed The Machine (2017)

    The Lyric: 

    Too many fuses to light
    (Got kingdom come, on the run)
    Gonna steal, beg, and borrow
    A thousand fahrenheit and we're about to ignite

    What Makes it Metal: Dionysian

    Nickelback glamorize being a rock star in "Coin for the Ferryman," perhaps taking inspiration from one of the originals...

    “Living After Midnight” - Judas Priest

    My pulse is racing, hot to take
    And this motor's revved up, fit to break

  • “Silent Majority” - Feed The Machine (2017)

    The Lyric: 

    What if we don't give in?
    What if we traded all complacency for a voice that won't be ignored?

    What Makes it Metal: Chaotic

    One of the most important lyrical themes in heavy music is injustice, something that Nickelback didn't shy away from in many of the tracks on Feed The Machine. This theme was originally spearheaded by...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “War Pigs” - Black Sabbath

    Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor, yeah
  • “Hangnail” - Silver Side Up (2001)

    The Lyric: 

    It's not worth it for me, gets harder every time I call you
    This life you lead, like swimming in a shiny ballroom
    Next time you bleed, right about this time tomorrow
    Next time you steal, better ask before you borrow
    This label "thief," find a better title suited for you
    This tidal wave, is coming down upon you

    What Makes it Metal: Chaotic

    Many believe frontman Chad Kroeger is singing about the pain of watching a loved one struggling with addiction in "Hangnail." Ozzy Osbourne voiced similar sentiments about addiction in...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “Suicide Solution” - Ozzy Osbourne

    Wine is fine, but whiskey's quicker
    Suicide is slow with liqueur
    Take a bottle, drown your sorrows
    Then it floods away tomorrows
    Away tomorrows
    Evil thoughts and evil doings
    Cold, alone you hang in ruins

  • “Burn It To The Ground” - Dark Horse (2013)

    The Lyric:

    I’ve got a fist full of whiskey
    The bottle just bit me
    Oh, that shit makes me bat shit crazy

    What Makes it Metal: Dionysian

    This song is all about proudly being an absolute menace to society when you go out drinking, which is a common theme in a lot of metal music, including...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “Trashed” - Black Sabbath

    It really was a meeting
    The bottle took a beating

  • “Next Go Round” - Dark Horse (2013)

    The Lyric: 

    I wanna go until the neighbors all complain
    Because they hear somebody screamin’
    And they think we’re both in pain

    What Makes it Metal: Dionysian

    Covering the "sex" part of sex, drugs and rock and roll, Nickelback got pretty provocative in "Next Go Round," not unlike...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “Pearl Necklace” - ZZ Top

    She was gettin' bombed
    And I was gettin' blown away
    And she took it in her hand
    And this is what she had to say
    A pearl necklace
    She wanna pearl necklace

  • “Kiss It Goodbye” - Here and Now (2011)

    The Lyric:

    Money leads to fame and fame is the disease
    The latest epidemic, reality TV

    What Makes it Metal: Chaotic

    Here's another example of Nickelback speaking on societal issues, this time focusing on the media. It reminds us of a semi-recent release called...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “The Chapeltown Rag” - Slipknot

    Read all about it if you want to know
    Read all about what they want you to know
    Everything is God online, and it's as evil as it gets
    This is not a fuckin' trick, either follow or repent (no choice)
    Get infected by a vertical event

  • “Lullaby” - Here and Now (2011)

    The Lyric:

    Well, I know the feeling
    Of finding yourself stuck out on the ledge
    And there ain’t no healing
    From cutting yourself with the jagged edge

    What Makes it Metal: Chaotic

    "Lullaby" is an uplifting song for anyone struggling with their mental health. They reach out a proverbial hand to their audience just like...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “Walk with Me in Hell” - Lamb of God

    Take hold of my hand
    For you are no longer alone
    Walk with me in Hell

  • “Flat on the Floor” - The Long Road (2003)

    The Lyric:

    Not like I need to depend upon anyone
    Since I can see the lack of need for me to be here at all

    What Makes it Metal: Chaotic

    Nickelback showed a more vulnerable side in their lyrics for this track, similar to...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “Unloved” - Fit for an Autopsy

    I never cast the first stone
    But I’m buried in rubble
    The weight of a wretched world is enough
    To make any man crumble

  • "Figured You Out" - The Long Road (2003)

    The Lyric:

    I like your pants around your feet
    And I like the dirt that's on your knees
    And I like the way you still say “Please”
    While you're looking up at me
    You're like my favorite damn disease

    What Makes it Metal: Dionysian

    This is peak '80s mainstream metal lyricism about getting a blow job. Those lyrics could easily fit in...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “She Goes Down” - Mötley Crüe

    It’s like connecting the dots
    Start at the bottom, lick it to the top

  • “Never Again” - Silver Side Up (2001)

    The Lyric: 

    Father’s a name you haven’t earned yet
    You’re just a child with a temper
    Haven’t you heard “don’t hit a lady?”
    Kicking your ass would be a pleasure

    What Makes it Metal: Chaotic

    This song offers a sense of catharsis to listeners who may have experienced a similar situation, much like...

    The Metal Comparison:
    “Beaten in Lips” - Beartooth

    This is for the kids with the beaten in lips (yeah)
    Whose parents try to shut them up using their fists (yeah)
    Keep living loud and proud
    They never can hold you down

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