Metal isn't a genre necessarily known for its tradition of heartfelt ballads to all things romantic and adoring, but every band at some point has to get real about shit and talk about the deep stuff. What separates hard rock and metal's sense of intimacy from the mainstream is often eschewing the schmaltz of cheesy, heart-eyed bullshit for the real, down-and-dirty truth about life's greatest mysterious emotion: love. From Trent Reznor's lusty moans on Nine Inch Nails' magnum opus "Closer" to Avenged Sevenfold's questionable motivations on murder-happy "A Little Piece of Heaven," the tortured and obsessive nature of love along with its exaltation and pure joy is explored to its fullest in these tracks.
It says a lot about the love lives of metal heads to choose a banger like "Closer" as a top love song of the genre, but truly nothing could be more romantic than whispering softly to your partner: "I want to fuck you like an animal, mon Cherie." Trent Reznor kept it classy though and made sure to keep the Lord front and center, declaring that his filthy beloved helps him become closer to the almighty when they concentrate their physical passion. When two can engage in marital relations without losing sight of what's important (Jesus and making each other come), only then can they truly become one.
Beyond the heaviness or technicality Avenged Sevenfold like to display in songs, there's an underlying sense of theatricality and drama they gleefully take part in. "A Little Piece of Heaven" off their 2007 self-titled pushes this into overdrive — to the point where it sounds like it could be a musical number in a Broadway show. Lyrically, the song is a strange odyssey beginning with a man murdering his girlfriend over fear of losing her, and then doing some unspeakable things to her body. She returns as a spirit, takes revenge, and the two reconcile, joining in tandem to murder others around them. Yikes.
Black Sabbath are for lovers. On their debut self-titled album, song "N.I.B." possesses the classic Sabbath elements that made them doom icons (ie. heavy-as-fuck riffs), as well as many elements causal fans might not expect. Most overtly, Geezer Butler plays some of the funkiest bass he's ever done, giving the song a true sense of groove. Ozzy Osbourne's lyrics can be taken in multiple ways, as a straight-up expression of love for another, or as story of the antichrist. Whether it's another person or Lucifer, few songs express love as well.
Love and romance could not exist without the flip side of the coin, that being suffering and eternal pain — and nobody could contrast those elements with such longing grace as the endlessly sensual Peter Steele. The heart-wrenching, long-winded riffs punctuated by a piano line stripped straight from a Jane Austen novel, "Love You to Death" is the electrified gothic Victorian love letter of the modern world, and with Steele's tawdry reputation and sizable assets, it's quite possible he could literally love you all the way to death.
Pantera are remembered for their pulverizing riffs and aggressively confrontational performances, neither of which are avoided in their infamous ode to l'amour "This Love." Packed with depressively meandering riffs that culminate in an explosive vocal performance from groove-metal Romeo himself Phil Anselmo, the track chronicles what appears to be a toxic relationship built on violent obsession and turmoil. Less love song and more warning to those who may enter into the contract of a relationship, the tune plays out like a sour ballad of long-harbored heartbreak and the seething rage it can fester in the betrayed.