Saturday, February 04, 2006

War Pigs (1971) – Black Sabbath

As with Leonard Nimoy’s “Amphibious Assault,” “War Pigs” is an anti-Vietnam War statement that translates well to the present-day war in Iraq. A blues vamp finds a soldier staggering across a battlefield strewn with fresh corpses, wartime sirens blaring. Suddenly, power chords, bass, and drums detonate intermittently. Ozzy Osbourne, his youthful voice infused with condemnation, likens generals to witches and military leaders to sorcerers, who invoke black magic to unleash death and destruction. Guitar and bass chug out a lumbering rhythm, as if armies forge ahead toward their mutual annihilation. Bill Ward’s drum fills scatter in a volley of gunfire and flying shrapnel. Ozzy reprehends the heads of government, and he could just as well be speaking of the Bush administration (in a gripe vehemently spewed 34 years later in System of A Down’s “BYOB”), accusing them of sending the poor to die in senseless wars. Finally, the Apocalypse is nigh, Satan has his day, and the world leaders responsible for the global bloodshed face unfavorable Judgment.

While Christian fundamentalists would denounce Black Sabbath as satanic, it takes only a cursory read to realize that “War Pigs” is anti-war, warning of doom and reprobation, criticizing government for casually tossing away the lives of soldiers. Ironic, then, that the Religious Right would endorse the re-election of a hawkish George W.

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