Metallica’s Fade to Black

One of my first encounters of profound lyrics was with “Fade to Black” of Metallica. I especially appreciate the candidness of the writing that has been present throughout a lot of Metallica’s songs. It shows the “demons” someone may live with. I encourage readers (if any) to watch the documentary “Some Kind Of Monster” that was made during a pivotal moment of the Metallica band. The artistic development, the cleansing of the “demons”, and the journey of finding oneself as an individual and as a part of a band.

I will once again focus on the lyrical content of this song, although the instrumental content is very rich as well.

Not that the text is not particularly positively oriented, although it may help create some comfort for some.

Life is a succession of both positive and negative events can emerge in our life. When negative events tend to follow each other over a long period of time (which is subjective), we may feel overwhelmed by these events. We can feel “a bit down” or “having the blues”, which is a natural process in life. These uncomfortable feelings tend to go away when happier events occur, or when the negative events are put in perspective and make place for opportunity. However, it may happen that people get stuck in the negative events and don’t see a way out. It is with this context in mind that we can start reading.

Life it seems to fade away
Drifting further everyday

The first sentence insinuates that life was lived, positive moments may have been present, but they seem to slip (or fade) away. In the next sentence, the antagonist tells us that life “drifts” away even further by every passing day implying that this situation has been going on for a while. Even more, prospect of a brighter future already seems to be absent.

Getting lost within myself
Nothing matters no one else

When feeling out of touch with life, we can get out of touch with ourself. Lost in thoughts, trying to analyse what is going on. What is going wrong. It is in this moment that one can easily feel misunderstood and lonely. Especially when there is no evident reason why there is a feeling of being out of touch with life. If you can’t understand it, how can anyone else? When you are too deep in the negative, unhappy feeling you may create a bubble. A bubble that keeps you focused on these questions, feeling like you are out of touch of everything. Nothing outside of the bubble matters. Nothing. No one else.

I have lost the will to live
Simply nothing more to give

Next we encounter the lack of energy of the antagonist. He has no will left to participate in life as he feels he has nothing more to give. Interestingly, this implies that he had something or some things to give. But he has worn out. Everyone has things to offer, constantly. We can wonder if the antagonist does not see what he has to offer, rather then effectively having nothing to offer. However, the result is the same for him. It does not matter to him.

There is nothing more for me
Need the end to set me free

The antagonist concludes that there is nothing more that life can offer him. The end of his life may after all be the solution. Note that up until this point, the lyrics mentioned “not living” and not to “ending life”. The two are different. We encounter a crucial turning point where the antagonist goes from one to the other. From passively seeing everything fade away, being passif in life, into actively severing ties with life.

Things not what they used to be
Missing one inside of me

Coming back to the antagonist’s flow of thought, he shares that things have changed. There is something missing, inside of him. Furthermore, he says he is missing “one” and not “something”. So he’s missing a person. But who?

Deathly loss this can’t be real
Cannot stand this hell I feel
Emptiness is filling me
To the point of agony
Growing darkness taking dawn

This paragraph goes to the heart of the antagonist’s feelings, the mental torture it gives him. How he cannot stand the hole it creates in his heart, leaving him with pain. And the situation is getting worse, the “darkness” is gaining on him, taking more and more place.

I was me but now, he’s gone

In this sentence, we get an answer to the question that was asked earlier. It is the antagonist himself who is missing. In this most interesting sentence, the antagonist reveals that he used to be somebody according to him. But that person is gone. Mid-sentence the “me” who is personal, close, well-known becomes a distant, impersonal “he. Note that there is a nuance here: he’s gone. Not replaced or changed. Gone. There is only emptiness now.

No one but me can save myself, but its too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try

There is only one person that can save someone from a state like this: oneself. But you only realise you are too deep when it’s too late, and there seems to be no escape. Furthermore, the antagonist has lost all his will. This includes the will to change his state, so the aspect of trying is lost on him as well. It goes further than his willpower, he is not even capable to reflect on the reasons he should try to save himself.

Yesterday seems as though it never existed

Suddenly, all the antagonist’s sorrows are in the past, behind him now. This passage gives hope on the letting go on the past.

Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye

However, this hope comes from the aspect of the final decision: leaving life behind. Strangely, this passage seems positive. The words have a soothing effect: greeting, warm. We are suddenly in the perspective of relief and a more optimistic place for the first time during the song. Despite the horror of the act, we are confronted with the determination of the antagonist, his sudden purpose and his positive vision of the ending.

The end. A fade to black.


P.S.: If you feel depressed and thinking about taking your life, please talk it over first by calling one of the many hotlines available in your country here

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