Black Sabbath: Music For the End of the World

If the end of days is upon us on December 21, in five short ones we may all be in line at the pearly gates.

Or at the gates of Hell. You never really can tell. If it was up to you, which would you actually choose? The question was on my brain while talking with a friend, whose birthday is actually on December 21. He shrugged nonchalantly when I asked if the world was going to end on his day of birth.

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Some of my more intense Catholic relatives (in their strict judgemental fashion) would argue that anyone who celebrates heavy metal should prepare to down a glass of flaming whiskey of Lucifer. But in true Apocalyptica fashion, which route would you actually want to take?

Think about it: You're staring down the barrel of eternity with Tim Tebow and Mother Teresa on one side, and Randy Rhoades and John Bonham on the other. It may seem like an easy choice. Party with the victims from Great White's pyrotechnic fire, and experience AC/DC's Bon Scott's drunken charades for eternity?

I think I'll opt for the downstairs option, hanging with Dimebag amidst sweet hammer notes and speed pedals. But there's also an appeal to the sweet sounds of angels singing and white silk bustiers on crystal stripper poles as opposed to demon chicks on fire, donning leather and bull whips.

Damn't ...can I just stay in purgatory if there's both options there?

Either way, I guess we better start getting mentally prepared. If the end of the world is indeed at hand, the pioneers of classic heavy metal, Black Sabbath have the necessary goods. The band's lyrical focus has always centered around the twin concepts of "heaven and hell."

"Black Sabbath"

If there were a soundtrack to the end of the world, this song would be the perfect intro to heaven or Hell.

"Hand of Doom"

While this track is actually about heroin, it's slow, looming, and creepy. Plus, if the world was ending, I don't know about you--I may want to get really, really high. "War Pigs"

It may not be Sabbath's lyrical best, but it all about the apocalypse, strewn with bodies burning, death machines, and a perpetual cycle of war.

"Hole In The Sky"

This may be Sabbath's best homage to the end of the world, with such lines as "I've seen the stars disappear in the sun" and "I've seen the western world go down in the east."

But if that doesn't get you, at least you can have some amusing thoughts with the more confusing "I'm living easy where the sun doesn't shine", which could be about living in a world with no sun from nuclear fallout, or about anal sex.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise