You be asking yourself, “What the hell is a metal ’rise’ song?” Simply put, it’s a metal song where the word “rise” is prominently featured. As silly as this sounds, this post is 100 percent inspired by Hatebreed, Kingdom of Sorrow, Jasta frontman Jamey Jasta and his podcast. He frequently references a fictional regulatory agency called the “Lyric Police” that chastises metal bands and lyricists for recycling overused or played out lyrics. Someone even started Lyricpolice.net, where people can add hackneyed words and phrases to a database. “Rise” is the example that Jamey always cites as an overused lyric that needs to be retired. That got me thinking of all the metal songs I knew where “rise” was the central lyrical focus.
When it comes to the thematic evolution in metal lyrics, “rise” seemed to become more popularized in the 2000s during the New Wave of American Metal. Thrash and death metal in the ’80s focused on much doom-ier and gloomier subject matter—be it the reality of war, Reagan-era Soviet nuclear threat, or the more horror-fantasy fare that detailed the most gruesome concepts metalers could conjure. My theory is that the metal bands of the ’00s were inspired by ’90s hardcore, which itself was more driven to exalt positive and inspirational messages. Fittingly, Hatebreed is the best example of this in that Jasta’s lyrics centered on overcoming challenging life hurdles through personal growth and perseverance. Pun intended. Skip the life coaching session (or a Tony Robbins seminar) and let the metal help you “rise.”
Wovenwar – “All Rise”
These new jacks just started rising. Apparently, they weren’t aware that a report had been filed with the Lyric Police. I love this record and band, so they get away with just a warning citation. You can’t mess with the catchiness of this track. I’m actually surprised they didn’t try to sign with Rise Records. I can’t believe I’m starting with bad puns this early in the article.
Cavalera Conspiracy – “Terrorize”
No one has ever accused Max Cavalera of being verbose, but it’s exactly the lyrical simplicity that gives his songs such global appeal. The majority of the words in the song are “terror”, “rise”, “fuck”, and “kill”. I never studied poetry, but you had me at “fuck”. Lyrics aside, this song is just completely badass. On my scale of a tune making me want to kick an old man in the chest, “Terrorize” is definitely a strong 8.
Disturbed – “Rise”
I would consider myself a casual Disturbed fan, but I appreciate their best songs like “Remember,” “Guarded,” and I get down with “Stupify.” I wouldn’t count this 6/8 head swinger as one of my favorite Disturbed songs, but I’m trying to fill a list here. Sue me. I will say this: when David Draiman is talking about rising, he is not fucking around. You better start rising.
Hatebreed – “I Will Be Heard”
Although “I Will Be Heard” does not have the word “rise” in the title, Jamey Jasta was rising while you punks were still watching Saturday morning cartoons in your underoos. This track was Hatebreed’s first big hit, and inspired millions of up and coming risers. Hatebreed continued rising on 2003’s Rise of Brutality. As the OG riser, and the inspiration for the piece, I had to include Jamey Jasta on the list.
Throwdown – “We Will Rise”
It’s no coincidence that I followed up Hatebreed with Throwdown, because often Throwdown was accused of following closely in Hatebreed’s footsteps. Although there are some close sonic ties, Throwdown developed more bluesy Pantera influence, and deserves credit for being one of the first bands to mix nu metal and hardcore. This is definitely one of the rise-iest tracks on the list, and frontman Dave Peters motivational skills are so convincing that I feel like there should be Throwdown home workout videos.
Black Flag – “Rise Above”
From 1981, this is the most old school “rise” track on the list. Is this perhaps the original “rise”? I’m not an expert on the origins of punk or hardcore, but Black Flag seem to be the earliest example of what laid the blueprint on what real hardcore music would sound like for the next 20 years. The lyrics to “Rise Above” are pretty vague—it’s “us” against “them.” Who is “them”? Society, the government, the “man.” It’s doesn’t matter when it comes to rising. Just get up!
Killswitch Engage – “Rise Inside”
You won’t find too many lyricists more positive than Killswitch Engage’s Jesse Leach. His hardcore, punk roots and spirituality permeate only to uplift listeners. This has never been more evident than on Killswitch Engage’s classic Roadrunner debut, Alive Or Just Breathing (2003). The album starts by rising on “Numbered Days”, with the lyric “We will rise, this Babylon.” “Rise Inside” is the closing track, and bemoans themes of love and unity. The metal community was ready to hear this refreshing message.
Leeway – “Rise and Fall”
I owe my New Jersey hardcore buddies for exposing me to this crossover masterpiece. Leeway was already legends by the time I got into the scene around 1996. Sound-wise, Leeway had more in common with bands like Anthrax and D.R.I. than some of the hardcore bands they were associated with. If this epic, flawlessly produced song doesn’t get you pumped for the pit, then it’s time to check your pulse.
Lamb of God – “Again We Rise”
You just can’t fuck with this song. I can’t fight, but if I learn how to fight, and you challenge me on how badass this song is, I will fight you…with plenty of my friends around to help out if I’m outmatched. What makes “Again We Rise” standout is it’s the first time vocalist Randy Blythe actually sings, in key. There’s even a vocal harmony on the chorus that’s reminiscent of something Devin Townsend would do. Being from Virginia, maybe it means the South will rise. I don’t really care what it is that’s rising, this song is great. Remember what I said about fighting you.
Bad Brains – “Rise”
I would put this in the hidden gem category, as the record of same name only featured half of the original Bad Brains line-up. This is about poppy as we’ve ever heard Bad Brains, and I just love this song. The main riff is incredible, the vocals melodies are smooth and catchy as hell, and that guitar solo – that solo is unreal. It gives me goosebumps. This is one of the purest rises on the entire list.
Judas Priest – “Judas Is Rising”
“Judas Rising” is the opening track from Judas Priest reunion album with Rob Halford, Angel of Retribution (2005). This track not only showed that Judas Priest was also caught up in the “rise” frenzy of the 2000s, but that the creative status of the band’s reunification was undeniable. “Judas Rising” is not the sound of a band rekindling some old flame. It’s sound of a band with something to prove, and making it’s mark as a band of the moment. Judas was indeed rising.
Pantera – “Rise”
Most people forget that Pantera also got in on some of that “rise” action. Reading the lyrics, it’s amazing how positive and populist Phil Anselmo got on this track. The perception is that Anselmo from this era was mostly alpha male chest puffing, but “Rise” shows the enigmatic frontman espousing words that are completely antithetical to the rumors that Anselmo held some racist views. “Rise” is all love, hugs, and unity. And, it’s also one of the best songs from Vulgar Display of Power (1992) that doesn’t get enough shine.
Shadows Fall – “Still I Rise”
Shadows Fall were a little late to the “rise” game by the time 2009’s Retribution hit. The album served as a return to form, and “Still I Rise” immediately became one of the bands catchiest and most concisely well-written songs of their career. If you like Shadows Fall, this song contains all of the elements you love about the band. Excellent rise gents.
Sepultura – “Arise”
Unlike many of their American counterparts, Brazil’s Sepultura had real-world political strife and unrest to persevere through in their homeland. Their rise was not metaphorical. The odds that a bunch of poor kids from Brazil could emerge to be one of the biggest metal bands in the world playing extreme music ranged from improbable to impossible. Although a true thrasher, “Arise” brought a groove and rhythmic pulse equalled by none of their peers. No jokes here, “We shall arise!”
Arch Enemy – “We Will Rise”
I put Arch Enemy’s “We Will Rise” at #1, because like the band, this song just captures the distilled feeling of what metal is supposed to be. It’s simple enough to rock a stadium, but contains enough technical flair to keep the nerds satiated. It’s the epitome of what makes a song an anthem. The best metal music is supposed to make us rise; rise from whatever the hell is going wrong in our lives. The best metal should leave us with a feeling of empowerment. I feel it. I hope you do too.
I may have missed some crucial “rise” jams, so please include any suggestions in the comments.