You know what I also know a lot about, H.P. Lovecraft.
I wrote what I would consider to be my best Music In Review to date in 2013, and it was focused around Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu.” I combined my knowledge of heavy metal music and horror literature to create what I think is a nice commentary on both subjects. So, I feel like I should continue to play to my strengths.
I think it is safe to say that Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” is one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and I believe it is the most beloved album by Metallica fans. Basically no one needs me to elaborate further on that point.
Within the album “Master of Puppets” the two most popular songs are “Sanitarium” and the title track “Master of Puppets.” Obviously both songs are fantastic. “Sanitarium” is about being in an insane asylum, and poses the interesting situation that a sane person could be unjustly placed with the asylum and the life they live there within would drive them insane, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Master of Puppets” meanwhile is about drug addiction, and the drug is the master and user is the puppet, a very metal piece of poetry. Again though, no one needs me to point out how awesome these two songs are or what they are about, they are both infamous and everyone knows how fantastic they are.
Does everyone know “The Thing That Should Not Be?” I mean does everyone know what the thing that should not be is? Because I can help with that.
“The Call of Ktulu” may have been the first Lovecraft inspired song by Metallic but not the last. Traces of Lovecraft are in many of Metallica’s songs, and mostly with similar themes like insanity, like the afore mentioned “Sanitarium.” The song “The Thing That Should Not Be” is rare insofar that is explicitly mention beings and other things in it’s lyrics from Lovecraft’s works. Every line in fact appears to reference something from the Cthulhu mythos.
“Messenger of fear in sight,
Dark deception kills the light.”
This opening line is a touch vague, as there is a lot of dark deception in a lot of literature, horror and otherwise, Lovecraft or not. However, I suspect this is a reference to Nyarlathotep. Nyarlathotep is the message of the father god Azathoth. Nyarlathotep is a shape shifting, mind reading, trickster sort of like a much crueler and much more monstrous version of Loki from Norse mythology.
|"Deep One" by Kingovrat|
Pray for father, roaming free.”
This is a reference to the deep ones. In the book “Shadow over Innsmouth” it is discovered that the people of Innsmouth, a fictional new England town, obtain their wealth several generations ago when a sea captain made a deal with the deep ones, these andromorphic frogs with fish faces who dwell at the bottom of the ocean. In exchange for wealth, the deep ones wanted Innsmouth’s women, and thus the descendants of Innsmouth, the current generation, were mixed raced slimy hybrid frog people. The praying for father, roaming free, is possibly a reference to Cthulhu, the god the deep ones worship, however I suspect it is a reference to Dagon, the original frog/fish monster man Lovecraft created in the book of the same name. Also, Dagon is mentioned briefly in “Shadow over Innsmouth” where he is referred to as Father Dagon.
Lurking beneath the sea,
Great old one,
Hunter of the shadows is rising,
In madness you dwell.”
It is possible the chorus could be taken to be either Dagon or Cthulhu, but I suspect the mention of things like “immortal” and “great old one” is more likely to be in reference to the elder god Cthulhu, with the “forbidden site” being the lost city of R’lyeh, the very place Cthulhu rests.
|"The Crawling Chaos"|
Cult has summoned, twisted sound.”
The Crawling Chaos is the title and description used to describe the afore mentioned Nyarlathotep. While being a shapeshifter his true form is a tripodal worm like monster with no discernable neck or eyes, with a writhing mess of tentacles and indeterminate number of arms sprouting from his body. When taken a more human form he leads the cult of Azathoth.
“Out from ruins once possessed,
Fallen city, living death.”
This is most likely a reference to Cthulhu and the lost city of R’lyeh. I suppose it is possible that it could be reference to “The Nameless” city, another dead city and title of another Lovecraft book.
“Not dead which eternal lie,
Stranger eons death may die.”
This verse is a modification of:
“That is not dead can eternal lie,
And with strange eons even death may die.”
This passage is from the Necronomicon and appears to a few Lovecraft stories, most notably “The Call of Cthulhu,” and also “The Nameless City.” The passage is about the old gods, and how they cannot die and are merely resting, in the case of Cthulhu, which is doubtlessly the elder god Metallica is singing about, the great monster sleeps beneath the sea, undying and when enough time has passed he will awaken and horrors unimaginable will be wrecked upon the world. Even death may die? Maybe this is to suggest a fate far worse than death? Perhaps there is an end even to the elder gods if enough time and strange events were to pass?
|Cthulhu by unknown|
Face the thing that should not be.”
Given the strong presence of Cthulhu in this song, and his overall popularity and obvious influence on Metallica, the thing that should not be, could conceivably be Cthulhu.
However, the crawling chaos, Nyarlathotep was also mentioned, and it is sort of strange to say this, but Cthulhu is physically the most human looking of all of Lovecraft’s elder gods, the easiest to visual make sense of. So perhaps the thing that should not be is the cult leader, Nyarlathotep, in this true form as an incomprehensible mass of nonsense.
There is still another possibility, Azathoth. Azathoth true form is even harder to describe or make sense of than Nyarlathotep’s, and it is effectively his cult that has been mentioned whenever Nyarlathotep is referenced as the leader thereof in this song. Azathoth is the most powerful elder god, with it being believed that all of reality is simply his dream and should he ever awaken all of reality would cease to exist. That is certainly a thing that should not be.
We could also invoke Yog-Sothoth, whose appearance is an insanity inducing storm of tentacles, eyes and teeth, but he is not mentioned anywhere in the song, even tangentially, so it is highly doubtful Metallica is referring to him.
It is not entirely clear what the thing that should not be is, because there are so many things in Lovecraft’s works that should not exists even within the crazy continuity he had created. However, the best guess is probably Cthulhu.
So, let’s recap; the obvious, Metallica, great band, “Master of Puppets” is an amazing album and the title track and “Sanitarium” are great, probably the best songs off the album. The less obvious is “The Thing That Should Not Be” is possibly the third best song on the album “Master of Poppets,” and the very thing that should not be is most likely Cthulhu.
I hope I helped.
- King of Braves