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War Pigs by Black Sabbath

Album: ParanoidReleased: 1970
  • This song is about man's desire to kill and destroy. Sabbath got the idea from war stories they heard when they did a show at an American Air Force base during a tour of Europe. They wrote the song when they were in a grim deserted place in Zurich where they were playing for a small sum of money to an even smaller audience. (Source: Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath)
  • The original name for the song was "Walpurgis," which is a festival with origins in Paganism and Witchcraft. Ozzy released the original version on his 1997 album The Ozzman Cometh. Click the lyrics link above to view the words. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Matt - Langhorne, PA
  • The band wanted to use this as the title of the album, but the record company thought it was too controversial and made them use "Paranoid," another song on the album, instead.
  • This is one of many Black Sabbath songs that is often misinterpreted as evil. The song speaks out against the horrors of war.
  • On the US albums, this is listed as "War Pigs/Luke's Wall." "Luke's Wall" is another name for the end of the song.
  • On the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity In Black, Faith No More contributed a live cover version. Faith No More also covered this on their 1989 album The Real Thing. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Aimee - Auckland, New Zealand
  • War Pigs has been used as the name of various Black Sabbath tribute bands. We found one in Australia and another in Long Island, NY.
  • Ozzy's former guitarist Zakk Wylde did a cover of this song after he went solo. Other artists who did covers: Slaves on Dope, Pig, Ether, Faith No More, Weezer, Boss Tweed, Red House Painters, Members Only, Badlands, Soulfly, Vital Remains, Ween, Sheavy, Gov't Mule, Phish, Sacred Reich, Alice Donut, Flores Secas, Banda Arie, and Flores Secas. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for above 2
  • This song is used for an encore in the video game Guitar Hero II for Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mass, MA
  • When the Sacramento band Tesla recorded this in 2007, lead guitarist Frank Hannon added a peace of Jimi Hendrix flavored "The Star Spangled Banner" to start the song." It is the final track on Tesla's Real To Reel 2-disk cover album, which is a tribute to Tesla's mentors. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Robin - Orangevale, CA
  • The song starts with the lyric, "Generals gathered in their masses. Just like witches at black masses." Bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler was asked during a 2013 interview with Spin magazine why he used "masses" twice rather than coming up with a different word. "I just couldn't think of anything else to rhyme with it," he admitted. "And a lot of the old Victorian poets used to do stuff like that - rhyming the same word together. It didn't really bother me. It wasn't a lesson in poetry or anything."
  • The song soundtracked a TV spot previewing the 2014 movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire.
  • The song was inspired by the Vietnam War. Geezer Butler recalled to Mojo in 2017: "Britain was on the verge of being brought into it, there was protests in the street, all kinds of anti -Vietnam things going on. War is the real Satanism. Politicians are the real Satanists. That's what I was trying to say."
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Comments: 64

There is no god.
This song is f--king great.
Black Sabbath are not evil.
Jodie - Xx
I was always told this was a Satanic song, but it's actually an anti-war song. The devil puts evil thoughts into men's heads and it makes them go to war. When the world comes to an end, if the ones who caused war don't repent, they will go to hell. Not that war isn't necessary at times. Would God have us stand by and let an evil monster like Al Asad gas his own people? At the end of the song when he sings, "Satan laughing spreads his wings . . ." As a Christian, I believe the devil is tickled to death when war happens. In every war there is death and destruction. The devil loves that.Crayola - Knoxville, Tn
Lest we forget, war to the average Brit of Ozzy's generation is VERY different than it is to the average American. Britain was bombed relentlessly during the war and most of its major cities received serious bomb damage. It took decades to rebuild. Everybody, old and young, served in some capacity directly in the war effort and it was a rare family, indeed, that did not have at least one, if not several, relatives killed or severely wounded during the war. Heck, Britain remained on a strict rationing program well into the 1950s, whereas, Americans stopped rationing, pretty much the day the war ended, and immediately started building houses, cars and TVs for the returning GIs to buy. In other words, growing up in Birmingham in the 1950s meant that the boys in Black Sabbath really knew what war was... not because they'd read about it or learned about it in school, but because they lived with the very impacts all around them every minute of every day.Ken - Philadelphia, Pa
Probably a dumb question,but is the band's name after the Mario Bava directed/Boris Karloff starring anthology film of the same name?Michael - Santa Cruz, Ca
hey lance! ur one dumb sob. the brit is right. YOUR the reason ppl think america is dumb. im going into the ear_rack as u so colorfully misspronouced it and i dnt appreciate u running ur mouth. or mayb ur mind will change if they fly a plane into ur house? huh? what do u think?Rosco - St. Clair, Mo
I am a christian an I like this song.Alan - Rock!!!!!!!!!!!, Tx
Lance, Malibu, CA:
the reason people think Americans are dumb is because they al;ways claim to be correct when - like you - they're not. The American way to pronounce Iraq is "eye-rack" and the English way is "eerack" and IRAN is "eye-ran" and "eeran" respectively...
Luke - Manchester, England
I remember listening to this in my car when I was four years old. It rocked! This is probably my favorite Black Sabbath song, the riffs are just hypnotizing.Marley - Springfield, Nj
I'll never forget a confrontation with my Dad over this song. He is and was a devout Jehovahs Witness. I was listening to this album in my room one day and all he heard from the other end of the house was "just like witches at black masses". He barreled into the room, grabed the vinyl off the turntable, yelled about demons and witches and Black Sabbath and smashed my new record on the table. I left home a week after and never went back. Closed minded so-called christians with narrow thought processes.Thomas - Somerville, Al
This song has been covered by many bands. One of my favorite covers is the bluegrass version by Hayseed Dixie.Kurt - Evansville, In
Yet another tremendous badass song from the ultimate badass band.
This one may well be my favorite from the boys, great lyrics, fantastic instrumentation, and - oh yeah - Ozzy sounds so freakin' scary that he would make the meanest pro wrestler run away, yipping like a scalded dog.
And, yes, it is clear from the lyrics that this is a non-evil song, that condemns needless killing and only mentions Satan as the ultimate destination for the guilty who start wars for their own selfish purposes.
Oldpink - New Castle, In
The beauty of art is that thte interpretation is in the mind of the individual. you can interoret it many different ways. i agree that system of a down bite and are wanna be sabbaths. the are totally unoriginal. this som=ng can't be more relevant to iraq because it wasn't written about iraq. the war in iraq wasn't even a thought yet. black sabbath has roots in christian religions, not in satanism. ozzy is a sick twisted mother and that's why everyone gives the band a band a bad rap. either way, this song and the band rock.Robert - Los Angeles, Ca
Lance their are stupid people everywhere.Austin - Smallsville,new England, --
This is by far my favourite Black Sabbath song. And - sorry to say this - Harry doesn't know what he's talking about.Michael - Oxford, -
Whoever wrote the 1st fact knows nothing of the song. "This is about man's desire to kill and destroy." Know, its not. At least not the version they have listen here.Angela - Wilson, Nc
Has nothing to do with witchcraft, satanism or any of that other crap! It is about the horrors of war. There is a video on Youtube that plays this song over footage of the very illegal war in Iraq. BTW it is pronounced ear-rock not friggin' "Eye-Rack". And it's "Ear-Ron" not
"I-ran". If we are going to invade places then learn how to friggin' pronounce them. No wonder everybody else thinks Americans are dumb. Sorry for the rant, I just get worked up sometimes.
Lance - Malibu, Ca
Good song, the lyrics are definatley about how polititions sit on their ass and cause trouble and then send their people out to fight in wars... and that when they die and get judged, no matter how much they beg, they will be sent to hell for the trouble they caused....

whoever said SOAD was like sabbath, theyre totally different, and both good bands, except one sings about political stuff and the other sings about his cock :)
Benoz - Uranus, Australia
"War Pigs"is about the people (Politicians and so on) who send the other people (the soldiers) to war while they themself are hiding away in there office and homes,and don't really care about he man and woman who are getting killed during the war(s)
Untill the time the GOD is is calling Judgment Day,and they are begging to for HIM to have mercy on the them
But because of all the deaths they are responible for its satan who has the laugh on them.

That is what the song is about.
Ramon - Den Bosch, Netherlands
When I was a kid this song gave me nightmares. But then a few years ago, right after the US invaded Iraq, I started hearing it on the radio occasionally, and it really rocked.Matt - New Castle, Nh
I love this song!Black Sabbath rocks!!Randell - Sydney, Australia
this song is great and system of the down is but a hair on the ballsak of sabath

amen to that but sabbath as to bs
Zac - Sydney, Australia
this song is great and system of the down is but a hair on the ballsak of sabathJqy - Houston, Ut
yeah this song talks about the evils of war and how we go to war and die to make the rich richer and the Politicians how started the war are truly evil and greedy and they get judgement in the end for thier evil deeds. totaly originally about the Vietnam War

"Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees the war pig's crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
All right now!"
Carol - Chesterton, In
i saw black sabbath back in '05 at ozzfest, they were amazing ! Ozzy was so sick with bronchitis, but he came out and did one hell of a show !!! It-to this day amazes me how the entire crowd of like 30,000 or bigger just was mesmerized by ozzy and a trance fell over everyone ! i will never forget how the crowd chanted along to "war pigs" SIMPLY AMAZING... I WILL NEVER FORGET IT !!Nora - N/a, Fl
i think war pigs only works for one band and that is sabbath no one else cake may have tried to re do it but it will never be as good and it doesnt really apply to iraq because bush is doing things to at least try to help them out over there in vietnam the president wasnt trying to do things to help americaDj - Assland, Oh
We are learning about the Viteman war and i immeditly thought of this song. Cake has done a remake that people either love or hate, either way I fell that War Pigs also applies to our war in Iraq.
-Amanda Wabash,IN
Amanda - Wabash, In
This has always been my favorite Black Sabbath song. Even without paying any attention to the lyrics, the music is just wonderful. But I've also noticed how eerily relevant the lyrics (originally about the Vietnam War) are today. It is a mystery to me why Michael Moore didn't play this song in "Fahrenheit 9/11," since the line about political leaders leaving the fighting to the poor fits perfectly with the movie's theme. Perhaps he couldn't get permission.N.i. - Baltimore, Md
If one reads in the Bible in Revelations they,ll see where Ozzies getting at. Perhaps hes actually talking about war against the wicked. Yes, maybe its hard to believe but read the book of Revelation in the Bible and it talks exactly about what Ozzy says. And the part about Satan is positively true. Lou in ky.Lou - Some Where In Ky., Ky
Great, great song. It's so unique and awesome drumming. There's no doubt this song is an anti-war song, specifically an anti-Vietnam War song. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably has less brain cells left in their head than Ozzy.David - Youngstown, Oh
One of the best sabbath songs. can't get tired of it. the four members can reunite again when they are 80, play this song, and still rock!!Joaquin - Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
This song is even more relevant today w/ the war in Iraq than it was about 'Nam!!!! GREAT F___IN' TUNE!!!!!!!!!!Wil - Milwaukee, Wi
Simply put - CLASSICSteve - Markham
NEVER,NEVER,NEVER compare System of a Down to Black Sabbath, AND never say there the new Sabbath there is one Sabbath and no one can EVER mimic there dark, evil-like songs...EVERJoe - Perkasie, Pa
I think this basically says that the government are a bunch of ignorant idiots that have no right to make war, and karma's gonna come back and bite 'em in the a**. And they deserve to get back all that they've inflicted upon Earth and its residents. Everyone go thank the war pigs when we're all nuked.Ashley - Moncton, Canada
System of a Down are wannabe sabbaths...they wish they were as good as black sabbath was, they try to copy their songs because they are posers, and they can't make any songs themselves, also, even though sabbath was heavy metal, its not as heavy as system of a down, its just dark and evil, and about sticking it to the man, drugs, and about being antisatanist, but people always thought they were satanists.Thomas - Latham, Ny
It starts out explaining about the masses of corrupted generals and military and government officials gathering and plotting plans against the people, and the "war machine starts turning", as they begin to carry out their devious plots. They send others out to fight while keeping themselves safe, and the song continues to build on the corruption and coldness of politicians today. At the end of the second versish thing, it foreshadows their fate "time till tell on their power minds" and "wait till their judgement day comes". At the end it shows their day of dying, the judgement day, and god descends to judge them. They plead and act like they have meant well, and beg for mercy, but their is none to be given on them, and, basically, they go to hell. "Satan laughing spreads his wings"Robert - Powder Springs, Ga
has any one ever heard the other lyrics on the comith of ozzJames - Hazlet , Nm
this song kicks soo much a$$ bill ward is an amazing drummer especially in the song rat salad.
the Walpurgis version is just a little bet better though for sum reason but other then that its a good tune.
Marc - Niagara Falls, Canada
Ozzy Trivia: Ozzy's parents took him to cemetaries for picnics. They ate spam sandwiches.
Ozzy's grandfather had one tattoo. A snake that the head began on his head and went down the length of his body, along a leg to his foot.
Michael - Springfield , Mo
Anyone ever notice the striking similarities between War Pigs and System of a Down's BYOB? I think it is really fantastic. System is sort of a new Black Sabbath with less drugs in my opinion.Jacob - Cbd, Pa
This song is about how everybody is fighting each other..it is not evil like some people seem to thinkJason - Salem, Mo
The was the best "Anti-Vietnam" song ever written and can be applied to all wars. Anti-Vietnam because you have to remember the song was written in 1970, during the height of that very unpopular war.Dude - Tampa, Fl
this song=pure pwnage=DPhil - Niagara Falls, Canada
simple: about politicians who send innocent victims into war.Ravyn - Hell, Ny
There's more evidence of the 'evolution' of the lyrics during the Paris '70 show... available as boot or as a European import.Mike - Carmel, Me
I saw Black Sabbath do this live yesterday at Ozzfest '05 it was ****ing amazing.Ben - Purdys, Ny
this is about war, if you think its about something else, either you have no interpretation of songs or you try to overanalize things. I love Black Sabbath, i know more about them than anyone should (just a wee bit obsessed), but to be honest they are stoner music. No deep root meaning to find in Black Sabbath.Robert - Chicago, Il
It's all about PEACE man.Deadzeppelin - San Francisco, Ca
I actually saw a band preform this song live. It was only Vocals, Drums, and Piano which made for a very interesting preformance. The drummer did an amazing job on it too. The Dredsen DollsIan - New York, Ny
This is one song that really shows how awesome Bill Ward was. These drums are crazy... and quite hard to imitate.J-raff - Boston, Ma
It's a common fact that Sabbath kicks ass... this song cements it.Tim - Calgary, Canada
Once you hear the power chords and sirens you have to listen to this. This was the first Black Sabbath song I ever heard. My Grandpa bought me a Paranoid Tape when I was five. So I've been hooked on Sabbath for ten years. One of my favorites. Same with Walpurgis.Michael Picard - Lapwai, Id
The best in the song is the Guitar ending.I dont know i i can call it the solo in the song.John - Oslo, Norway
The song "War Pigs" is about war and destruction caused by man. "Walpurgis" was originally intended as a joke by Butler, but Ozzy was the only one who took it seriously, and even after the "Paranoid" album was recorded, Ozzy sang the "Walpurgis" version in concerts, which pissed off the other three. Apparently Ozzy liked the lyrics a lot. And the only place to get the song is in the 2002 "Ozzman Cometh" greatest hits compilation, which still lists it as "War Pigs." But other than that, the song is only 15 seconds longer than the 1971 song "War Pigs."Jim - Oxnard, Ca
This song will never be played on any Christain radio station. This was one of my favorite songs and the guitars are excellent.Jade - Chippewa Falls, Wi
He meant he was about to say something about Zakk Wilde - not that the song was about him.James - Bransgore, England
andrew...let me ask you a question...how could this song be about zakk wylde when this was recorded by black sabbath years before ozzy would meet zakk? to those of you who refer to this as walpurgis...good job, you know you're stuff, to those who think it is about war or other random crap...educate yourselves...Dan - T.c, Mi
Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle do a great cover of this on the album "Nightlight". They give it a bluegrass feel, which is really cool.Charles - New York, Ny
This song isn not about Zakk Wylde, nor is it about Satan, it's about how, in war, generals will always stick in their homes or garrisons and use their soldiers to fight - much like pawns in chess (as in the line "treating people just liike pawns in chess...).Luke - Manchester, England
Here are the correct words to WALPURGIS the original version of WAR PIGS:

Witches gather at black masses
Bodies burning in red ashes
On the hill the church in ruin
Is the scene of evil doings
It?s a place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats? innards
I guess it?s the same, wherever you may go
Oh lord yeah

Carry banners which denounce the lord
See me rocking in my grave
See them anoint my head with dead rat?s blood
See them stick a stake through me

Don?t hold me back cause I just gotta go
They?ve got a hold of my soul now
Lords got my brain instinct with blood obscene
Look in my eyes I?m there enough

On the scene a priest appears
Sinners falling at his knees
Satan sends out funeral pyre
Casts the priest into the fire
It?s a place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats? innards
I guess it?s the same, wherever you may go
Oh lord yeah
Carlos - W.warwick, Ri
yes your right here are the lyrics to walpurgis

Witches gather at black masses
Bodies burning in red ashes
On the hill the church in ruin
Is the scene of evil doings
It's a place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats' innards
I guess it's the same whereever you may go
Oh Lord yeah

Carry banners which denounce the lord
See me rocking in my grave
See them anoint my head with dead rat's blood
See them stick the stake through me

Don't hold me back cause I've just gotta go
They've got a hold of my soul now
Lords got my brain instinct with blood obscene (not sure about this line)
Look in my eyes I'm there enough

On the scene a priest appears
Sinners falling at his knees
Satan sends out funeral pyre
Casts the priest into the fire
It's the place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats' innards
I guess it's the same whereever you may go
Oh lord yeah

and aslo the album was to be called war pigs also but was changed to paranoid due to hostillaties they would have recieved due to the vietnam war
Matt - Savannah, Mo
Best song ever made. The guitars are great.Don - Philadelphia, Pa
About Ozzy's former Guitarist, Zakk only left for not even a year. He is right now with Ozzy. Just thought you might like to knowAndrew - Sacramento, Ca
The last verse is amazing. BTW, songs like this and "After Forever" say a lot about the band's practically Christian religious beliefs and opinions of God. BTW, "Luke's Wall" is amazing [and my current MSN name :)]. "Satan, laughing, spreads his wings..."Brett - Edmonton, Canada
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