Dissident Aggressor

Album: Sin After Sin (1977)

Songfacts®:

  • Written by guitarists Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing with a lyric by lead singer Rob Halford, this song takes place in Berlin, Germany.

    The word "dissident" doesn't appear in the lyric, but it means a dissenter, typically someone who opposes the political establishment. Considering the history of Germany in the 20th century, the song can have many different interpretations with historical significance. It's clear that the subject is dealing with violence and brainwashing with the lines: "My mind is subjected to all," "Exploding, reloading, this quest never ending, until I give out my last breath."

    Fortunately, Rob Halford explained the song's meaning and origin in our 2014 interview. "It's about the Berlin Wall in 1970 something or other," he said. "I couldn't sleep, so I went out for a walk. I went to the Berlin Wall and I walked up on top of a boxy-looking post thing. A watchtower thing. It was in November, it was freezing cold, and I was looking over from West Berlin, which is all brightly lit up - pubs were up and everything. And the East side was just dead. It was pitch black, no lights were on, and there were these Russian guys looking back at me in binoculars. That was the seed for what that song talks about, about 'I know what I am, I'm Berlin.'"

    The Berlin Wall separated the Communist East Berlin from West Berlin from 1961-1989, when it was torn down. In 1990, Germany was reunified.
  • This song was covered by Slayer on their 1988 album South of Heaven. Halestorm also included the song on their 2013 album ReAniMate 2.0: The CoVeRs eP.
  • A live version of this song on Judas Priest's A Touch of Evil album won the award for Best Metal Performance at the 2010 Grammys. It was the first time the band had won one of the coveted trophies.

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