The God That Failed

Album: Metallica (1991)


  • This song is about how people seem to rely too much on religion to help with their problems. When James Hetfield's mother had cancer, she didn't take medication because she believed faith would heal her. Some time later, she died. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joseph - LA, CA
  • Producer Bob Rock told Music Radar: "The God That Failed is deep. It's not just a cheap shot at religion; it's him tackling the subject in a very complex manner. Emotionally, it's as real as 'Nothing Else Matters.'"
  • The Black Album was the first Metallica record produced by Rock, which meant he had to change some of the band's working practices, including that of guitarist Kirk Hammett on this song. He recalled to "Working with Kirk on this song was interesting – and this goes for the whole record, too: I was told that he'd come in the last few weeks of making a record to do his guitar solos. I told everybody right off, 'Well, that's not how we're going to do things. He's going to play live, like everybody else.'

    At first, Kirk was very uncomfortable with this approach, but he was game and played what he thought were guide solos. In many cases, including this one, his first ideas were the ones that we'd go back to and use when doing overdubs. He learned how to be spontaneous."

Comments: 48

  • Eric from Cow Town CaliforniwayHe is angry at god because 1, he doesnt believe in god in the religious sense that his mother so passionately did... hence the angry satirical mocking lyrics of said god littered throughout the song

    Its very clear to me the tragedy of religion is this...the promise of a beautiful afterlife of eternal bliss with the creator himself and all your loved ones too!! Is so appealing to the ultra gullible or just downright brainwashed(those people who's family determined their religious beliefs by raising them in a church regularly)...that those people will forgo their 1 life on this earth because....drumroll....they want to be with god

    Now....project a mother son relationship in pretend the son thought the mothers obsession with god was unhealthy and ridiculous, Voila! The god that failed
  • Mark from FloridaIt was performed on tour in 94 and 2019
  • Diabolus from Spain@Austin from Bristow VA: Yeah they've never played it live lol:
  • Diabolus from Spain@Zander from Los Angeles: Herm ya buddy a couple things:
    1) We don't have to "turn in up loud enough" we're not deaf.
    2) It's not a "rest" it's a pause in the song
    3) He doesn't yell "Hey!", he yells "play!", as in, the pause is over, start playing again. Maybe you need to turn it up some more there buddy.
  • Robin from AlaskaWhat if his mom had recovered and lived another 20 years before dying of cancer. Would this change the failure to a success?
  • Zander from Los AngelesAfter the chorus at 3:59, if you turn in up loud enough you can hear one of the band members yell "Hey!" during the rest.
  • Marc from Spring Valley, MnThis song is about how his reiligon failed him cause he was taught that god cures whatever ails u so he never went to the Doctor and when his mother died God didn't help him so to James god Failed him
  • Jake from Mckinney, TxI think that he was simply angry with God for taking his mother it is something that almost every Christian, no matter how devoted, feels especially when they lose a loved one and this was his way of venting his anger...kind of like Avenged Sevenfold with God Hates Us.
  • Cory from Akron, American Samoajames from colorado u got a point cus there is only one god and u know religon wouldve healed them but thts y god gave us doctors but like they say and its true the lord does work in mysterious ways
  • Chris from Surprise, Azlook this isnt a religoin bashing song man. its just one man releasing the hate filled emotions he has toward his mothers faith that ultimately led to her death. one man letting go of hate fear pain love and everything that goes with losing a loved one. he isnt bad mouthing religion entirely. hes angry at his mother for indirectly leaving him. he is angry for her faith being misguided in the sense that she shunned modern medicine for a metaphysical force she could not and cannot control. im not here to argue god vs science its just a song man and a damn good one
  • Mahmoud from Alexandria, EgyptChad from south africa , the dude says it all end of discussion.
  • Ismael from Ain Azel, AlgeriaIf he deserve the name of GOD ... sure he can't fail
  • Craig from Vancouver, BcJames, of Colorado, you couldn't be more wrong.
  • James from Colorado Springs, CoIs it possible that the "God that Failed" could be any other but the true God? People have prayed to many "gods" over the years that do absolutly nothing for them. God has given us all freedom. Freedom to choose. To choose what we want.
  • David from New York City, Paif you believe that god created everything then he created medicine. then if you use medicine your using something god created or allowed to be created for good.
  • Austin from Bristow, VaThis is easily my favorite (and sadly, the most underrated) single off The Black Album. It sucks that there is no music video for this song and that it has never been played live.
  • Eddie from Troy, MiBrad is totally right, i saw the interview with him talking about it xD
  • Jake from Morris, IlSounds to me like this song is about the god who failed. Failed to live up to any of the promises so many christians claim it makes and failed to help his mother when in need (she should have helped herself instead of relying on a god that isn't real).
  • Alex from Wayland, Mnyou are definitly right chad
  • Al from Philidelphia, Pareally the "christian scientist" are just like the mormons and jehovahs witnesses. their simply fake christain groups. never in the bible does it say that god will always heal you himself,thats why he made this stuff called MEDICATION. also im not a preacher or anything but refusing blood transfusions and the likes is never in the bible.
  • Steve from Alburqurque, NmTh song may be about praying to god to solve all youre problems, but never trying to meet him halfway. (by the way james has st. michle tatooed onto one f his arms, with the words "and lead us not into temptation"0
  • Bryce from San Diego, CaGod doesnt just fix you when your sick, he also gave us brains to help you when your sick, and if God fixed everyone who belived in Him everytime and gave them whatever they prayed for, wouldnt it make it too easy to believe?
  • Chad from Umshlatuzi, South AfricaLook, it's not that they really believe that God will heal you. It's just that they believe God knows what he's doing and they go with his will. That's it, no question about it.
  • Chad from Umshlatuzi, South AfricaNah, maybe this song is about James losing his mom. He thought God had failed him and his mother in her death. but people need to understand, thats Gods way of working, it happens. I'm not a preacher or whatever, but yeah, God has his ways, and I think James feels God failed him and his mother. But he never! God has a reason for everything he does. Respect!
  • Shelly from Place, WaAlthough I really like this song, the lyrics iritate me because it contradicts my faith. I've grown up (and am STILL growing up) within a Christian faith-oriented home.
    The meaning of the song is really sad, and you can feel the intensity of the feelings put into this song.
    I agree with Troy, the song is AWESOME with it starting with a bass line. (I also enjoy when songs start with drums! ROCK ON!)
  • Steven from Viking, Canadathe bass in the beginning ruled and the end is good and the rest of the song is great and i agree with the people who liked the beginning
  • Jake from San Fran, CaThis is one of my favorite Metilica songs. True Emotion permeates through every part of the song. As to the whole "Christain Scientist" thing (since everyone seems to be weighing in) would seem that if you get sick or break your arm, then yah, "God" (or what ever your mythical diety is) wants to happen. Chances are however, he also wants you to take medicine or get a cast. Its fine if you want to suffer and die in the name of some big invisible man in the sky, but once you have a kid you need to get over your Job Complex and get some health insurance.
  • Dillan from Toronto, CanadaAnd maybe he called it god that failed instead becasue his mom was more relying on god himlself but im not sure.
  • Dillan from Toronto, CanadaI guess so..but Gog that faild sounds cooler XD.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhWell said Neil. The title should have been the society that failed. Isn't Christian Scientist an oxymoron?
  • Garrett from San Anotnio, TxI just heard James say this, in person, "This song is about something you believe in. Something you believe in to the very end. And in your own mind it doesn't work. But in the end it really does work. 'Cause you have to go through the rough stuff to get to the good stuff. Am I right? Follow the God that failed."
    I believe it is about how God works in his own time. You pray and you may not think he is listening and you lose faith, but then you see he was listening and waiting for the right time to answer your prayer. To us it might seem like God was being held back by something. "The deepened nail."
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandOnce again, a mass argument has been started by something you cannot say existed... Well done
  • Max from Toronto, CanadaI think people are kind of over-analyzing this song. Its quite simply an expression of a man's grief and his anger towards a god that, in his opinion, killed his mother. I don't know who amongst anyone in any religion could possibly not question their faith or the faith of others when their mother died (seemingly) because of her faith in a god. It would be quite unnatural to not be upset when your mother died, and he just needed someone to blame it on. Hold your words unless you know exactly what it feels like to be in his position.
  • Steve from Keene, Nhpeople are entitled to their beliefs, faith, religion whichever you chose to call yours. obviously if God cured everything from everyone, no one would ever get sick. i no it's hard to lose a loved one and it's easy to blame it on someone, but it really was no ones fault. refusing medicine does seem a bit far, but it's cancer, people die all over the world from sicknesses illnesses and diseases, it's part of life
  • Darryl from Gastonia, NcI think that in this song he is trying to disprove religion and faith because of the fact that it failed to work for his mother.
  • Logan from Morrinsville, New ZealandWhen hetfield was younger his parents decided that he would become a christian scientist, but as a christian scientist he could not do some things that the other kids could do (health classes) and the songs about that.. (lifted from the metallica DVD.
  • Paulo from India, United StatesI'm not sure Christian Scientists expect to be cured. Otherwise, I don't think that religion would've lasted very long. Instead, I think the view is if they're meant to be cured, they're cured; if not, then not; it's God's will either way. Not to take anything away from the song. It's, imo, one of the stronger tracks on the album; and (also, imo) CS is a foolish religion.
  • Tyler from Mildura, AustraliaRight on Troy. I think it'd be great to see more metallica songs open with bass. Then again im a bassist so im probably a bit influenced in saying that.
  • Tim from Leuven, Belgiumindeed it's about james' disappointment in life and religion , coz god couldn't help his mom
  • Troy from Charlotte, NcWell, if I may set aside the meaning of the song for a second, I'd like to see more songs start out with bass. It's just the perfect way to begin a song in my (perhaps biased) opinion. The song also has a terrific solo my friends just love.
  • Hetfield from Manchester, EnglandThis was written about his mothers death and NOT his fathers death, as his father was still alive and kicking when it was written and recorded. it is about the christian science religeon and how god failed to cure his mothers cancer, afte she had false hope of this, thusly abstaining from medical treatment
  • Josh from El Paso, TxJames penned this song to help him deal with his anger towards his parent's religion. I have to admit that the Christian Science religion is sick. It's almost the same B.S. as the Jehova Witness religion (they do not accept blood transfusions to save their own life!!). If God did not want to heal, then He would not made DOCTORS and MEDICINE!!!!
  • Just from Buford, Gait is a little overboard God doesnt do everything for us thats y we hav souls n minds... to overcome n adapt to problems in our lives am i wrong
  • Kyle from Burlington, CanadaBrad is right. if u watch the classic album dvd of the black album there are a bunch of interviews about different topics and one is james hetfield talking about the god that failed. he explains that growing up he was part of a religion where they didn't believe in doctors and let mind be over matter. so basically he sais the song is about being pushed under a certain religion at such a young age u don't know any what to believe.
  • Whoiam from That One Place, MtMama Said is about his mother. The God that Failed is not about his mother. It is about his father dying from cancer
  • Eddie from Lachine, Mi"The God that Failed" was also a book-length essay written by Richard Wright after leaving the Communist party. The lyrics make sense under that banner, too.
  • Nick from Paramus, NjJust to add on to that, it was his mother who was dying of cancer and she refused medical attention because she believed that God would heal her by himself, but it didn't happen and she died, hence "The God That Failed".
  • Brad from Los Angeles, CaMy understanding is that this song has to do with Hetfield's parent's religion. They're Christian Scientists who do not believe in doctors or hospitals, but instead that God will heal you.
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