What's all this fuss about?

Latin lyrics in Heavy Metal music are a common phenomenon. The darker the music, the more evil the band wanna be. What's better than using an old, mysterious, hardly understandable, cryptic, medieval and therefore almost satanic language? Unfortunately bands seldom know how to use this language properly. So, instead of evoking the demons of the realm of evil, they just evoke a hop-frog. Clatu verata nicto! - The most of you know what happened after this wrongly spoken spell.

Normally, two questions are the result of the fact that you've just read a latin phrase:
- What does it mean? (almost everybody)
- Is it correct? (just a few latin aficionados)

This page doesn't want to make fun of mistakes in latin lyrics. I wanna answer the first question to everybody who is interested. The second question is just for myself or for the two or three weird guys out there or for bands which are thinking about using a latin phrase as well. You can contact me if you want.

Freitag, 25. April 2008

Marduk - Death march

Marduk - Death march - Plague Angel (2004)

The lyrics are just a few latin lines:

Quod fuimus, estis, quod sumus, eritis.
Quod fuimus, estis, quod sumus, eritis.
Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas.
Memento mori, memento mori.
Nemo ante morten beatus dici potest.
Memento mori, memento mori.

What we were, you are (now), what we are, you'll be.
What we were, you are (now), what we are, you'll be.
Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless!
Remember you must die, remember you must die.
Noboby can be called happy before his death
Remember you must die, remember you must die.

The line vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas is a quote from the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 1:2. Later, this quote as well as memento mori, was an important motto during the baroque era (about 1600-1700 a.d.). In view of the Thiry Years' War and plagues the people reminded themselfs that just a few things, like the faith and the soul, remain eternally. All the other "important" aspects like wealth, beauty or possessions have to decay sooner or later.

The line nemo ante mortem beatus dici potest is said to be the answer of the wise man Solon, who was asked by the Lydian king Croesus if he - because of his wealth - is the happiest man on earth...

Marduk - Imago mortis

Marduk - Imago Mortis - Rome 5:12 (2007)

The title of the song means "the picture of death". The song contains two lines in latin:

Lux rigor mortis - light, the rigidity of death
cinis ater et ossa - black ash and bones

Montag, 7. April 2008

Limbonic Art - Ad noctum

The CD "Ad noctum" contains some latin phrases. First of all: the title, which means "to the night".

On the back side of the inlay you can read "nemo me impure lassesit. Mors certa vita incerta." The second part of the phrase is easy, but the first part contains some problems: "impure" means "impurely, viciuosly". "lassesit" doesn't exist. My thought was to exchange "lassesit" for "lacessit", and "impure" for "impune". If this is right, the phrase would mean: "Nobody provokes me without punishment. Death is certain, life uncertain."

Some more latin phrases you can find in the lyrics of "Pits of the cold beyond" and "Dynasty of Death".

In the first one there is "timor et tremor venerunt super me et caligo cecidit super me." - "Fear and tremble came over me and darkness fell over me."

In the second one there are just a few words: "locus reconditus occulta tenebrarum" - "A hidden place, secrets of the darkness."

Drautran – Deiciamus in Nihilum

Drautran – Deiciamus in Nihilum – Unter dem Banner der Nordwinde (2000)

Is it possible…? Another weirdo…! I’m not the only one. To be serious: a guy asked me about the phrase „deiciamus in nihilum“, which was translated into „let us plunge into the nothing“ by the band itself. Now the guy was wondering if the latin phrase means that someone plunges something else or himself into nothing.

The phrase as it is written above means: to plunge something else. So the direct object is missing in the sentence above. To express that you gonna plunge yourself you have to write "nos deiciamus in nihilum" or "deiciamur in nihilum".

Now, let us plunge sophistry into the nothing!

Secrets of the Moon – Metamorphoses

Secrets of the Moon – Metamorphoses – Antithesis (2006)

Secrets of the Moon consulted a real genius for the lyrics of the song „Metamorphoses“: Ovid, one of the most important Roman poets. This guy wrote the well-known „Art of Loving“, for which he was send into exile. In the year 8, he also wrote the epic „Metamorphoses“, 15 books full of mythical stories of transformations. The following lines are from the first book and they tell about the beginning of the four ages of Man and the Giants. I’m going to post the German and English translation of these lines.

Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo
Sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.

Postquam Saturna tenebrosa in Tartara misso
Sub love mundus erat, sublit argentea proles,
Auro deterior, fulvo pretiosior aere.

Tertia past illam succesit aena proles,
Saevior ingenlis et ad horrida promptior arma,
Non scelerata tamen. De duro est ultima ferro.
Protinus inrupit venae peioris in aevum
Omne nefas: fugere pudor verumque fidesque;

Neve foret terries securior arduus aether,
Adfectasse renum caeleste gigantas
Altaque congestos struxisse ad sidera montes.
Tùm pater omnipotens misso perfregit Olympum
Fulmine et excussit subiectae Pelion Ossae;
Obruta mole sua cum corpora dira iacerent,
Inmaduisse ferunt calidumque animasse cruorem,
Et, ne nulla suae stirpis monimenta manerent,
In faciem vertisse hominum. Sed et illa propago
Contemptrix superum saevaeque avidissima caedis
Et violenta fuit: scires e sanguine natos.


Als erstes entstand das goldene Geschlecht, das keine Rächer kannte
und freiwillig, ohne Gesetz, Treue und Redlichkeit übte.

Als Saturn in den dunklen Tartarus verstoßen war
und die Welt Iuppiter unterstand, folgte das silberne Geschlecht,
geringer als Gold, wertvoller als das rötliche Erz.

Als drittes folgte das eherne Geschlecht; es war grausamer
von Natur und schneller bereit, zu den Waffen zu greifen,
doch nicht frevelhaft. Das letzte ist von hartem Eisen.
Alsbald brach in das Zeitalter des schlechteren Metalls
alle Sünde ein: es flohen Scham, Wahrheitsliebe und Treue;

Und damit der hohe Äther nicht sorgloser sei als die Erde,
sollten die Giganten, voll Gier nach der Herrschaft im Himmel,
Berge zusammentragen und bis an die Sterne empor getürmt haben.
Da zerschmetterte der allmächtige Vater mit einem Blitzstrahl
vom Olymp und schlug den Pelion von dem darunterliegenden Ossa;
Als die ungeschlachteten Leiber von ihrem eigenen Bauwerk
erdrückt dalagen, soll die Erde von dem reichlich strömenden Blut
ihrer Söhne feucht geworden sein und das warme Blut beseelt
und in Menschengestalt verwandelt haben,
damit an ihre Nachkommenschaft eine Erinnerung bleibe.
Aber auch diese Brut verachtete die Himmlischen, lechzte
nach grausamen Mord und war gewalttätig:
Sie war ja auch aus Blut geboren.

(Übersetzung: Michael von Albrecht)


First was the Golden Age. Then rectitude
spontaneous in the heart prevailed, and faith.

When Saturn had been banished into night
and all the world was ruled by Jove supreme,
the Silver Age, though not so good as gold
but still surpassing yellow brass, prevailed.

The third Age followed, called The Age of Bronze,
when cruel people were inclined to arms
but not to impious crimes. And last of all
the ruthless and hard Age of Iron prevailed,
from which malignant vein great evil sprung;
and modesty and faith and truth took flight,

And lest ethereal heights should long remain
less troubled than the earth, the throne of Heaven
was threatened by the Giants; and they piled
mountain on mountain to the lofty stars.
But Jove, omnipotent, shot thunderbolts
through Mount Olympus, and he overturned
from Ossa huge, enormous Pelion.
And while these dreadful bodies lay overwhelmed
in their tremendous bulk, (so fame reports)
the Earth was reeking with the copious blood
of her gigantic sons; and thus replete
with moisture she infused the steaming gore
with life renewed. So that a monument
of such ferocious stock should be retained,
she made that offspring in the shape of man;
but this new race alike despised the Gods,
and by the greed of savage slaughter proved
a sanguinary birth.

(translated by Brookes More)

Sonntag, 6. April 2008

Mayhem - Mediolanum capta est

This album title means "Milan is captured."

("Mediolanum" is the latin name of "Milan". The correct phrase is: Mediolanum captum est.)

Mayhem - Symbols of bloodswords

Mayhem - Symbols of bloodswords - Wolf's lair abyss (1997)

tanto magis infra se cecidit
quanto magis se contra gloriam
sui conditoris erexit

the more he fell down
the more he arose against the glory
of his originator

(The phrase is quite good, that's why I don't make any comments about the grammar. The logical order of this phrase is: the more he arose - the more he fell...)

Mayhem - De mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Mayhem - De mysteriis Dom Sathanas - De mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1993)

I bow my head in reverence to this ground-breaking band within the black metal scene. Musically, they are part of the Olymp. Lyrically, refering to their latin parts, they are... somewhere else.
On their legendary CD "De mysteriis Dom Sathanas" they use latin phrases in the last song, which has the same title the CD has. The song describes the situation of a black mass in which a priest evokes the prince of darkness.

De mysteriis Dom Sathanas - About the mystery of the Lord Satan
"Dom" is the abbrevation of "dominus - lord, master", here in the genitive form "domini - of the lord". "Sathanas" (correct: satanas) is the genitive form in ancient greek of the word "satan" (which actually is a hebrew word). I'm sure you know the translation of this word.

Now the latin lyrics:

heic noenum pax - here is no peace
("heic" is unknown to me, the correct form is "hic"; "noenum" is the archaic form of "non" which means "no")

de grandaevus antiquus malum tristis arcanus mysteria scriptum - about aged old the evil sad arcane mystery written
(my translation tries to imitate the grammatically wrong structure of the latin phrase, though it's quite complicate in english. In latin the endings of all the nouns, adjectives and participles are changing, depending in which case the word is used or to which other form the word refers. In the latin line there is no structure, the most words are in their "normal" form, as you find them in the dictionary.)

invoco cruentus domini de daemonium - covered with blood I invoke the lord of the demon
(the endings of "domini" and "daemonium" are wrong, as well as the use of the word "de - from".)

rex sacrificulus mortifer - king, victim priest, bringer of death

psychomant(i)um et precor exito annos major - oracle of the dead and I pray with the end the years bigger
(this phrase is totally wrong, none of these words is in the matching form.)

ferus netandus sacerdos magus - wild (animal), ???, priest, mage
("netandus" isn't an existing latin word. There is "nefarius - godless" which sounds similar to that.)

mortem animalium - the death of all animals/ creatures.

Helloween - Laudate dominum

Helloween - Laudate dominum - Better than raw (1997)

This song is totally written in latin. In their credits the band thanks Mr. Dörnte for helping them with the latin translation. By declaring his name, the band proved him as an expert. Rightly, because the lyrics are correct - with one exception (forget about that). In the inlay, the lyrics are totally written in capital letters, using a "V" instead of an "U" - as the Romans did on their ancient monuments.

Halleluja, homines - Halleluja, people
gaudete de domino - be happy about the Lord
qui donat vita omnes, quod amat nos - who donates us life, because he loves us

Halleluja, mi deus - Halleluja, my God,
tu vivis omnipotens - you live omnipotent
tu es semper benignus, tu amas nos - you are always benign, you love us

Pater noster in caelis - our father in heaven
totum orbem terrae regnat - he reigns the whole world
et vincit diabolum timoren - and he defeats the fear of the devil
et omnium hominum - and all humans (fear)

O laudate dominum - o, praise the Lord
praedicate deum - give notice of the God
amate creatorem - love the creator
qui creavit mundum - who created the world
o laudate dominum - o, praise the Lord

Ecce, et te vult Jesus liberare - Look, and Jesus wants to free you
ducere per vitam tuus amicus, gaude tu - your friend (wants to) guide you through life, be happy

Amici, dimitte - Friends, reject
mente malam pravamque - from your mind the bad and the twisted
anima accipite salvam fidem - accept in your soul the unspoiled confidence (or: belief)

Jesus Christus in cruce - Jesus Christ at the cross
de vita decessit dolens - painful he departed this life
sed de morte resurrexit lux mundi nova - but from the death a new light for the world arose

O laudate dominum - o, praise the Lord
filium Jesum Christum - and his son Jesus Christ
omnium redemptorem - the redeemer of everyone
et spiritum sanctum - and the holy spirit