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.

Donnerstag, 3. November 2011

Deathspell Omega - Kénôse

Deathspell Omega - Kénôse (2005)

This little EP contains three songs, called I, II and III. All of them contain some Latin fragments , which I want to explain right now. But first, some comments about the title. The ancient greek word kenosis means emptiness and in theological contexts it means the emptying of oneself to be able to accept the divine grace.

Kénôse I - III

si non credideritis, non intellegetis - If you haven't believed, you'll not understand (Isaiah 7.9)

immaculata - the immaculated (female)

res rapta - the/a stolen/ catched thing

res rapienda - a thing that has to be stolen/ catched

in visceribus - in the entrails

et vestitus erat veste aspersa sanguine - And he was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood (Rev. 19,13)

in abstracto - in abstract

ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit - see the wood of the cross in which the salvation of the world hung (which is a call to the worship of the cross on Good Friday)

thesaurus ecclesiae - the treasure of the church

sanctorum communionem - the community of the saints

Et proiectus est draco ille magnus serpens antiquus qui vocatur Diabolus et Satanas qui seducit universum orbem proiectus est in terram et angeli eius cum illo missi sunt
(Revelation 12,9) - And the great dragon was cast out that old serpent called the Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world he was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him

consummatum est - it is completed

There are some German words as well, maybe you are interested in their meaning as well:

Du wirfst mich in den Moderstaub des Todes - you throw me into the musty dust of death

Qual und Tod bringt dieser Sarg, der ihn bestürmt, sein Herz zerreißt, Sinne zerstört - agony and death brings this coffin which besieges him, tears his heart into pieces, destroys senses

The saying lamma sabacthani is the cry of Jesus and means why hast thou forsaken me?

Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini

Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini (2010)

Recently, I was asked to explain the meaning of this album title. With pleasure, I gonna fulfil this wish - easy work for me, because singer Grutle himself has already talked about the title in interviews. (I'm sure there are interviews about this topic out there in english as well, but here I post the link to the interview Grutle gave to the German metal online-mag metal.de).

He said that Ivar wanted to name the album "Axioma" (By the way, the correct plural form would be axiomata and not axiomae, as Grutle assumed in the interview). An axiom is - in logic, philosophy or sience - a proposition which is considered as to be self-evidentially true. So, there is no need for discussing or doubting this proposition.

Grutle instead wanted to name the album "Ethica Odini" - ethical (matters) of Odin. He says that the title is the Latin translation of the Book "Havamal", a collection of Odin's ethical sayings.

So, at the end they just combined the two proposals and created this album title which now means Odin's ethical self-evident proposition.

Montag, 31. Oktober 2011

Woods of Infinity - Excrucior

Woods of Infinity - Förintelse & Libido (2004)

First of all, this is gonna be my longest entry, so be warned. It’s full of cultural informations, harrr!

Months ago, I got an e-mail of someone asking about the lyrics from the Swedish black metal band Woods of Infinity, which I didn't know before. My first thought while taking a first glance was "Oh my god, how horrible is this?" Then, reading the whole Latin text, I thought: "Oh my god, it is horrible, but thrilling".

But first of all the latin lyrics:

In delirem vicae cedo
Ludos viri non assuevi.
Vide! Ades! Amabo te comprehendo, et tuo plura millia annorum purturio.
Ipsa tibi blandos fudent seunabula morbus.
Miser legatus desinas ineptire.
Odi et excrucior quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
Vivamus mea malus legatus.
Vale puella! Iam legatus obdurat. At tu capitis damnatus.
Meus nox est perpetua una dormienda.
Tu dolebis vita tibi molestum est.
Metus dolores, metus dolores!
Mori, infirmus, mulier.

First of all, I deleted all apostrophes and changed some letters to restore the original text, because the band used some ancient love poetry – much more informations later... (check the metal-archives page to see the „original“ writing).

What does the title mean?

The title Excrucior means I suffer. The core of the word is "crux - cross".

What is your opinion about the whole text?

In general, it is full of mistakes, but understandable. It’s about a man who is lovesick and who swings from depression to anger. The band used a lot of text fragments from the author Catullus, one of the most important poets in Latin literature.

What can you tell me about Catullus?

First of all, if you are not interested in this, jump to the next question. Of course you can check the wiki-article about him, but I gonna tell you more about the significance the poems (could have) had for ancient readers.

In Latin literature, he was one of the first poets writing in the 1. person singular about love themes. Then, he called the "I"-speaking voice in the poems "Catullus".

For that, philologists first thought that the person (or better "persona" - the ancient word for "mask, role") "Catullus" in the poems must be identical with the poet Catullus. So, every disappointment mentioned in the poem by the "persona Catullus" must have been based on biographical experiences made by the poet himself. The philologists started to reconstruct the life of the (unknown) poet by extracting all the facts out of the poems. Then, they used these facts to interpretate the poems... which is like a cat biting her own tail.

In the last 30 years, some philologists had another idea. The poet Catullus wrote a lot of his love poes about a girl he calls "Lesbia". There are some hints within the text, which real girl this Lesbia could have been, but I don't wanna follow these thoughts because of the problems mentioned above.

The thing is: By using the word "Lesbia", Catullus knew that his readers had some associations with this name. It refers to the Greek island "Lesbos" and it's most known inhabitant: Sappho. In the 6. century b.c., Sappho was on of the most famous (female!) poets and a teacher for young girls as well. Among men, it was normal for this period, that education implied sexual experiences. This was widely accepted and normal (because of reasons I don't want to discuss here), but homosexuality among women was absolutey out of bounds. So, thinking about Sappho, an ancient reader thought about a) a famous female poet, and b) a woman with a perverted sexual instinct.

These to aspects - according to the philologists - the "poet Catullus" used to create his "personae Catullus and Lesbia": Catullus is the one writing the poems (and showing some sexual misbehaviours), Lesbia on the other hand it the one not behaving like exspected - especially in Catullus' eyes, because he's looking for a relationship or marriage, and she's not.

At the end the reader gets a little book with 116 poems which threat about live, love, sexuality, marriage, friends, feasts, mythology, satire, gossip... Reading those mostly short poems it's like channel-hopping and watching a programm called "Roman daily life".

What do the single lines mean and which poems are quoted?

In delirem vicae cedo
Hardly understandable. Maybe: I cease in the mutual delirium.

Ludos viri non assuevi.
I’m not used to the games of the man.

Vide! Ades! Amabo te comprehendo, et tuo plura millia annorum purturio.
Look! Help! I’ll love you, I understand, and I’ll rot (this is what „purturio“ could mean, because this form doesn’t exist) for many thousand years.

Ipsa tibi blandos fudent seunabula morbus.
Again, hardly understandable. The words doesn’t fit to each other, they mean literally: She herself | for/to you | gentle (accusative - whom?) | they spread | ??? | illness (nominative - who?).

Miser legatus desinas ineptire.
Poor legate, Stop playing the fool. - Here, the band quotes Catullus c.8: In this poem, the I-speaking Catullus tries to ease his lovesickness by playing the role of an unemotional, strong man. He argues like this: „Goodbye girl, I don’t need you, you need me. You’ll see. No one will kiss and love you in the future, but don’t come back. I don’t want you any longer.“ The metre impedes the content, because Catull used a funny limping rythm, so by reading the lines, you know that he really suffers lovesickness and can hardly handle the situation.

Odi et excrucior quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
This is almost 50% of Catullus’ most famous poems, c.85: Odi et amo, quare id faciam, fortasse requiris | Nescio sed fieri sentio et excrucior. – I hate and I love. Why I’m doing this, you may ask. Dunno, but that it happens I feel and I’m tortured.

Vivamus mea malus legatus.
The first word is the beginning of c.5: Vivamus, mea Lesbia – Let us enjoy live, my Lesbia. There are several ways to interprete the text, but literally it’s about Catullus who wants to enjoy spending time with the girl without thinking about the morality of the elders. The rest means „poor legate“ again.

Vale puella! Iam legatus obdurat. At tu capitis damnatus.
Goodbye girl. The legate already stays strong (again an important word of c.8 – see above).
But you are sentenced to death (damnatus is a masculine ending, so it must refer to Catullus himself).

Meus nox est perpetua una dormienda.
Again an important quote from c.5 (see above): one perpetual night must be slept by me. Catullus argues that there is just one life and there is nothing after death. Therefore you must enjoy every moment (simple and not totally correct Epicurean philosophy).

Tu dolebis vita tibi molestum est.
You’ll suffer, your life will be uneasy.

Metus dolores, metus dolores!
Grammatically not correct: Fear of the pain.

Mori, infirmus, mulier.
to die | weak (masculine ending) | woman

The rest of the lyrics is written in swedish and talks about torturing and murdering a girl in the forest. Luckily, „my job“ is just comment the meaning of the Latin words and not the „sophisticated“ content of the text as a whole.

Donnerstag, 7. Juli 2011

Inpestae - Cold and Dead

Inpestae - Cold and Dead (Psykothic Violence) (2008)

Just a short comment: A guy sent me the link to this EP of the French raw black metal band Inpestae. The name sounds latin and eventually refers to the noun "pestis - pestilence".
But "pestae" isn't a correct form of this word. The prefix "in-" is normally used for negations.

There is the adjective "infestus" which means dangerous, ready to attack, but I don't think that the band meant this word, especially because the ending "-ae" indicates feminine plural.

On the quoted EP there is one track which has the latin title usque ad sanguinem incitati. I don't know if the lyrics are in latin, too - I couldn't understand what he's singing.
The plural form incitati means provoked. In latin, you normally used this word with a direct object: to provoke somebody/ something. The term usque ad sanguinem - up to the blood doesn't make sense at all. If you translate this phrase literally into German, you get the correct phrase gereizt bis aufs Blut, which means extremely provoked. Maybe, this phrase exists in French as well, I don't know. So, let me know!

Dissection - Reinkaos

Dissection - Reinkaos (2006)

I was asked to check the lyrics of the latest Dissection record. I found
a lot of strange words which are definitely not latin but another
language I don't want to go into that right now, simply because I've
no clue about it. Some words look a little bit like latin but they aren't
and a few ... yes, you guess right... so:

* Starless Aeon *

Dies Irae Dies Illa Solvet Cosmos In Favilla
Vocamus Te Aeshma-Diva

Here, Dissection used the famous Dies Irae-theme but exchanged the
latin word "saeculum - century" for the greek one "cosmos/kosmos -
cosmos, order". So, "kosmos" is the opposite of "chaos", another
word of great importance to this record:
Days of wrath, that day will dissolve the order in ashes.
(By the way, you need the accusative: whom does that day dissolve?,
so the correct greek form would be "kosmon")
We call you, Aeshma-Diva (a deamon of Wrath)

* Chaosophia *

Lucifer Illuminatio Mea!
The song title means The love for Chaos. The rest is quite simple, even
to those who don't understand latin: Lucifer, my illumination!

Sonntag, 15. Mai 2011

Atrocity - Leichenfeier

Atrocity - Blut (1994)

Southern Germany's Atrocity is a band which demands a lot of pacience and tolerance from the listener.
In the early 1990's, they started as a death metal band ("Hallucinations" (1990) and "Todessehnsucht" (death wish, 1992). Two years later, in 1994, they published "Blut" (blood), heavily influenced by Bram Stoker's Dracula, as you can see by the CD's design. If you check the reviews on Metal Archive, you recognize that this CD polarizes. Some love the mixture of death metal with experimential influences, others hate the "hardcore-like" attempts. I bought the CD more than 15 years ago and listened to it very often in the beginning, but just 3-4 times within the last ten years. But still I like it - as I recognize right now while I'm listening to it again - because of the mood and the disharmonic and somewhat spooky atmosphere. On this record, they also experimented with ethno music - something they've done later on again.
I didn't buy their following records - as I mentioned above, I couldn't follow their mixture of mediocre death metal, 80's cover versions, ethno rock and industrial. But still I think Blut is on of their most fascinating records.

There is a song called "Leichenfeier", sung in German. At the end, they sing the latin phrase Deus diabolicus - In immortalitate - Parentalia, which means: diabolical God - in immortality - Parentalia.

Parentalia was an ancient Roman feast, celebrated on February the 13th. The name derives from parentes, which mean, as you can guess: parents. The Romans believed that ghost of the ancestors were wandering among the living during these days, to take revenge for injustice they had suffered in life. So they assembled bread, salt and wine to appease the ghosts.

Maybe you are interested in the meaning of the German lyrics of "Leichenfeier":

feast for the dead

Cursed shall be the day I was born
Cursed shall be the night in which I saw
how appearance and reality become mine.
Where I wander all is gone
what has been once before,
just dark souls and
devil's horde.
Not praying, but without words
I kill the god inside you.
Flesh and sin, blood and
love: thoughts in black.
your wifes are crying, your
sons are hunting you, they've become
my servants.
I enjoy your agony,
I sip your blood
and devour your heart.
I follow damnation's call,
the light in the dark, cold
in the neck, and the immortal bones.
I follow the damnation,
the passion
in red, wicked, depraved
and unbelieveable beautiful.
Crosses are sinking down, bells fading away
in the passionate evening red
of a slaugther feast.

Diabolical Devil
in immortality

Mittwoch, 27. April 2011

Anaal Nathrakh - Volenti non fit iniuria

Anaal Nathrakh - Passion (2011)

The opening track of A.N. record to come has the title Volenti non fit iniuria. This is a common law doctine which means: To a willing person, no injury is done. First, I read Violenti... which would have been: To a violent person... and I thought, great latin title, typically Anaal Nathrakh, but here the wish was father of the thought.

Sonntag, 24. April 2011

Arkan - Deus Vult

Arkan - Salam (2011)

"Salam" is Arkan's second record; based in Paris, they play melodic death metal mixed with oriental influences, a bit like Orphaned Land (by the way: OL singer Kobi Farhi does the guest vocals on the track "Deus Vult".) If you are open minded, check the song! Great stuff, I think.

Deus vult means God wants it. So it's the latin translation of the arabic insha'allah. This word again turned into the spanish/ portuguese word ojalá/oxalá - "hopefully".

Freitag, 22. April 2011

Portrait - Crimen Laesae Maiestatis Divinae

Portrait - Crimen Laesae Maiestatis Divinae

In May 2011, the Swedish Heavy Metal band Portrait gonna release their second album which has a latin album title, as you've already read above. They bring us fine old-school heavy metal in the tradition of Mercyful Fate and others...

I'm also proud that I can add not just another black metal band - which isn't a critique. But it's nice to see that there aren't just evil black and white guys running through foggy forests out there which use latin chants for singing about Satan and darkness... well, ehm, Portrait sings about Occultism as well. Maybe they are a black metal band, but they don't know it yet. We'll see.

By the way, the album's title means The crime of having offended/ injured the divine majesty or, in other words: blasphemy.
"Crimen Laesae Maiestatis" is the medieval term for having committed a crime by acting against the majesty or insulting him by words.

Donnerstag, 21. April 2011

Baptism - Et vidimus gloriam eius

Baptism - Morbid Wings of Sathanas (2005)

In 2005, the finnish black metal Band Baptism released their second full lenght record called "Morbid Wings of Sathanas". The first song on this record contains the following latin lines:

Song title: Et Vidimus Gloriam Eius - And we have seen his glory

Peccare et mentiri contra dominum et aversi sumus
To sin and to lie against the lord and we are against (it/him)

Spoliavit me gloria mea et abstulit coronam de capite meo
My glory spoiled me and took the crown from my head

Hosanna in profundis
Hosanna in the depths

Erat lux vera
It was the true light

Sonntag, 13. März 2011

Morbid Angel, quo vadis?

Soon, Morbid Angel gonna release their eighth album which has the latin title Illud divinum insanus. This could mean this divine insanity but the endings of the forms aren't correct. It would be better to say illa divina insana or illa insania divina.
I wrote to the management pointing this out. Maybe my sinistre power is already strong enough to help the legend Morbid Angel going back to their dark path...
if so, bow your head and obey!

Sonntag, 9. Januar 2011

Belphegor - Goatreich - Fleshcult

Belphegor - Goatreich-Fleshcult (2005)

I've already written about the phrase "festum asinorum", but I've forgotten some more words.

~ The Cruzifixus - Anus Dei ~
Cruzifixus means The cruzified, Anus dei is God's anus/asshole.

~ Fornicationium et immundus diabolus ~
The noun fornicatio means arch or whorehouse or harlotry/prostitution. The ending -ium is incorrect, the form "fornicationum" would be genitive plural: of the arches/ whorehouses/ harlotry. Maybe Belphegor thought that "fornicationium" is a correct noun, so two translations are possible: a) the harlotry and the impure devil, or b) even the impure devil of the harlotry.

I think, the double meaning of this word goes back to ancient Roman times: it's certain that the arches of the Circus Maximus were used as little brothels, cheap and dirty ones.


Belphegor - Angeli Mortis De Profundis

Belphegor - Blood Magick Necromance (2011)

Soon, Belphegor gonna release their next bloody opus. Track nr. 5 has a latin title, which means Angels of death out of the depths. If there will be any latin phrases in the lyrics, I gonna explain them later...

... back again: Now I hold the new CD in my hands and reading the lyrics, I found two latin phrases:

The phrase natus in morte (in: Blood Magick Necromance) means born in death, the phrase ignis extotum corpas (in: Possessed Burning Eyes) means... actually nothing. "ignis" is "fire" and the two other words don't exist. Maybe Belphegor wanted to say Fire out of the whole body, which would be ignis ex toto corpore in latin.


Mittwoch, 5. Januar 2011

Enthroned - Pentagrammation

Enthroned - Pentagrammaton (2010)

A few weeks ago I saw Enthroned live and was quite impressed. I didn't expect that much and got a nice black-metal-concert full of power and energy. But, I have to confess, that Enthroned don't impress me with their latin skills. Here we go:

~ in missi solemnibus ~
In solemnibus means During the feast or In the solemn ones, missi is a participle and means They who have been sent or Of the one, who has been sent. Maybe the band wanted to say In the solemn moments of the mass. The correct latin form would have been missae.

~ Rion Riorrim ~
Bestia Centavri Imperivm
Maxime hvc homines
Bves praeses Magnvs
Ocvla habens Serptentinam

This is a collection of nice latin words without any grammatical coherence. As in Roman inscriptions, they often used the "v" instead of "u".

Beast of the Centaur Empire
Biggest hither people
Oxen (? - correct form would be boves) big master
who has serpentine eyes.

~ Pentagrammaton ~
Vestri sperma nomen
Diapente vox astrvm
Cvrator ab Senivm

The same problem: some nice words, no coherence, wrong forms.

Your sperm name
Diapente (= perfect fifth in classical music) voice star/constellation
curator/ caretaker of the old men (correct: curator senum)

~ magnus princeps Leopardi~
The song's title means great prince of the leopard. The next lines are almost a text, not only word fragments: huic sexagin(t)a Legiones Obsequntuur, incendit virum mulieris amore, mulierem vicissim aeterius, desiderio incitat.

Sixhundred legions obey him, he incites a man with the love of a woman/ to a woman (again the ambiguous genitive, as I explained at the end of the Deathspell Omega-article.), the woman again etherious (correct: mulierem aetheriam) he incites with desire.

~ ad te clamamus exsules mortua liberi ~
The beginning reminds me to Psalm 130: De profundis clamavi ad te, domine. The title here means We, the exiled, cry to you. The last to words mortua liberi mean dead and children. Maybe the line should mean: We, the exiled dead children, cry to you, but the grammar isn't correct.