Familiar to most, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth are referred to as “The Big 4” bands of Thrash Metal since the 80’s. However, most of us don’t know that these bands are also called “The Four Horsemen“. This title was first introduced to Metal with Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” song from their “Kill ‘Em All” album, whose story is summed up by the following lyrics:
Has taken it’s toll on you
The lines that crack your face
Your body it has torn through
Withered in every place
For what you have had to endure
And what you have put others through
Deliverance for you for sure
There is nothing you can do”
Given the fact that some music fans are oblivious to what their favorite lyrics refer to, I thought I’d simply shed some light on the topic. Further research on the topic will be up to you.
The Book of Revelation (from the New Testament) speaks of a book/scroll in God’s right hand which is sealed with seven seals.
The four section titles from the quoted lyrics above (Time, Famine, Pestilence and Death) refer to the names of “The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse” (except Time is originally called War – possibly for rhyming purposes), who are released upon Mankind when the first four seals of the scroll are open. These beings are considered to be the harbingers of the Last Judgement.
Here’s the relevant passage from the Book of Revelation:
“And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its rider had a balance in his hand; … When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given great power over a fourth of the earth; to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”
While Metallica isn’t a Christian Metal band by any means, they have always referenced religious topics that seemed to reflect their own beliefs. Their reference to “The Four Horsemen” came as a way to express their anger and frustration with humankind and their concept of justice and righteousness. Other references to this topic in popular culture are The Clash’s 1979 album “London Calling”, Judas Priest’s “Nostradamus”, DragonForce’s “Revelations” and Megadeth’s “Blessed Are The Dead” among others (more on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in popular culture).