Here are 10 songs about death that help the healing process, chosen by Spirit Adrift vocalist/guitarist Nate Garrett.
The concept of this list ties directly into the band's latest album, Ghost at the Gallows, Spirit Adrift's fifth full length that continues a hot streak that began with the 2016 debut, Chained to Oblivion.
Ghost at the Gallows follows the stylistic shape that began on 2020's Enlightened Eternity as Spirit Adrift distance themselves from the overarching doom that marked their earlier sound and travel further down the path of classic heavy metal. Twin guitars, big hooks, flashy solos and powerful lyrics are in abundance on the eight-song album, which drops Aug. 18 on Century Media.
While the lyrics still occupy dark corners, they're spliced with uplifting, empowering messages as Garrett looks for a glimmer of light.
READ MORE: Spirit Adrift's 10 Most Underrated Albums by Beloved Bands
“Subconsciously, each album I do tends to have a theme or make a point,” the frontman says. “I didn’t realize it when I was writing, but the new album seems to encapsulate the grieving process. I realized when I was done with it that lyrically all the stages of grief are present. It’s a way to mourn, it’s a way to grieve, to take painful things that happen in our lives and make something powerful and positive out of it. That’s been the goal with this band from day one.”
With that in mind, we asked Garrett to serve up his picks for the songs about death he finds to be a cathartic resource when processing the inevitability that awaits all living things.
So, check out Spirift Adrift's "Death Won't Stop" me directly below and while that's playing, check out Nate Garrett's selections of songs about death that help the healing process.
Get your copy of Spirit Adrift's 'Ghost at the Gallows' on CD or vinyl. Follow the band on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp and Spotify.
Spirit Adrift, "Death Won't Stop Me"
Black Sabbath, "Junior's Eyes"
This song is about Ozzy losing his father. There’s a version of the song out there with Dave Walker singing, when the band thought Ozzy wouldn’t be a part of Never Say Die!.
The Walker version illustrates Ozzy’s strongest talent: his knack for incredible vocal melodies. Ozzy has never considered himself a “musician” per se, but he’s as good at writing memorable, powerful melodies as anyone who’s ever done it. This is one of his finest moments and a rare display of deep, raw emotion.
Blue Oyster Cult, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
“Seasons don’t fear the reaper, nor do the wind or the sun or the rain” is one of my favorite lyrics. The “40,000 men and women every day” line can be either terrifying or comforting. I find it comforting in the sense that we’re not alone in dying. Everyone does it. A lot of wimps have done it, so I can probably do it, too.
High on Fire, "Brother in the Wind"
I’m not certain this song is about a friend dying, but it seems like that’s the case. Either way, I always associated it with friends who have passed onto the next plane of being.
Matt Pike doesn’t get enough credit for his vocal melodies. He’s got the “gargle broken glass” type of vocal, so I think people overlook just how emotive some of his vocal hooks are. There’s a ton of emotion here amongst the shredded throat vocal approach.
Judas Priest, "Beyond the Realms of Death"
It’s tempting to turn your back on the world and become a hermit inside your own mind. At least it is for me. But I’ve seen a lot of people die because of that type of cynicism and misanthropy. This song is about all that, and it’s really relatable.
These days, the most negative, divisive, hateful voices seem to be the loudest. We have to remind ourselves that those voices are actually outnumbered. We can’t let the bastards grind us down.
Megadeth, "In My Darkest Hour"
Mustaine puts his heart on display with this one. He wrote this song when he learned about the death of Cliff Burton. He felt like he was getting no emotional support during a really painful time, and I’ve been through that myself. But Dave is still here, and kicking as much ass as he ever has. The dude just earned a black belt in jiu jitsu. He’s a testament to never giving up, no matter how difficult things get. It’s inspiring.
Pallbearer, "Give to the Grave"
Knowing the specific personal circumstances that helped birth the first Pallbearer record make me appreciate it as much as any record I’ve ever heard. This is as real as it gets.
I could pick any song from this album for this list and “Given to the Grave” holds a special place in my heart. I know what these guys were going through when they wrote it and I’ve been through the exact same things. These dudes are my brothers, and this band and album will always be hugely significant in my life. I got to sing this one live with them once in Pittsburgh, and I’ll never forget it
Pantera, "Cemetery Gates"
I prefer “Hollow,” but that song ends in a state of limbo. “Cemetery Gates” is pretty clear about mourning the death of your loved one and moving the fuck on. Easier said than done sometimes, but it’s the only sane way to live.
Trouble, "Pray for the Dead"
This is one of my favorite songs ever written — musically perfect, lyrically beautiful. It’s such honest writing.
Eric Wagner acknowledges the anger that we feel toward someone leaving us in death. That’s a subject people tend to want to avoid, but it’s real. He walks us through the entire grieving process with a comforting, sympathetic hand on our shoulder. Then in true doom metal fashion, he reminds us that we’re next. Amazing stuff.
Tyler Childers, "Tattoos"
Tyler and I both have generational roots in Kentucky, and I connect with his music in a profound way.
This is one of those songs I relate to so much that it freaks me out. It’s like he wrote it about me.
Sometimes the best way to get through a loss is to allow yourself to feel the pain as intensely as possible. It’s cathartic. This song tears my heart out but I love it. I’m trying to go see this dude at Red Rocks in September. There’s not many bands or artists I would go to that much trouble for, but he’s at the top of the list.
Type O Negative, "Everything Dies"
Spirit Adrift covered this one. I could pick any song on World Coming Down for this list. That album helped me through the worst period in my life and quite possibly kept me from dying myself. The honesty here is staggering. I constantly strive for that level of honesty and vulnerability.