The significance of Black Sabbath's formidable hit - what War Pigs is really singing about

The lyrical content of "War Pigs" is truly frightening: there are many references to Satan and sorcerers, but all this serves only as an eerily beautiful disguise for the true meaning of the lines, which express protest and equate war with the most hellish evil....

War Pigs by Black Sabbath: song history, meaning and facts

One of the loudest and most menacing tracks from Black Sabbath's second album, "War Pigs." was recorded as an anti-war song. No wonder it is so menacing and gloomy - the lyrical filling paints a vivid picture of carnage, with the musicians criticising politicians and military officials for fomenting conflicts in their own interests.

The lyrical stuffing of "War Pigs" is truly frightening: there's a lot here references to Satan and sorcerers, but all this serves only as an eerily beautiful disguise for the true meaning of the lines, which protest and equate war with the most infernal evil....

Inspiration and background

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

"War Pigs." - that's the audacious title of the opening of the second studio album Black Sabbath track. And this composition fully justifies its title and message: rumbling guitar, a flurry of drum beats, a stream of air-raid sirens... All this sounds more than ominous, but at the same time intriguing.

The author of the composition, which became a worthy gem of the album "Paranoid."came forward Geezer Butler. And yes, this creation originally had a completely different name, namely. "Walpurgis.". Butler found inspiration in the tales of Walpurgis Night, on which a huge number of witches gather... The theme of wickedness inspired Butler so much that he wrote a charmingly creepy lyric for what would later become famous as the most iconic and unorthodox anti-war anthem ever! In an interview, the bassist recalled:

"Walpurgis Night is a celebration of uncleanness. So our management insisted that we rename the song as it seemed 'too satanic'. So we said, 'No problem', and renamed it 'War Pigs'!"

Lyrical meaning

Geezer Butler as a young man
Geezer Butler as a young man

The message of the song is easy to explain: at the time, it was raging Vietnam War. In his interview, Butler recounted:

"For me, war is the personification of Satan! It's the biggest evil in the world, that's why in the lyrics of the song I drew parallels between politicians and evil..."

Indeed: the lyrics are full of vivid imagery and interesting references veiled in eerie motifs... Butler compares warlords and their troops with necromancerswho have gathered in droves to destroy the world. His analogies are beautiful and very accurate, though at times frightening in their harshness.....

"The generals got together,
Like witches at a black mass,
Evil minds are planning destruction,
The sorcerer of building death..."

The next verse reads:

"Politicians are hiding,
They just started the war,
Why they need to go to battle,
They leave it to the poor..."

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

The song continues, noting their time when they fought just for fun and treated people like pawns in chess, soon to expire. "Wait until their day of judgement comes." - says in the third verse. The composition ends with the "War Pigs" losing their strength:

"The pigs of war have no more power,
God's hand has appointed the hour,
God is calling the day of judgement,
The pigs of war crawl on their knees,
Begging forgiveness for your sins,
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings..."

Interesting facts

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

Despite its gloomy message, the composition achieved excellent results upon release. However, as the years passed, its popularity has only increased: today "War Pigs" is an immortal classic for all time and one of Black Sabbath's biggest and most recognisable hits! Here are some interesting facts about this powerful track....

  • According to a number of top music publications, "War Pigs." is one of the top 100 greatest metal songs ever written, as well as songs with the most gorgeous solo. In the opinion of many, this composition opened the gates for heavy metal and brought its emergence at least 5 years closer!
  • What's most interesting is that during the terrible events in the U.S. 11 September 2001. this song was included in the so-called blacklist on the radio as "inappropriate." What's even more interesting is that they also put in the blacklist "Imagine" by John Lennon. Now, that's really weird, don't you think?

  • There was a lot of work done on the War Pigs coversbut perhaps the most unusual belongs to an American rapper. T-Pain! Speaking about this interpretation of his, the musician emphasised:

"It's one of those songs that had a big impact on me at a certain time in my life..."


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