Rock music has traditionally been considered mindless noise. It is often thought of as dirty – hedonistic, drug-plagued, and even as downright devil worship. At best, it is treated as a genre that is good for ‘letting loose’. This understanding of rock music is, however, not a rule that is set in stone.
LiveLifeKingSize presents you with a look at ‘spiritual rock’ – powerful music that can transform, inspire, and stir your soul. The bands we have chosen all happen to be bestsellers. The message is to delve into your soul, question your reality, and to open your mind.
So, without further ado, here are LiveLifeKingSize’s top 5 meditative rock bands – with some insight into what makes them so.
This Irish rock band, which was formed in 1976, is perhaps the most well-known on our list. They have countless hit songs that people have glued to their playlists such as ‘With or Without You’ and ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’. So, what makes this band spiritual?
U2 is an unofficial Christian Rock Band. They shy away from being billed as so – because they want their message of faith, hope, love, and peace to spread across humanity and not to be associated with any one religion. This bestselling band creates songs with lyrics, sounds and feelings that are extremely spiritual. There are no subliminal messages in their music. Most of what they offer is overtly and plainly spiritual. The titles of their songs are frequently religious, such as ‘Yahweh’, ‘Crumbs from Your Table’ and ‘In God’s Country’ (Yahweh is a Hebrew name for God.)
Here’s an example. In the song ‘Miracle Drug’, lead singer Paul David Hewson (stage name Bono), sings:
“God, I need your help tonight
Beneath the noise, below the din
I hear your voice, it’s whispering
In science and in medicine
“I was a stranger, you took me in”
The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile
I’ve had enough of romantic love
Yeah, I’d give it up, yeah, I’d give it up
For a miracle, miracle drug”
U2 is singing about those moments when one communes with the divine in such a gentle way, it is almost wisp-like. It is all in hidden silence, “Beneath the noise, below the din”, and there is an almost Sufi element in how they portray God’s communication – “I was a stranger, you took me in”. Truly, lyrics like these are what poets and lovers live for.
Another example is from their song ‘A Man and a Woman’. Bono sings:
“I could never take a chance
Of losing love to find romance
In the mysterious distance
Between a man and a woman
No, I could never take a chance
‘Cause I could never understand
The mysterious distance
Between a man and a woman”
In a world where romance and love are often considered synonymous, U2 offers a distinction. The message is that love and romance are not the same – that love is far deeper. While this song can be interpreted in the sense of human relationships, it has definite spiritual overtones – and it can even be interpreted in an entirely God-centric way.
If you are looking for a message of faith and hope, or just want to immerse yourself in positive vibes after a hard day of work or any difficult experience, it is always worth tuning into this band.
HIM – His Infernal Majesty
A lesser known band than U2, His Infernal Majesty is a Finnish rock band that was formed in 1991. They invented their own genre called ‘Love Metal’. This quote by the lead singer, Ville Vallo, gives a good idea of what their music is all about: “I didn’t know how to cope with the world. Then I found an instrument, and through that I realized, that I am able to cope with the world and its evils, a bit better, through writing songs.” While they are labelled as Gothic Rock, they assert that their style is more tender. What is unique about their music is the sensitivity that they fuse with heavy metal style and sound. Even though many of their songs are about romantic love, the music has definite spiritual overtones. It may not be as explicitly spiritual as U2, but one experiences a renewal of the soul when one listens.
For example, with lyrics such as:
“And I know my church is not of silver and gold
Its glory lies beyond judgment of souls”
(from one of their best songs, ‘The Sacrament’), the depth Ville Vallo has in his understanding of religion is shown. He knows well the deeper aspects of love and faith that defy the boundaries of religion.
Another example is from the song, ‘Sweet Pandemonium’. Vallo sings that:
“The truth that could set souls free
Is buried within sweet pandemonium
Concealed by disbelief
The riddle stays veiled in sweet pandemonium”
Here, HIM sings about the shackled soul in modern society – and how liberation is just ‘veiled’ by its chaos. They even see a kind of wicked beauty in the ‘sweet pandemonium’ of the current state of human affairs.
Listening to this band inspires a sense of awe – not just due to the feelings that their music evokes, but due to the creativity and newness of soulfully infused, ‘tender’ metal.
Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California that was formed in 1990. Tool is considered the ‘thinking man’s rock band’ by many. This is because their lyrics and musical style are heavily cerebral. You will not find faith and devotion in their music like you would with U2, nor would you find themes of love and tenderness as you would in HIM’s music. Instead, you will be challenged to open your mind and explore the deepest recesses of your own psychology. This is not chill-out music. Instead, Tool creates meaningful psychedelic experiences of the highest order. It explores consciousness and the nature of things.
To better understand what the band is all about, here is an example:
In the cover song of their album ‘Lateralus’, lead singer Maynard James Keenan sings,
“Black then white are all I see
In my infancy.
Red and yellow then came to be,
Reaching out to me,
Lets me see.”
The words here are not convoluted or implicit. The band is talking about how we start our lives or, in fact, any new endeavor, with a defined sense of right and wrong. We feel that there is some way that things ought to be, and that that there is another way in which they actually are. This way of thinking limits our growth and understand. Then, we start seeing the colors of reality. We realize that it isn’t all binary, and that this realization ‘lets us truly see’ for the first time.
Heres another example of Tools highly cerebral and meaning-packed message (from the same song):
“Over-thinking, over-analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition(…)”
Tool is speaking about the common and modern malady of obsession. This message is mirrored in ancient spiritual teachings around the world. ‘Let go, trust, surrender. Do not try to control too much’ – this line of thought is a fundamental in consciousness-centric philosophies like Zen and Advaita Vedanta.
If you are in need of soul-searching or just want to be provoked to think, listen to this band.
Audioslave is a super-group whose members were originally members of other renowned bands. The lead guitarist, Tom Morello, fed the fire that was Rage Against the Machine before joining this endeavor. The lead singer (and lyricist), Chris Cornell, belonged to the super-hit rock band, ‘Soundgarden’.
Many people have heard of this band, even if they are not familiar with their music. They gained mass publicity owing to the suicide of the lead singer, Chris Cornell, in early 2017. His death was considered as a real blow to the musical community, as he was regarded as one of the most iconic singers and lyricists in modern rock. While many will miss him deeply, his music lives on…
Audioslave’s music can be classified as deep, powerful, and soul-wrenching. Chris Cornells lyrics frequently visit the realm of deep suffering and the torture of the soul that is disconnected from God.
Their song, ‘Out of Exile’, is a prime example of this. Here are a few lines from the chorus of the song:
“When you come down to take me home
send my soul away
When you come round you’ll make me whole
send my soul away”
These words hint at a deep disturbance in our souls and the sense of incompleteness we feel when we are not connected with our own divine selves (and the divinity that pervades us.)
Another song that exemplifies Audioslave’s theme of soul-wrenching existential pain is ‘Show Me How To Live’. In this song, Chris Cornell sings:
Speaking to a sense of separation from God and the confusion that is born, Chris Cornell vents his frustration and invites you to join in venting yours.
If you are feeling deeply and spiritually lost and frustrated, perhaps listening to Audioslave can give you some company in your pain.
Finally, and the second most popular band on our list, is the American gothic rock band Evanescence. It is also the only band on our list with a female lead singer (although this was not the reason for our choices.)
Evanescence is known for their soulful music which has an ethereal, other-worldly quality. Their music is chock-full of spiritual messages and references to religion and spirituality. The theme that pervades their music is damnation and redemption.
In ‘Tourniquet’, Amy Lee – the lead singer of the band – sings:
“I tried to kill my pain
But only brought more
So much more”
“I’m dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?
My God my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God my tourniquet
Return to me salvation”
Evanescence is singing about the sense of sickness and damnation that torments a person when they commit crimes against nature – including against themselves. Trying to ‘kill one’s own pain’ is an act that usually hurts more than helps. She cries to God to save her soul.
Another penetrating song from this band is “Bring Me To Life”. In this song, Amy Lee sings:
“(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
Call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
Before I come undone
Save me from the nothing I’ve become”
Again, here you can see the desperate call of a lost soul to the divine to give it guidance. Evanescence portrays the pain of making human choices and striving to be connected to divinity.
So there it is! LiveLifeKingSize’s Top 5 Unexpectedly Spiritual Rock Bands!
We suggest that you find some time, buy a six-pack (or prayer beads, whichever flavor of meditation you like best!) and connect with your existential roots and with the intelligence of life.
We hope that this blog not only helps you find music that you enjoy, but that can make you grow and be a stronger, more whole human being.