Top 20 Best Songs With Mythology References

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the folks of UG community discussing the matter of finest songs referring to mythology.

You boys 'n' gals have amassed a decent chunk of votes and around 400 comments, all of which have been summed up into a Top 20 rundown.

Before kicking things off, we'll point out that honorable mentions include Dethklok's "I Tamper with the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin," Manowar's "Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy," Judas Priest and "Halls of Valhalla," and Periphery's "Icarus Lives."

With all that stuff out of the way, the rundown awaits below.

20. Moonspell - Ataegina

Kicking things off with Lusitanian gods, Moonspell get to open this week's list with "Ataegina."

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19. Cream - Tales of Brave Ulysses

Inspired by Homer's "Oddysey," "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream features lyrics by Martin Sharp and music by Eric Clapton. One of the key references to the epic poem is the "how his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing" line.

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18. Tiamat - Gaia

Up next are Swedish Gothic heavy rockers Tiamat and the "Gaia" track off their 1994 record "Wildhoney." Mr. N-D noted: "In Greek mythology Gaia was the mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe. The heavenly gods, the Titans, and the Giants were born to her."

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17. Black Sabbath - The Battle of Tyr / Odin's Court / Valhalla

Giving some love to the Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath, you folks assigned "The Battle of Tyr / Odin's Court / Valhalla" with just enough votes to reach No. 17. In Norse mythology, Tyr - the son of Odin - is the god of single combat and heroic glory.

Tony Iommi said about the whole "Tyr" album: "On 'Headless Cross,' Tony had just come into the band and he assumed, 'Oh, Black Sabbath, it's all about the Devil, so his lyrics were full of the Devil and Satan. It was too much in your face. We told him to be a bit more subtle about it, sofor 'Tyr' he did all these lyrics about Nordic gods and whatnot. It took me a while to get my head around that."

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16. Therion - In the Desert of Set

Therion is one of those bands loaded with mythological references, and you folks singled out "In the Desert of Set" for this occasion. In Ancient Egyptian religion, Set is the god of desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners.

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15. Björk - Aurora

At No. 15 we have Björk and "Aurora," a song about "dissolving with pleasure, and just praying, asking, and demanding for that."

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14. Anthrax - Medusa

Featuring lyrics by Jon Zazula, Anthrax's "Medusa" is dedicated to the lady from Greek mythology whose gaze will turn you to stone.

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13. In Flames - Jotun

This week's Lucky 13 spot goes to In Flames and "Jotun."

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12. Burzum - Dauði Baldrs

As N-D explained, "The whole 'Dauði Baldrs' album is a concept album that tells the story from Norse mythology about the death of a good god Baldr and the subsequent end of the world (Ragnarok)."

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11. Blind Guardian - Valhalla

Coming from Blind Guardian's sophomore album "Follow the Blind," "Valhalla" is about the place where Odin and the Valkyries live and where souls of fallen warriors go.

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10. Thrice - Daedalus

You are probably aware of the legend of Icarus, and Thrice's "Daedalus" does an excellent job in giving the story a guitar-driven rendition. As the title indicates, the song is written from the perspective of Icarus' father and the man who gave him wings, Daedalus.

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9. The Sword - Freya

In Norse mythology, Freyja is the Odin's granddaughter and the goddess of love and fertility. She can transform into a falcon and rides a chariot drawn by two cats. Half of the warriors who fall in battle go to Odin's hall Valhalla, while the other half goes to Freyja's hall Folkvangar.

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8. Nile - The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu

Taking a technical death metal turn, up next is Nile with "The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu."

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7. Richard Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen

Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelunger" features a set of four epic music dramas based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the "Nibelungenlied," a Middle High German epic poem about dragon-slayer Siegfried. "The Ride of the Valkyries" theme from this composition stands out as one of its most recognizable pieces.

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6. Symphony X - The Odyssey

If you ever wanted to hear the tale of Odysseus in a metal manner, check out Symphony X's epic piece "The Odyssey."

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5. A Perfect Circle - Orestes

Combining personal meanings with the story of Orestes from the Greek mythology, A Perfect Circle's "Orestes" is up next at No. 5.

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4. Trivium - Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis

Most of you folks agreed that "Shogun" is Trivium's ultimate masterpiece, securing "Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis" a spot just a step away from the Big 3. Scylla and Charybdis are sea monsters noted by Homer, hence the meaning of the expression is essentially having to choose between two evils.

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3. Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand

Written during Robert Plant's recovery from a car incident which included a broken ankle, "Achilles Last Stand" is the third longest Led Zeppelin song, as well as one of the universally acclaimed precursors to the new wave of British heavy metal.

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2. Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God

The silver medal this week goes to Amon Amarth and "Twilight of the Thunder God." Thor's final battle with giant serpent Jormungandr during the Norse apocalypse Ragnarok - how much more metal can you get? In case you don't know the story, Thor defeats the snake, takes nine steps away from the battle and dies from its poison.

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1. Iron Maiden - Flight of Icarus

While "The Book of Souls" track got a solid amount of votes, and it's always nice to see fresh music getting recognition, this week's Iron Maiden representative is "Flight of Icarus," and it got the gold fair and square!

Once again, we're looking at a piece based on the legend of Icarus, but this time around Mr. Bruce Dickinson altered the tale to craft an allegory of teenage rebellion against adult authority.

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And that wraps it up, folks! Hope you enjoyed the ride, stay tuned until next week for another edition of WQ!

79 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nothing about jesus?
    C. Jasper
    I threw you an up vote. Jesus is as much mythology as any of the other, Greek, Roman, or Nordic gods mentioned. people have just add much faith about Jesus as people of ancient times had about their god. the funny part is, they all have an equal amount of proof of their existence... so again, up vote
    I know, right? Maybe we should wait a couple hundred more years until people start calling it mythology as well. Although, besides the old testament, it is not as epic and cool as the other ones =/
    C. Jasper
    indeed! It's a matter of time. if coarse that will happen when someone decides to come up with an even newer meaning of life. I do love those bad ass Greek sstories though
    Well, so far as anyone knows, Greek/Roman/Nordic gods have nothing to do with actual people. Jesus of Nazareth is widely recognised to have actually lived. He did a number of things as described in the Bible - namely teaching via parables, debated the nature of God with leading Jewish religious figures of the time, and got nailed to a cross. Scholarly opinion is widely skeptical of the 'raising people from the dead, curing leprosy and blindness by thelaying on of hands, rising from the dead and being the Son of God' stuff, though.
    actually, there you would be wrong. Roman historians all considered Jeshua to be a real person. Recently there was an account of a Roman historian that tells of Jeshua again, specifically one of the miracles from the Biblical account. Whether Jeshua was indeed divine is a matter of faith, but only a complete moron thinks that He was completely mythical
    Who the fuck is Jeshua? The OP is talking about Jesus.
    Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus. There's actual historical evidence a lot of events related to Jesus, all it takes is a quick google search.
    The Romans had some weird grammar rules that meant that every foreign name they encountered had to be 'latinized' to fit with their language. Jesus is simply a latinization of Yeshua, which was his real name. Not at all an uncommon name for Jews of the time actually.
    Anything that could possibly be vaguely misconstrued as not completely politically correct = edgy
    Doesn't change the fact that this became an r/atheism thread in no time. I'm an atheist myself but damn, this is just sad. Why be so invested in something you don't believe in in the first place?
    I think you mean the Christian God. Jesus was recorded by secular sources. It is whether or not he was the son of God or had powers which the debate comes. Also, THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE AHHHHH
    "To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation." -George Macdonald
    Mythology is one of my favorite subjects to talk, study, etc. Kicking my ass for not thinking of a few of these. Good list
    Glad to see Daedalus by Thrice on here, but it's worth mentioning it's the second of a two-part sequence. The Melting Point of Wax is the first part and tells the same story from Icarus's point of view. Both are incredible songs.
    so cool to see thrice on here. another song of theirs about icarus being The Melting Point Of Wax. That's a great song too
    Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand - what a song! Presence is certainly one of the underrated albums of all times. This cemented Page as a genius...if there was ever a doubt.
    Especially when you keep in mind that all the overdubbing were done in a single night session. Man, that smack must have been good!
    I didn't comment on this poll (should have), but I wonder whether anyone mentioned any songs by Septicflesh.
    So now a sixteen hour opera cycle consisting of four individual full-scale operas, in combination being one of the greatest works of western music gets declared as a "song" with mythology "references"? I have heard people mock Wagner in various ways in a highly intellectual context, but this one beats everything. Not to mentions his genius is apparently surpassed by mediocre metal bands. The earth only keeps spinning because of all the dead composers rotating in their graves.
    I scrolled the page and saw Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. Only name of this epic music reminds me that charlies don't surf.
    "melting point of wax" is better than "daedalus", and is literally the same myth by the same band, from another perspective.
    Always glad to see some Burzum, especially one of the less popular albums, or is Daudi Balders a popular ablum? I don't know, just glad to see Burzum.
    It troubles me that "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hempispheres" by Rush isn't on this list. It clearly references both Apollo, Dionysys and Olympus. Plus it's a kickass song!
    Hmm, anyone else wanna go play Smite now? I do...nah wait fuck that. I hate that game. Honestly I've only heard one of these songs before.