Metallica – “Atlas, Rise!” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

“Atlas, Rise!” by Metallica is a powerful track that explores themes of resilience, burden, and the world’s weight on one’s shoulders. The song draws inspiration from the Greek mythology figure Atlas, who was condemned to hold up the sky for eternity. Metallica uses this imagery to delve into the feelings of carrying heavy burdens and the toll it takes on an individual. The message is twofold: it acknowledges the weight and struggle of responsibilities while also encouraging strength and perseverance. The songwriters, primarily James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, crafted this song to resonate with listeners who might feel overwhelmed by life’s demands, offering both a shared sense of struggle and a rallying cry to rise above.

Embark on a journey with Metallica’s “Atlas, Rise!” – a song that’s much more than heavy riffs and thunderous drums. Discover the profound messages hidden within the lyrics, and explore the resilience needed to carry the weight of the world. Are you ready to rise?

“Atlas, Rise!” Lyrics Meaning

“Bitterness and burden, curses rest on thee.” The song starts painting a picture of heaviness and struggle, much like Atlas in Greek mythology. “Solitaire and sorrow, all eternity.” These lines depict the isolation and sadness that come with carrying burdens, symbolizing the eternal struggle of Atlas.

“Save the Earth and claim perfection, deem the mass and blame rejection.” Here, Metallica touches on the desire to save the world and be perfect, but also acknowledges the blame and rejection that can come from others or oneself.

“Hold the pose, fein perception.” This line suggests maintaining a facade, pretending everything is okay even when bearing heavy burdens. “All you bear, all you carry, place it right on, right on me.” These recurring lines throughout the song act as a chorus, emphasizing the weight and responsibility being carried, and how it’s placed upon the individual.

“Die as you suffer in vain, own all the grief and the pain.” The lyrics convey a sense of struggle and suffering, highlighting the pain of carrying burdens. “Crushed under heavy skies, Atlas, rise!” The imagery of being crushed under heavy skies relates back to Atlas holding up the sky, and there’s a call to rise above the burdens.

“Masquerade as maker, heavy is the crown.” These lines delve into the idea of pretending to be in control or the creator of one’s destiny, while acknowledging the weight and responsibility that comes with it.

“Overload, the martyr stumbles, hit the ground and heaven crumbles.” This section of lyrics speaks to the idea of being overwhelmed, and even when trying to be a martyr or savior, one can still stumble and fall.

“Swallow all your pride.” In the end, there’s a call to let go of pride and perhaps the burdens one carries.

The Story Behind “Atlas, Rise!”

Released as part of Metallica’s tenth studio album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” in 2016, “Atlas, Rise!” came at a time when the band was reflecting on their lengthy career and the pressures that came with it. James Hetfield, the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, has been open about his struggles with addiction and the pressures of fame, and these themes are prevalent in the song’s lyrics.

Creating “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” was a long process, taking nearly eight years after their previous album. This period of time was marked by introspection and grappling with their legacy and future as a band. “Atlas, Rise!” can be seen as a culmination of these feelings, expressing the burdens of expectation and the resilience needed to overcome them.

Hetfield has mentioned in interviews that the song was also inspired by his interest in Greek mythology, specifically the story of Atlas. He saw parallels between the mythological figure and his own life, as well as the band’s journey. Metallica has always been a band that wears their struggles on their sleeve, and “Atlas, Rise!” is a prime example of this, offering a glimpse into their burdens and determination to rise above.