Black Tongue – Unveiling the Veil of Dark Metaphors in Heavy Metal


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Mastodon's Black Tongue at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Alchemy of Self-Mutilation – A Dance with Inner Demons
  5. Diamonds, Vines, and the Death of the Sun – Nature’s Elegy
  6. Who Owns the Dark? The Song’s Creeping Antagonist
  7. No Sanctuary in Sea or Forest – The Illusion of Escape
  8. The Resounding Echo of Memorable Lines

Lyrics

I burned out my eyes
I cut off my tongue
I sealed them with all of the silver
And now I have none

You killed the life
You took the diamond
You killed the vine
Death of the

You own the darkness
And taken my sight
You buried the stars underground
You’ve stolen the night

You can run to the sea
You can run to the forest
You can hide, but you’ll never escape

You’ve run out of lies
You’ve run out of time

You killed the life
You took the diamond
You killed the vine
Death of the sun

Full Lyrics

In the realm of heavy metal, Mastodon has always been a beast of its own nature. ‘Black Tongue’, a formidable track from their album ‘The Hunter’, serves as a visceral expression of despair and fury, wrapped around knotted lyricks smoldering with symbolism. Its intense fervor is a hallmark of Mastodon’s signature sound – complex, thought-provoking, and unapologetically raw.

Peeling back the layers of ‘Black Tongue’ reveals a tapestry woven with themes of loss, betrayal, and the irrevocable consequences of our actions. As we delve into its narrative, we find a stark depiction of self-inflicted wounds and the search for independence from a veiled oppressor, perhaps as personal as it is universal.

The Alchemy of Self-Mutilation – A Dance with Inner Demons

The opening lines, ‘I burned out my eyes, I cut off my tongue’, hit with an almost palpable intensity. This self-mutilation is a metaphorical descent into wilful blindness and silence, a severance from the world that points to a deep-seated need to escape a regrettable reality. It’s a macabre illustration of the lengths to which one will go to avoid the torment of truth or the responsibility of speech.

But it’s not just flight from truth—it’s the alchemical transformation of the self. The use of ‘silver’ in sealing these wounds speaks to a transmutation—of pain to armor, of weakness to barrier. The severing of sensory input becomes an act of turning leaden despair into a silvered fortress, yet it’s a hollow victory that leaves the protagonist void of sensation and experience.

Diamonds, Vines, and the Death of the Sun – Nature’s Elegy

The recurring imagery of diamonds and vines juxtaposes the precious against the vital, suggesting a theft not just of value but of life itself. These symbols of growth and wealth, cut down violently, point to a loss more profound than material. In the ‘death of the sun’, we are faced with the ultimate symbol of extinction—the end of warmth, light, and life-sustaining energy.

There’s an apocalyptic, environmental undertone to these verses, possibly reflecting on humanity’s disconnect with nature and the catastrophic consequences of our greed. The narrative pushes us to consider the ecological damage we inflict in pursuit of opulence, and paints a haunting picture of a world left barren by our avarice.

Who Owns the Dark? The Song’s Creeping Antagonist

While the narrator struggles with self-blinding and self-silencing, there’s a presence that ‘owns the darkness’, stealing sight and eclipsing stars. This entity is as much a conqueror as a suppressor—a force that has taken control of even the unseen, the unknown, and the night itself, elements that were once realms of freedom and mystery.

This antagonist may be external or simply another aspect of the narrator’s psyche, representing the inescapable darkness within. The darkness becomes a malevolent possessor, claiming what’s left of the soul in its unstoppable spread. It’s a relentless adversary that smothers hope and agency, leaving little room for escape or redemption.

No Sanctuary in Sea or Forest – The Illusion of Escape

Despite the breadth of nature’s landscapes—’the sea’ and ‘the forest’—there serves no refuge. These classical havens are rendered impotent, no longer sanctuaries but mere backdrops for the unceasing chase. The lyrics evoke an Orwellian nightmare, where freedom is an unattainable dream, and surveillance is total and absolute.

The imagery here suggests an overbearing sense of paranoia and entrapment. It’s a metaphorical wilderness, where one can hide but never truly disappear from the oppressive force that’s always one step behind. This loss of privacy, of seclusion, speaks to a modern world where technology often feels more like a tether than a tool for liberation.

The Resounding Echo of Memorable Lines

Mastodon crafts lines that cling to the mind with the tenacity of barbed hooks. ‘You killed the life, You took the diamond, You killed the vine, Death of the sun’ repeats with the weight of a dirge—a lamentation for what was, what could have been, and what is now irrevocably lost. It’s a mournful acknowledgment of irreversible acts and the deathly silence that follows.

‘You’ve run out of lies, You’ve run out of time’ speaks to an inevitable reckoning. It’s a declaration of an endgame, as much a predicament for the oppressor as for the oppressed. Each word is a tolling bell marking the passage to an inexorable finale that offers neither villain nor victim any reprieve from their shared downfall.

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