Evil That Men Do by Iron Maiden Lyrics Meaning – Unveiling the Legacy of Human Deeds


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Iron Maiden's Evil That Men Do at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning

Lyrics

Love is a razor and I walked the line on that silver blade
Slept in the dust with his daughter
Her eyes red with the slaughter of innocence
And I will pray for her, I will call her name out loud
I would bleed for her, if I could only see her now
Living on a razor’s edge, balancing on a ledge
Living on a razor’s edge and balancing on a ledge, yeah
Balancing on a ledge and living on a razor’s edge
Balancing on a ledge, you know, you know

The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on

Circle of fire, my baptism of joy, at an end it seems
The seventh lamb slain, the book of life opens before me
And I will pray for you, someday I may return
Don’t you cry for me, beyond is where I learn

Living on a razor’s edge, balancing on a ledge
Living on a razor’s edge, you know, you know

The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on

Living on a razor’s edge, balancing on a ledge
Living on a razor’s edge, you know, you know

The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil that men do lives on and on
The evil, the evil, the evil that men do
The evil, the evil, the evil that men do
Bow down

Full Lyrics

Iron Maiden, the bastions of British heavy metal, have long enthralled audiences with their intricate melodies, thunderous riffs, and thought-provoking lyrics. Few songs encapsulate their philosophical depth quite like ‘The Evil That Men Do.’ A track from their seventh studio album, ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ (1988), this song transcends the bounds of mere rock music, becoming a meditation on morality, legacy, and the inherent dualism within human nature.

While the ferocity of Iron Maiden’s instrumentation hooks the listener, it’s the ponderous narrative within ‘The Evil That Men Do’ that invites a deeper contemplation. The lyrics, penned by bassist Steve Harris, to the band’s infamous frontman Bruce Dickinson’s soaring vocals, entwine to form a diorama reflecting both the grandeur and the tragedy of the human experience.

The Razor’s Edge: Bold Imagery and Stark Realities

Iron Maiden has a penchant for vibrant imagery, and ‘The Evil That Men Do’ opens with a powerful one: ‘Love is a razor and I walked the line on that silver blade.’ Here, love is likened to a precarious, potentially destructive force that one must tread carefully. This metaphor sets the tone for the entire piece, signifying the fine line between the bliss and the pain that our deepest emotions can evoke.

The vivid scenes continue as we encounter the ‘slaughter of innocence’ and ‘a circle of fire’ which may suggest trials by fire—both literal and metaphorical. These themes of purification, sacrifice, and tribulation are not new to the Iron Maiden lexicon, often emerging as motifs in their storied discography.

A Lingering Darkness: The Lasting Impact of Our Actions

Perhaps the most resonant refrain of the song is its title line: ‘The evil that men do lives on and on.’ This mantra serves as a chilling reminder of the enduring nature of our darkest deeds. It reflects a contemplation on the extent to which we, as individuals and as societies, grapple with the consequences of our actions, long after they’ve been committed.

Contrasting the permanence of ‘evil,’ the song implores us to consider the fleeting nature of good deeds—like wisps of smoke, they may dissipate into the ether, overpowered by the more ominous echoes of wrongdoing. How can one’s positive actions resonate through time with as much weight and persistence as the negativity we seek to overcome?

Baptism by Fire: A Testament to Suffering and Redemption

Midway through the song, the narrator speaks of a ‘baptism of joy at an end’ and ‘the seventh lamb slain.’ These allusions to biblical eschatology suggest an end-times scenario where judgment is at hand. For the protagonist, these references represent a cyclical tale of learning, suffering, and the hope of eventual return, possibly hinting at reincarnation or spiritual evolution.

In ‘The Evil That Men Do,’ suffering is thereby not meaningless but a pathway—a crucible in which one’s true nature can be tried and understood. Through these trials, the soul might emerge, scathed but enlightened, ready to impart hard-earned knowledge beyond the mortal coil.

The Cryptic Chronicles: Unlocking the Song’s Hidden Meaning

Fans have speculated various interpretations of ‘The Evil That Men Do.’ Some believe it’s a scathing criticism of human folly and war. Others see it as a complex allegory for personal struggles and the duality of man. The reference to the ‘book of life’ opening could indicate an ultimate reckoning—a reminder that all deeds are recorded and remembered, forcing listeners to reflect upon their own legacies.

Iron Maiden’s use of intertextual references—spanning from religious texts to historical events—imbues the song with layers of potential meaning. Each verse, each chorus, might serve as a mirror in which the diverse experiences and fears of the audience are reflected.

The Words That Resonate: Memorable Lines and Their Echoes

Beyond the anthemic chorus, specific lines in the song grip the psyche and refuse to let go, like the proclamation: ‘But I will pray for her, I will call her name out loud, I would bleed for her, if I could only see her now.’ Here, there is a poignant display of devotion and sacrifice that underscores the human capacity for love and the pain it can engender.

‘Don’t you cry for me, beyond is where I learn’ signifies a farewell that carries the weight of an eternal learning journey. The narrator expresses a stoicism in the face of parting, suggesting that what is to come is necessary for growth, solidifying ‘The Evil That Men Do’ not only as a song but as a philosophical exploration of life’s enigmatic purpose.

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