“Moth Into Flame” by Metallica

Generally speaking, the subject of “Moth Into Flame” is fame. Indeed the titular “flame” is actually a synonym for fame. And the “moths” would be the people attracted to such, as moths tend to be to flames. Now more to the point, we all know what happens when a moth actually makes contact with fire. These insects are actually enticed by something which at the end of the day is detrimental to their health. Sometimes it even leads to their deaths.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Metallica's Moth Into Flame at Lyrics.org.

Inspiration behind “Moth Into Flame”

James Hetfield was initially inspired to write this song after watching a documentary about Amy Winehouse. Winehouse (1983-2011) was a popular British musician who died from an alcohol overdose. She was only just 27 years old when she passed. However, it wasn’t so much her death which served James’ inspiration as opposed to the fact that the media harassed the damn out of her when she was alive – as they tend to do big celebrities. 

Indeed Hetfield was disturbed that such people, as depicted on the documentary, were so obsessed with getting a picture of Amy at any cost. For instance, in their attempt to do so, they even totally disregarded her visibly-deteriorating health. 

So with that in mind, the implication would be that he deems such insensitivity and harassment by the media to be the amongst the negative effects of being famous. Also, he is putting forth that being a celebrity – and particularly the quest for fame – contributed to the “Rehab” singer’s premature demise.

“Moth into Flame” criticizes our Obsession with Fame

And overall this song is meant to be a critique of modern society’s obsession with fame, i.e. obscure individuals chronicling their daily lives and exposing such to the world. So basically “Moth into Flame” is about aspiring for fame. And more particularly the negative effects of such an aspiration, particularly on a celebrity level. And these two themes are intermixed in the first and second verses. 

Fame is a wicked Seductress

But we can say the third and fourth verses center primarily on depicting “fame” as a “murderer”, as in something that destroys lives in general.  Indeed in the pre-chorus, Metallica presents it as an elusive type of malady. A wicked type of malady which gives its victims the impression that they’re “flying high”, when in reality, based on the singer’s perspective, it is actually sucking away their life force. 

Or as asserted in the chorus itself, fame is ‘seductive’. And at the end of the day, the singer considers those who base their lives on the acquisition of it as ‘selling their souls’.


So conclusively we can say that Metallica, one of the most-famous rock bands in the world themselves, knows a thing or two about fame. And it doesn’t seem as if they are about to give up their celebrity standing in acknowledgement of the disadvantages of it. Moreover we know that Hetfield in particular – when he is emotionally-charged as he was by the aforementioned documentary – can bring forth some really-powerful tunes. 

So at the end of the day, the band views fame as a deadly thing. They are therefore warning people who actually possess it to be cautious in the way they deal with it. And as for those who are not already famous, in all wisdom they should not make their primary quest in life to become so.

Facts about “Moth Into Flame”

Metallic debuted this song via a live performance on the “The Howard Stern Show”. The show took place on 26 September 2016.

The above-mentioned date is also the official release date for the song. This was because the band’s label issued the track as the second single from their album “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” on that very day. The first single from that album was “Hardwired“.

Another notable live performance of this song was on the date of 12 February 2017, at the Grammy Awards. At that event, Metallica performed the song alongside Lady Gaga. Unfortunately though part of the reason the presentation was so memorable is that it had its fair share of difficulties.

Tom Kirk served as the director of the music video to “Moth into Flame”. 

The song itself was written by Hetfield and Ulrich. Greg Fidelman handled the song’s production.

In 2017, Metallic actually dedicated a live performance of “Moth into Flame” to none other than Winehouse. The performance took place on November 1, 2017 in Antwerp, Belgium.

While performing this song live at the Slane Castle in Ireland in June, 2019, Hetfield stated categorically that this song is about “addiction”.

Did “Moth into Flame” win a Grammy?

No. But that being said, its album received a Grammy nomination.

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