I really like the sound they had at that time…it was dirty and raw.
For this song they got the idea from war stories they heard when they did a show at an American Air Force base during a tour of Europe. The four members wrote the song when they were in a grim deserted place in Zurich where they were playing for a small sum of money to an even smaller audience.
The band wanted to use this as the title of the album, but the record company thought it was too controversial and made them use “Paranoid,” another song on the album, instead. The album art, however, is a literal interpretation of a “War Pig,” showing a war “pig” with a sword and shield.
It was originally titled ‘Walpurgis’, an anniversary associated with witches and Satanists, but was changed on the recommendation of Black Sabbath’s record company. Ozzy released the original version on his 1997 album The Ozzman Cometh… the song though as the finish product was…just talk about the nightmare of War.
Geezer Butler : “Britain was on the verge of being brought into it, there was protests in the street, all kinds of anti -Vietnam things going on. War is the real Satanism. Politicians are the real Satanists. That’s what I was trying to say.”
This is one of many Black Sabbath songs that is often misinterpreted as evil. The song speaks out against the horrors of war.
On the US albums, this is listed as “War Pigs/Luke’s Wall.” “Luke’s Wall” is another name for the end of the song.
On the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity In Black, Faith No More contributed a live cover version. Faith No More also covered this on their 1989 album The Real Thing.
War Pigs has been used as the name of various Black Sabbath tribute bands. We found one in Australia and another in Long Island, NY.
Ozzy’s former guitarist Zakk Wylde did a cover of this song after he went solo. Other artists who did covers: Slaves on Dope, Pig, Ether, Faith No More, Weezer, Boss Tweed, Red House Painters, Members Only, Badlands, Soulfly, Vital Remains, Ween, Sheavy, Gov’t Mule, Phish, Sacred Reich, Alice Donut, Flores Secas, Banda Arie, and Flores Secas.
This song is used for an encore in the video game Guitar Hero II for Playstation 2 and Xbox 360.
When the Sacramento band Tesla recorded this in 2007, lead guitarist Frank Hannon added a peace of Jimi Hendrix flavored “The Star Spangled Banner” to start the song.” It is the final track on Tesla’s Real To Reel 2-disk cover album, which is a tribute to Tesla’s mentors.
The song starts with the lyric, “Generals gathered in their masses. Just like witches at black masses.” Bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler was asked during a 2013 interview with Spin magazine why he used “masses” twice rather than coming up with a different word. “I just couldn’t think of anything else to rhyme with it,” he admitted. “And a lot of the old Victorian poets used to do stuff like that – rhyming the same word together. It didn’t really bother me. It wasn’t a lesson in poetry or anything.”
The song soundtracked a TV spot previewing the 2014 movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire.
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!
Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’till their judgment day comes
Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!