Happy 4th of July: Here are 12 American-Ass Songs By Non-American Bands
Real talk, America on July 4th is a little like Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, both holidays have importantly historical traditions, and should be used to look at both countries’ histories and the ways in which they’re viewed by outsiders. But they’re also both a bit performative, and just as we like to listen to the Pogues and drink beer on March 17th, so too do we like to listen to Pantera and, well, drink beer on July 4th. Each day has a costume element to it, even if it’s an unfair and slightly inappropriate one.
As metalheads, we love assembling playlists for any occasion, and Independence Day is not exempt. However, with how international a community metal is, we often find ourselves filling these lists with bands who aren’t actually American. Certain tracks SEEM American to us, or FEEL American, but then we’re reminded that the people who wrote them aren’t even close. So to confront this phenomenon, and to celebrate those American-sounding bands, we put together a list of metal songs that feel July 4th appropriate, even if the makers were born far from the States.
Here are 12 American-sounding songs by non-American bands…
Judas Priest, “United” (British Steel, 1980)
Metalhead call to arms? American unity song? Pride anthem? Why not all three! Sure, Judas Priest are the ultimate British metal band – this song comes from an album with ‘British’ in the damn title – but this fist-pumper is pure ‘Murica. Put this one on at your neighborhood BBQ and watch some hardcore flag-wavers sing along in the name of the ol’ U.S. of A. Then tell them it was written by a gay dude from England and watch ’em squirm.
Sabaton, “Primo Victoria” (Primo Victoria, 2005)
No matter what America means to you, I think we can all agree: fuck the Nazis. And thankfully, Swedish military-metal powerhouse Sabaton have the ultimate song for stomping that swazi to pieces. That the lyrics are basically a history-book description of the facts of D-Day adds a certain level of patriotic nerdiness to the whole thing. You don’t have to love your country, you just have to kick the shit out of the Third Reich.
The Crown, “Dead Man’s Song” (Deathrace King, 2001)
Now here’s an interesting example of this phenomenon. “Dead Man’s Song” has no lyrics about America, or politics, or war, or anything typically associated with the U.S. But that big chonking riff just feels American as fuck in its plodding deliciousness. In that way, this song abstractly fits the rule of this list – it’s not all about America, it just feels, deep down, like America was involved. God, what a neck-wrecker.
Motörhead, “Born to Raise Hell” (Bastards, 1993)
Hold up, I hear some of you saying, Motörhead literally have a song named “America.” Which is true – but that song is definitely an examination of the States by someone who’s not from them. “Born to Raise Hell,” on the other hand, is an American biker drinking song through and through. Between its rhythm, lyrics, and gut-deep boogie, this is the sonic equivalent of a Budweiser flag can.
Turisas, “Take The Day!” (Stand Up and Fight, 2012)
On its surface, “Take the Day!” is a stirring precursor to Viking warfare. But to an average American, this song’s massive brass sections and scream-along chorus are about one thing: FOOTBALL. Yup, this folk metal song sounds written as an accompaniment to an NFL broadcast. Hey, we DO have a team named the Vikings!
Sepultura, “Propaganda” (Chaos AD, 1993)
It’s strange how Sepultura have always famously been from Brazil, but their effect on metal feels routed in American traditions. Case in point, “Propaganda” is a track about universal themes, with no real national allegiance – but it’s grinding riffs and big, swinging, groove-fueled breakdowns sound like they bubbled straight out of the States’ primordial soup. This isn’t to take ownership of Sepultura in any way – that band will always be Brazil to the core – but they just fit right in with their U.S. brethren, and always have.
Loudness, “Crazy Nights” (Thunder In The East, 1985)
Fuck yeah, Japanese hair metal! It’s worth noting that plenty of Loudness’ tracks are actually shreddier and more versatile than “Crazy Nights,” showing off what the band had to offer that was different from their Sunset Strip counterparts. That said, fuck, this is as big and Californian a hair metal single as one can find. Definitely feels like a tribute to a tradition started in America’s seediest bars.
King Diamond, “Halloween” (Fatal Portrait, 1986)
Though it has its origins in Ireland, Halloween is without question a real American holiday, refined, perfected, and truly celebrated in the U.S. Which is why having the song memorialized a Danish artist who never really grew up with the holiday is very fascinating. “Halloween” has become heavy metal’s ultimate seasonal tune, but the dudes who wrote it didn’t grow up carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating. Being able to own it none the less takes some serious skill.
Jinjer, “Outlander” (Cloud Factory, 2014)
Especially after the year they’ve had, Jinjer have become synonymous with their homeland of Ukraine. But there’s something about the rolling, buoyant groove metal of “Outlander” that immediately makes us think of American bands. The song’s grind and bounce reminds us of acts like Lamb of God and All That Remains, who we consider as American as apple pie. One of those tracks that makes us recognize some behavioral connections we’ve built in our brains.
Amon Amarth, “Get In The Ring” (The Great Heathen Army, 2022)
We’re just so used to hearing Amon Amarth lyrics about Odin, Loki, and drinking to gods like ‘em. So when one of their songs is basically an ultimate fighter’s diss track, that immediately jumps out at us. The band’s latest single is certainly universal in its waving of an opponent towards the protagonist, but the track’s inherently muscularity and toughness ring American for us. Then again, these dudes have landed hard in the U.S. in the past decade, so maybe we’re rubbing off on ‘em.
Sodom, “Ausgebombt” (Agent Orange, 1989)
Obviously, Sodom are one of Germany’s great thrash bands, and a pillar of that country’s influence on the genre. And most of their music embodies Deutschland’s icy, no-mercy approach to the genre. But “Ausgebombt” sounds straight out of the Bay Area, packed with that region’s jaunty, fleet-footed attitude. Somehow both absolutely German and atmospherically Californian.
Monster Truck, “Don’t Tell Me How to Live” (Sittin’ Heavy, 2016)
You know what was the goofiest part of Kid Rock using Monster Truck’s “Don’t Tell Me How to Live” as the basis of his recent Facebook dad track? That while he flies a million American flags and talks ‘Murican bullshit the whole time, Monster Truck are Canadian as fuck. Kid Rock made an anthem about tough-guy U.S.A. attitude, but had to import labor from outside the U.S. to do it. Participation trophies all around.