Part II – Frequent Words in Black Metal Lyrics

In the last post we tried to discover the most common terms used in black metal lyrics. One of the first questions that popped up was if there are there differences between countries, regarding the most frequent words. To answer this (in a very small scale) I’ve subsetted the original data set into two smaller sets: one for lyrics penned by Norwegian bands and the other for Iraqi bands. The following bar plot shows the top 15 most frequent words found in the lyrics of Norwegian bands. It does not seem to differ much from the global top 15, presented in our previous post.

Below you’ll find the most frequent words in the lyrics of Iraqi bands. Not only does it look much different from the Norwegian bar plot, it also differs significantly from the global results. I find it very interesting that lies corresponds to 0.9% of the total occurrences. This and the presence of both truth and blashpemy seems to point to some sort of deeper meaning here.  Or maybe it’s just all a coincidence because, again, with no contextual analysis we can’t really infer much. At any rate, it’s very likely that the lyrical concerns of Norwegian and Iraqi bands are distinct.

Part I – Frequent Words in Black Metal Lyrics

Ever wondered what, if any, patterns are there to be discovered in black metal lyrics? Well, I did, and started by simply finding out which words occur the most in this data set. After some cleaning and pre-processing, I’ve ended up using lyrics of 76039 songs by 24086 bands, from 116 different countries. Stop words (which can be roughly defined as very common and very uninformative words like the or or) were removed in this pre-processing stage. In the end, a total of 258610 distinct words occur, with the number of occurrences summing up to 5304046.

The following bar plot shows the top 15 most used words across the whole lyrics data set.

The most common term is death (not at all unexpected) represents 0.7% of the total number of occurrences of all distinct words. Other more or less expected results such as blood or darkness also make an appearance, but it is somewhat intriguing to find time in the top 5. So, what does this all mean? Well, not much (yet): simply counting the number of occurrences of individual words is not a good indicator of “meaning” because it discards the context in which the words appear, as well as the relationships between them, but provides very helpful hints.