"Virus" as written by Bayley Cooke, Janick Gers, Stephen Percy Harris and David Michael Murray....
There's an evil virus that's threatening mankind
Not state of the art, a serious state of the mind
The muggers, the backstabbers, the two faced elite
A menace to society, a social disease

Rape of the mind is a social disorder
The cynics, the apathy one-upmanship order

Watching beginnings of social decay
Gloating or sneering at life's disarray
Eating away at your own self esteem
Pouncing on every word that you might be saying

Rape of the mind is a social disorder
The cynics, the apathy one-upmanship order

Superficially smiling a shake of the hand
As soon as the back is turned treachery is planned

Rape of the mind is a social disorder
The cynics, the apathy one-upmanship order

Watching beginnings of social decay
Gloating or sneering at life's disarray

When every good thing's laid to waste
By all the jealousy and hate
By all the acid wit and rapier lies

And every time you think you're safe
And when you go to turn away
You know they're sharpening all their paper knives

All in your mind
All in your head
Try to relate it

All in your mind
All in your head
Try to escape it

Without a conscience they destroy
And that's a thing that they enjoy
They're a sickness that's in all our minds

They want to sink the ship and leave
The way they laugh at you and me
You know it happens all the time

All in your mind
All in your head
Try to relate it

All in your mind
All in your head
Try to escape it

The rats in the cellar you know who you are
Or do you?

Watching beginnings of social decay


Lyrics submitted by thekronic420

"Virus" as written by David Michael Murray Bayley Cooke

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Virus song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +1
    General Commentits acually vise-versa. the man recorded in the the GSBE song ripped it off this Iron Maiden song. I love the lyrics. So strong and poignant.
    izardstreeton July 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is so true reminds of the kids at my school
    FRYLORD13on August 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthat's like the popular kids in high school and like people in the real world.
    flaminmofoon October 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdefinitely one of the best lyrics and songs of all time...
    venusblewon November 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti no where u guys r coming from, but i thnk this songs bout the mean world of business and how every1 shafts eachother etc, etc
    maidenforceon December 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is very poetic in nature, so it can mean almost anything. Politics, religion, society, relationships, you name it. But the inspiration for the song was all the bad reviews The X Factor was getting, and how the band felt angry and wanted to expose journalists and the media for what they really are.

    A virus can't live without a host, and journalists can't make money without someone talented and different to destroy.
    reumerenon February 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThese are some thoughts I posted on Shinedown's "Sound of Madness" songmeanings page, but I hope they will be more (or at least equally) appreciated here. I have expounded on the original post quite a bit, but the core message remains unaltered...

    "Sound of Madness" is a popular song you may have heard that was written by Shinedown's lead singer, Brent Smith. However, if you are unfamiliar with the song I encourage you to give it a listen so that you might better comprehend my following post.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From a lyrical standpoint, the themes explored in Shinedown's "Sound of Madness" and in Iron Maiden's "Virus" are, I believe, identical. However, the viewpoints displayed toward this same theme of these two songs prove to contrast greatly. This realization has piqued my curiosity, and as a result I will attempt to deduce and explain exactly what makes the messages promoted by each band so radically different.

    F.Y.I. I understand that this may appear to be quite random at first glance, but it has been an issue that has led me into deep thought many times lately, and I think it definitely deserves in-depth exploration. Once you read further on, should you be generous with your time enough to do so, I believe my interests in this seemingly "fruitless" topic will indeed prove valid.

    Furthermore, this seems to be an optimal forum for the type of fiery discussion that I like to encourage, and I sincerely hope that the arguments and observations I present further down in this post will help generate intense thought and debate among readers, but honestly if only a handful of insightful readers take the time to read and process this post I will be quite content. I definitely value the input of intelligent people whether we are in agreement or not, so if you do happen to have a differing opinion feel free to mount a rebuttal. Also, if the ever so rare instance of total consensus occurs I have no doubt I would greatly benefit from hearing whatever you might have to add. After all, two truths are always better than one.

    I digress...

    I seriously doubt, as I initially suspected upon hearing "Sound of Madness", that Brent Smith actually intended on dissing Iron Maiden when he penned the lyrics of his aforementioned song. There is little call to believe that the reason identical terms appear in both songs is anything but coincidental. The term I am referring to is "social disease" which will be made apparent as I list some lyrical content here very shortly. I believe this occurrence of identical terminology is an interesting novelty and nothing more, therefore I feel the topic deserves no further discussion. My main interests lie in the contrasting messages of these songs which I will explain much more conclusively later.

    I would now like to present lyrics that I believe to be the most pertinent to this discussion...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The lyrics, in entirety, of the Brent Smith penned "Sound of Madness":

    "Yeah I get it you're an outcast
    Always under attack
    Always coming in last
    Bringing up the past
    No one owes you anything
    I think you need a shotgun blast
    A kick in the ass
    So paranoid
    Watch your back!

    Oh my here we go
    Another loose cannon gone bi-polar
    Slipped down couldn't get much lower
    Quicksand's got no sense of humor
    I'm still laughing like hell

    You think that by crying for me
    Looking so sorry that I'm gonna believe
    You've been affected by a social disease
    Well then take your medicine

    I created the sound of madness
    Wrote the book on pain
    Somehow I'm still here to explain
    That the darkest hour never comes in the night
    You can sleep with a gun
    But when you gonna wake up and fight
    For yourself

    I'm so sick of this tombstone mentality
    If there's an afterlife, then it'll set you free
    But I'm not gonna part the seas
    You're a self-fulfilling prophecy

    You think that by crying to me
    Looking so sorry that I'm gonna believe
    You've been affected by a social disease
    Well then take your medicine

    When you gonna wake up and fight
    For yourself

    When you gonna wake up and fight
    For yourself

    When you gonna wake up and fight
    For yourself"

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some lyrics taken from Iron Maiden's "Virus":

    "There's an evil virus that's threatening mankind
    Not state of the art, a serious state of the mind
    The muggers, the back stabbers, the two faced elite
    A menace to society, a social disease

    Rape of the mind is a social disorder
    The cynics, the apathy one-upmanship order

    Watching beginnings of social decay
    Gloating or searing at life's disarray
    Eating away at your own self esteem
    Pouncing on every word that you might be saying...

    ...Without a conscience they destroy
    And that's a thing that they enjoy
    They're a sickness that's in all our minds

    They want to sink the ship and leave
    The way they laugh at you and me
    You know it happens all the time

    All in your mind
    All in your head
    Try to relate it

    All in your mind
    All in your head
    Try to escape it..."

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I will now offer a little background information for "Virus" and "Sound of Madness" and explain why I felt it necessary to compare and contrast two songs that might initially appear to be a completely random pairing.

    "Virus", as I am sure most of you are already fully aware, was written via the collaborative efforts of four members of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden (Blaze Bayley, Steve Harris, Janick Gers, Dave Murray) and it is widely considered by critics to be among Maiden's best. My views usually clash heavily with those of these "Rolling Stone" type elitists, but in this case the critics and I are in complete agreement. I have known this song well for years now, and it is one of my all-time favorites. Therefore, due to my familiarity with the lyrics and message of "Virus", this song came to mind quite suddenly as I listened to Brent Smith's "Sound of Madness" for the first time. My problems with "Sound of Madness" and Brent Smith himself grew exponentially as my efforts to determine said song's meaning increased.

    Before I heard "Sound of Madness" I had absolutely no problems with Brent Smith and his band, Shinedown. In fact, I actually enjoyed their music and even had the pleasure of seeing them live shortly after the release of their debut album. I was particularly impressed by Brent's vocal prowess. He has the ability to sing in concert with the same range and power heard in the band's studio recordings. My experiences as a frequent concert-goer and even more frequent listener of live recordings taught me that this caliber of live performer is a rarity. For example, in spite of his unparalleled stage presence and charisma I find that even Bruce Dickinson's live vocalizations lack much of the same flawless projection, endurance, and dimension that he never fails to achieve when in the studio. I know many of you think it is blasphemy for me to say such a thing about Bruce, but trust me when I say that I have the utmost appreciation for him. To call him an "awesome" live performer would be an understatement. He is astounding, and I do enjoy his live vocals, however I cannot deny that his vocal abilities have gotten weaker as the years upon years of performing have piled on, and this is perfectly understandable. I would still be the first in line for tickets to an Iron Maiden show or even to a Bruce Dickinson solo concert because someone with a stage persona of his magnitude doesn't need to sing perfectly in my book. I am not denying his greatness. I'm just pointing out the fact that Bruce often takes many liberties when singing in a live forum, and like it or not that's just the truth.

    Don't get me wrong. I will always feel levels of admiration and appreciation for Bruce, Blaze, and indeed all past and present members of Iron Maiden that will forever outweigh any positive notions I could ever express for Brent Smith or Shinedown. As a matter of fact there are very few compliments I can give up to someone like Brent Smith. As you have probably noticed I now harbor an extremely critical outlook on Brent Smith as both a person and a songwriter and I will explain in full spectrum the catalyst for my current attitude later. Despite such animosity, I still believe that any logical person with ears would concur that Brent's skills as a vocalist are undeniable and deserving of respect.

    I divulged the above information in order to construct a sufficiently viable testament regarding my knowledge of the bands Iron Maiden and Shinedown. It is necessary for me to reassure you that I am not writing this harangue in ignorance for mere "shits 'n' giggles" or out of some need for superficial attention. I am in a burdening quandary, and in order to get out of it I must address certain objections I have to Brent Smith's recent behavior, even if I wind up writing to myself.

    Ideally, I intend on getting those of you who are willing to read my lengthy post as hyped-up and angry as I am about the meaning behind the song "Sound of Madness". I also desire to make aware certain inexcusable flaws in Brent's character that I have come to notice. By doing this I hope you will also become mindful of the potential dangers that lie in believing and spreading the careless way of thinking that Brent Smith advocates.

    I will admit that Brent probably does not intend for his lyrics in "Sound of Madness" to be as offensive as they should be perceived. I also believe that the majority of those who listen to "Sound of Madness" do not unearth the potential for harm that is in its message, and even those who know its lyrics by heart don't likely ever take time to seriously dissect and interpret them. After all, "Sound of Madness" is just a stupid song. It is just a song, and I won't dispute that in all likelihood a dime-a-dozen song like this will never cause distress worthy of global attention, however I still feel that people who make unwise statements like Shinedown's Brent Smith should be made accountable. "Sound of Madness" is short and simple in its construction, but its meaning carries some pretty hefty weight.

    As I said, Brent probably never meant for his little song to be taken so seriously, but I honestly don't care what his intentions were. After all, I'm sure he never intended for a regular Joe like me to psychoanalyze him through his lyrics, but from the minute I first listened to "Sound of Madness" I have felt that something was seriously wrong with it... something beyond the pale, and eventually this irked me enough to initiate my search for the true meaning of it. When I finally did finish "wasting my time" analyzing "Sound of Madness" I not only had a pretty rock-solid interpretation of the song but a pretty good picture of Brent's true self as well.

    It is quite obvious to me that more words do not necessarily result in a more powerful message. A "simple" statement like "Give peace a chance" has the potential to be 1000 times more powerful than a statement 1000 times longer. For example, I'm fairly sure that the famous quote "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" has made more of an impact over the last 22 years than this diatribe will in a million. Thus, I believe that the "it's just a song" excuse is nothing more than a major cop-out.

    Even if Brent genuinely does not know the magnitude of the unfounded, arrogant aspersions he has made by writing "Sound of Madness", I don't recall "ignorance" ever being a passable excuse:

    "I'm sorry, Officer, but I didn't know it was illegal to do cocaine and fire off automatic shotguns in the Wal-Mart parking lot"... Yeah, I'm pretty sure playing "ignorant" doesn't fly.

    On the other hand, if Brent did know that by writing this song he would come off as a complete assbag to anyone who might have free time to mull over his chosen lyrics then that is either an act of stupidity or carelessness. Either way, I would probably go ahead and plead "ignorance" on this one because I'd rather say "I didn't know" than "I'm a moron".

    If you say something blatantly stupid then you should expect some criticism. Sorry, Brent, but even rock stars aren't exempt from this... Just ask Axl Rose if you don't believe me. I'm sorry, but if I am fully prepared to take criticism for the things I throw out in this humble post (and I am) then someone like Brent Smith, who's songs are broadcasted and downloaded countless times a day, should prepare to catch some flack for spreading a viewpoint that is so idiotic even Darth Vader wouldn't endorse it. Granted, I know Brent Smith will never see this, and I really don't care. I make no apologies. I just want the infinitely patient people still reading this to know that there is a hypocrite out there spreading misinformation... even if this misinformation is found in what you probably still consider only a "stupid song". Personally, I think there is no problem too small.

    Frankly, there is zero logic or reason to be found within the viewpoint proclaimed in "Sound of Madness". Therefore, Brent cannot possibly step away from this without coming off in a bad light. Either he's ignorant or he's an asshole, and if you can muster the strength to bear with my ranting a bit longer I fully intend on proving this fact to you.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Now, onto the meat...

    My interpretations are up next, but as a prerequisite I must stress the fact that I am not some sort of fundamentalist mainstream rock hater out to defame bands like Shinedown for no legitimate purpose. I can assure you that my interpretations are logical and that all lyrical elements in "Virus" and "Sound of Madness" have been heavily deliberated. I will make every effort to supply sufficient evidence to verify any claims I make.

    "Virus" is a song about depression, paranoia, and "social disease[s]" in general. "Sound of Madness" is also a song about depression, paranoia, and "social disease[s]" in general. The differentiating factor is that Shinedown's (Brent's) view on these concepts serves only to multiply the problems mentioned and offers no helpful commentary regarding them. "Sound of Madness" is a song that may seem fairly straightforward at first, but I believe that any reasonable-minded person will be revolted by the contradictions and hypocrisies within this song. If you think Brent Smith is not a hypocrite after I have illustrated my points then that is fine with me. I cannot force my beliefs on you nor would I want to, however if you think logically then I feel you will be unable to ignore in good conscience the fallacies in the lyrics of "Sound of Madness".

    It is clear to me that "Virus" presents an empathetic outlook toward those who feel a certain degree of inferiority to peers and alienation from society, whereas Brent Smith proclaims that those who suffer to simply "walk it off" so to speak. He states that they should "get up and fight", but the tone of the entire song is so disparaging against the mentally ill that those who might be "fight[ing]" cannot help but be discouraged.

    Let me just say that I am not depressed nor have I ever been for any noteworthy period of time. I have not suffered mental illness, however I do know a significant bit about certain mental disorders because A. I can read, and B. I was a psychology major in college, thus I am thoroughly confident in my knowledge of this subject. I do not work in the psychology field but I have maintained a heavy interest in the subject and spend time studying it almost every day. If you don't believe or understand some of the things related to psychology that I bring up then feel free to browse the internet for psychology articles, etc. Just try to avoid Wikipedia.

    Anyway, Iron Maiden takes initiative by calling attention to certain happenings in our society and ourselves that cause individuals to become anti-social, paranoid, etc. They offer up insightful and constructive commentary on these certain "evils" that so often plague the minds of the disenchanted. "Virus" is not a song that encourages ruminating on personal problems like so many popular songs advocate. It also doesn't make off-the-cuff and totally unsupported claims that physical punishment is the best way to cure a person with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. Brent asserts that a figurative "shotgun blast" or a "kick in the ass" is the best treatment for someone with mental illness. Brent wants people to "wake up" and just get over their problems, but this is a highly illogical suggestion for anyone with a mental disorder. Mental illnesses most often take a great deal of time and work to improve. If, for example, a teenage boy with a severe social anxiety disorder were to try one day to simply "get over it" by suddenly joining a fraternity or some other social club there is a very high probability that the sudden change from one extreme to the other will cause an incredible amount of distress for this person. This distress would be very hard on this person's mind and body...

    When you experience stress your body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline speeds up your heart rate, increases your blood pressure, and thus your body "ages" quicker. If you experience a lot of distress your adrenal glands are going to release a lot of adrenaline, and you are going to get physically "older" faster and most likely die sooner than someone with little distress. This is why it is almost always best to ease a mentally ill person slowly into a situation that said person would normally deem uncomfortable and stressful. This allows them to "get used to the water", limiting the amount of stress they experience significantly which, in turn, increases the chances of their recovery. Sudden, extreme changes are unhealthy for everybody but especially for people with mental illnesses. This type of change almost always spells failure when battling a mental illness. Therefore, a "kick in the ass", wake-up call attitude toward treating a mental disorder is exactly the type of "encouragement" they do not need.

    The guys who wrote "Virus" are clearly intelligent enough to know that the vast majority of people with mental illnesses or "social disease[s]" do not simply get out of bed one day and proclaim to be fully healed, and they will almost never recover if they try to go it alone. The fact remains that most people require clinical treatment that usually involves medication therapy, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two in order to get better. It is a song about mental suffering due to the negative thought patterns we sometimes develop that are often initiated by society and by ourselves, but it is not a song that encourages self-pity or self-loathing. In fact, the song aims to promote a positive state of mind:

    "...All in your mind
    All in your head
    Try to relate it

    All in your mind
    All in your head
    Try to escape it"

    "Virus" successfully pinpoints the catalysts for negative thought patterns and describes many fears that commonly afflict a person with a mental illness. It accomplishes this by presenting feelings of disdain toward the people who serve as catalysts for irrational fears in struggling individuals. I believe that the same lyrics are metaphors for the negative thoughts themselves. "Virus" personifies this type of negative thinking in its lyrics:

    "...The cynics, the apathy one-upmanship order...

    ...Superficially smiling a shake of the hand
    As soon as the back is turned treachery is planned...

    ..And every time you think you're safe
    And when you go to turn away
    You know they're sharpening all their paper knives...

    ...They want to sink the ship and leave
    The way they laugh at you and me..."

    I now know that Brent Smith has become one such offender described in the previous lines. It is painfully obvious in the lyrics of "Sound of Madness" that Brent wants to "sink the ship and leave". He calls out and bullies those suffering from depression, etc., yet in absolutely no way does he offer a rational solution to the very problems he brings attention to. Again, he suggests that a figurative "shotgun blast" or "kick in the ass" might do the trick, which is a cruel and ineffective method for dealing with someone weaker and more vulnerable than yourself. This type of attitude will more than likely drive a mentally ill person further down their spiral of disillusion.

    People with depression and other various mental disorders suffer from low self-esteem, and the more a depressed person is insulted and bullied (e.g. told that they are annoying and depressing to be around as Brent insinuates) the more that person will suffer, and as a result the chances that they will recover from their problems will go down. People who are depressed tell themselves that they are worthless, annoying, depressing, or any other negative thing one can imagine. The last thing they need is some other person encouraging their fears. These negative thoughts do not even need to be entertained much less confirmed. If a person is depressed it is almost as if they literally have another person within their mind that is always with them. This "person's" only job is to point out both the real and nonexistent flaws in the depressed individual. This figurative "person" is almost impossible to "kill" without getting professional help, but I guess "Dr. Brent" knows best.

    It is also common knowledge that depressed people can be depressing to be around. This is especially true if they have a "woe is me" type attitude, and most do. Many internalize their negative thoughts, but those that externalize their emotions can indeed be very annoying to be around. This is through no fault of their own, but I understand that nobody likes a complainer. However, one would think that someone like Brent, who has admittedly experienced a great deal of depression, could understand where these people are coming from. What Brent seems unable or unwilling to grasp is the concept of empathy. In "Sound of Madness" I believe Brent is a bully and nothing more.

    At one point in the song he even seems to make a veiled attempt to coerce the depressed into suicide:

    "...I'm so sick of this tombstone mentality
    If there's an afterlife, then it'll set you free..."

    Here Brent basically says, "I'm fed up with your annoying depression and complaining. 'If there's an afterlife, then it'll set you free', so go ahead and kill yourself. You're pain will end, and I will be rid of your whining". Brent has a great deal of nerve speaking out so shamelessly against people who are suicidally depressed, etc. considering the fact that he used to experience the same feelings (more on that below). He also goes on to say the following:

    " ...I created the sound of madness
    Wrote the book on pain
    Somehow I'm still here to explain..."

    This is one of the most arrogant statements I have heard in my entire life. The above lines are both arrogant and self-pitying and they serve to definitively contradict the rest of the song's stance on bashing the depressed. Brent is saying that he's been through some rough stuff, but it's not quite as simple as that. He "created the sound of madness". Here Brent is making the assertion (whether he realizes it or not) that his irrational behaviors and thought patterns were crazier than any "insane" emotions experienced by any other person in history. He invented insanity. He knows more about it than anybody, so if you think you have problems, sorry, but Brent's got you beat. It doesn't matter how severe your depression might be. He used to be the craziest person ever and he got over it, so you have no excuses. The same analysis can be applied to Brent's similar assertion that he "wrote the book on pain". The three lines above this paragraph are self-pitying and also self-indulgent and arrogant. The aforementioned fact solidifies Brent's status as a hypocrite. Brent feels people should have anger and disgust for those with "social disease[s]", but instead I'm left feeling only anger and disgust for him.

    In "Virus" Iron Maiden offers words of encouragement and empathy (in as metal fashion as possible of course) not only to the sufferers of mental illnesses, but to any "average Joe" who feels jaded and looked down upon every once in a while. After all, these are feelings that most every human being experiences periodically in life. The only people who should not take away a positive message from "Virus" are those who preach anger at those suffering mental pain. You must always diagnose the "Virus" before you can cure it, right? As Iron Maiden points out it is often times people like Brent Smith who are the "Virus", and they don't make a vaccine for idiocy.

    People who bring up problems all the time and then offer no rational solutions for solving them are nothing but complainers, and complainers are very annoying and probably just need a "shotgun blast" or a "kick in the ass" to get them to shut up and get over their issues. Hmmm... I think Brent has inadvertently asked for a taste of his own medicine... and, no, that was not some sort of vague threat. I don't wish him any physical trauma. I was simply illustrating a point.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On a final note, Brent was very hypocritical in writing Shinedown's hit song ".45" followed years later by "Sound of Madness". I've already established that Brent Smith is a walking contradiction. This is just icing on the cake...

    Here is what Brent has said in regard to the song ".45":

    "... Because I’ve been in that situation where I didn’t know if I wanted to continue going on and I didn’t know how to necessarily make myself comfortable with who I was, trying to find a way of learning more about myself. And you come from a dark place sometimes, and that’s really the reality of the song. It’s about overcoming and about moving forward..."

    Reading this quote has convinced me all the more that Brent did not get over his afflictions in one day. His process of "overcoming and... moving forward" clearly took time and a great deal of work on his part, so for him to suggest that people simply get over their issues serves only to demoralize and degrade the very type of person that he admittedly used to be.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The issues I presented in this post have been bothering me for a while, so it's been good to get them off my chest if nothing else. In closing I'll leave you with two telling lines from "Virus":

    "...The rats in the cellar you know who you are...
    Or do you?..."

    I don't think Brent does.
    LeadEnemaon July 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis Song Kicks ass,im nots ure of the meaning but i loooove the part where they fuckin have the corus,the ahhhhhhhhh kicks ass
    Virus-Outlaw Tornon May 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI cant say i was a great fan of the Blaze Bailey reign but two songs stood out as great songs
    This and man on the edge
    The guitar riff is a big beast as alwayz
    man a cool song lyrically too
    A virus among todays sociaty
    Pulling it down,degrading etc etc
    .....kool
    BeastWithinon August 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a cover of a Godspeed You Black Emperor! song
    Yer_Maon July 14, 2006   Link

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