Rock and heavy metal prides itself on being a tight-knit family, but as with every family, there are occasionally some spectacular bust-ups. In this case, we're talking the beefs that have been known to flare up between some of our world's most beloved artists. Granted, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s rarely less than entertaining – and even better, it can throw up some killer songs. Here, we present the best examples of shit-talking, shade-throwing and sick burns in heavy music.
Nine Inch Nails – Starfuckers Inc. (Marilyn Manson and others)
In terms of a target, this is less a sniper bullet and more a machine gun spray. In 1999, Trent Reznor had fallen out with his protégé Marilyn Manson and wrote this vicious attack on Manson's behaviour, and celebrity status in general, for Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile album. Famously using another classic diss from Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain as one of the track's many barbs, Reznor admitted writing Starfuckers Inc. about Manson in a 2000 interview with Howard Stern.
“He was definitely one of the people I had in mind,” Reznor said, but by the time the song was released as a single in the middle of that year, the NIN man used the promotional video to batter everyone. It shows Reznor at a carnival smashing plates with the faces of everyone from Mariah Carey to Michael Stipe to Billy Corgan, chucking Manson’s CDs in a toilet and dunking a very unflattering Cortney Love lookalike in a container marked “waste”. One of the other celebs who was mocked in the video was Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. Of course, he wasn’t going to take that lying down...
Choice lyric: 'My god pouts on the cover of the magazine / My god is a shallow little bitch trying to make the scene'
Limp Bizkit – Hot Dog (Trent Reznor)
Say what you will about Fred Durst, but he was never the type of bloke to back down from an argument, so he was never going to just let Reznor cuss him out unanswered. video. On the opening song of Bizkit’s biggest selling album, 2000’s Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water, he made his feelings toward the Nine Inch Nails leader more than clear. Using lyrics from Reznor's own back catalogue against him, mixed with “46 fucks in this fucked up rhyme”, Durst couldn’t have been more explicit that Reznor was not on his Christmas card list. So exhaustive was the use of NIN material on the song that Reznor actually ended up getting a writing credit for Hot Dog. It’s hard to know who that would have been more upsetting for; Durst having to credit Reznor, or the perfectionist Reznor seeing his name on the album of a band he despised.
Choice lyric: 'Like a fucked up punk / With a fucked up mouth / A nine-inch nail'll get knocked the fuck out'
Megadeth – Liar (Chris Poland)
As any of the 1,275,326 people that have been in Megadeth can vouch, it’s wise not to get on the wrong side of Dave Mustaine. Take former guitarist Chris Poland, who felt the brunt of MegaDave’s ire after stealing a bunch of the band’s gear to fund his smack habit before, unsurprisingly, being given the elbow. The result was Liar, not so much a song as three minutes of spittle-flecked invective directed at the errant guitarist, in which Mustaine describes his ex-bandmate as “a sewer rat” and vividly describes his “abscessed, sunken veins, rot gut, scrambled brains.” Even Poland’s family get both barrels. “Oh you, you, you fucking liar!” concludes Mustaine, in case anyone was left confused by the ambiguity of the lyrics.
Choice lyrics: 'Your daddy is a wino, and your mommy's quite insane / From altar boy to sewer rat, you don't give a damn'
Nightwish – Bye Bye Beautiful (Tarja Turunen)
By the middle of the 2000s, Nightwish were on a steep upward career trajectory, but all was not well within the camp. Vocalist Tarja Turunen's relationship with the rest of her band had gone sour. She got an official letter to relieve her of her duties in October 2005, and Nightwish recruited Anette Olzon to replace her for 2007’s Dark Passion Play. Band leader Tuomas Holopainen then decided to stick the knife in further by including this track on the record, which details his dismay with her alleged lack of enthusiasm for the work they did, featuring such pointed lyrics as, “Did you ever read what I wrote you, did you ever listen to what we played?” Far more 'I’m not angry…'just disappointed' vibes than anything else on this list, but sometimes that hurts even more.
Choice lyrics: 'Did we get this far just to feel your hate? / Did we play to become only pawns in the game?'
Asking Alexandria – Sometimes it Ends (Danny Worsnop)
After almost a decade of meteoric success, frontman Danny Worsnop left Asking Alexandria at the start of 2015 to focus on his cock rock band We Are Harlot. His bandmate Ben Bruce couldn’t wait to see the back of him, telling Loudwire: “He didn’t like screaming, he didn’t like heavy music, he didn’t like the fans, he didn’t like anything to do with Asking Alexandria.” After recruiting new frontman Denis Stoff to replace Worsnop, Bruce didn’t waste any time in sticking the boot in with Sometimes It Ends. It even starts and ends with a recorded conversation detailing Bruce’s frustration, the guitarist openly using Danny’s name in the song, before turning into a big metalcore rager that makes it clear Danny had “crossed the line”. The album the song is taken from, The Black, came out in March 2016. Six months later, Worsnop was back in the band. Unsurprisingly they don’t play this one live.
Choice lyric: 'I won't forgive / I won't let go of what you've done'
The Acacia Strain – Skynet (Emmure)
2009 saw some serious metalcore beef when The Acacia Strain took aim at perceived copyists Emmure for 'borrowing' their style way too closely. TAS frontman Vincent Bennett puts counterpart Frankie Palmeri on blast: 'You're nothing but a fucking pig/And you owe me your life', he screams. Blimey! Emmure shot back a few months later with the song R2deepthroat which, save for the charming suggestion that Vincent’s better half knew what Frankie’s willy tasted like, didn’t really hit home. But after a backstage dust between the pair settled things, the two bands ended up touring together in 2014. Awww, a happy ending.
Choice lyric: 'Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery / Why would you ever want to be like me?'
Godsmack – Cryin’ Like a Bitch (Mötley Crüe)
In 2009, Godsmack were part of Mötley Crüe’s Crüe Fest 2 tour across the US. Vocalist Sully Erna didn’t have the best of times during the run. “There’s definitely been some rock star garbage on this tour that we have just never seen in our career,” he grumbled, before going on to dismiss the headliners as “old and fat”. A year later he still didn’t seem to be over it, as Godsmack released the song Cryin’ Like a Bitch, inspired by the events of that tour. While Erna has never explicitly stated it was inspired by the Crüe, he did tell Jamey Jasta in 2015 that he thinks Nikki Sixx is “a straight-up fucking douche.” Credit to Sixx for his two word response to Erna: “Poor baby.”
Choice lyrics: 'Strut on by like a king / Telling everybody they know nothing / Long lived what you thought you were / Time ain't on your side anymore'
Foo Fighters – Stacked Actors (Courtney Love)
Has music ever had a greater muse for venting frustration than Courtney Love? Everyone from Gwen Stefani to Tori Amos to The New Radicals to Nine Inch Nails have had her in mind when they want to cuss someone out. So, given the history between Courtney and Dave Grohl, it's been no surprise to see Foo Fighters have a pop at her, too. The Foos' 1999 album There Is Nothing Left To Lose was a far more melodic, pop-rock effort than their grungy first couple of LPs, but the opening track still packed a mighty punch.
Stacked Actors rides along on a doomy riff and a patented Grohl scream raging on the fake, plastic aesthetic of Hollywood, all seemingly inspired by the fallout between the Foos mainman and Love. The pair's problems have been well documented over the years, dating all the way back to the Nirvana days and continuing with lawsuits, copyright and royalty wrangles in the aftermath. At the time of Stacked Actors' release, Grohl denied that the song was specifically about Love, though it being right around the time of her big Hollywood breakout made it seem a little too much of a coincidence. Way down the line, he would in fact insinuate to Howard Stern that Courtney was the genesis of the idea. After two decades of bickering, the pair finally publicly made up after Nirvana’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014. Which is nice.
Infectious Grooves – Do What I Tell Ya (Rage Against The Machine)
One of Rage Against The Machine’s first tours was opening for Venice Beach skatepunk legends Suicidal Tendencies in Europe. But something clearly kicked off between the two camps, as Rage guitarist Tom Morello bitchily referred to Suicidal as “an old band” in a 1993 interview. Suicidal frontman Mike Muir was never one to bite his tongue, and he went after the upstarts. On his side project Infectious Grooves’ 1994 track Do What I Tell Ya, Muir turned Rage Machine’s famous “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” lyric back on them, sneeringly using RATM’s sloganeering as a club to beat them with. In the same song, he skewered the perceived hypocrisy of a bunch of self-professed anti-capitalists being signed to a major label: “Let’s not forget evil corporations, then why is Sony the sponsor of your presentations.” Boom! There’s the mic drop.
Choice lyric: 'Now you're making your political statement / Or are you trying to add to your financial statement?'
Pearl Jam – Glorified G (Dave Abbruzzese)
Dave Abbruzzese was a bloody good drummer and fitted Pearl Jam perfectly on a musical level. The two albums he is credited on, 1993’s Vs. and 1994’s Vitalogy, are both superb, but as a personality he really didn’t fit in with the Seattle grunge legends. While Pearl Jam’s liberal beliefs are more than well known, Abbruzzese grew up in Mesquite, Texas and was of a more conservative bent, leading to a series of personal disagreements within the band. Glorified G was written by vocalist Eddie Vedder after he had a conversation with Abbruzzese and the drummer revealed he had just bought two guns, something which disgusted Vedder and was immortalised in the opening line of the song. The rest of the track is mockingly written from the perspective of Abbruzzese and him feeling “so manly when armed”. Oh dear.
Choice lyric: 'Got a gun, fact I got two / That's OK man, 'cause I love god'