Released on: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
Barring a few electronic effects, ‘Dead Martyrs’ is one of the purest examples of Know Your Enemy‘s fairly straightforwardly hard-rocking mode. There’s no particularly complex ideas at work, just a simple verse-chorus structure backed up by a set of driving guitars and a drum track from Moore which makes heavy use of rapid-fire cymbal work throughout. The primary hook is the huge, cosmic-themed chorus which is of a sort which Bradfield could belt out with gleeful ease by 2001.
There’s not a huge amount to go on in the way of lyrics, but the song is clearly about the subject of martyrdom and probably about trying to define that concept as much as anything else. Maybe the most striking line is “dead martyrs always take it further”. Presumably, this is meant to mean that a martyr is someone who takes a cause so seriously, takes it just that bit further than anyone else, that they necessarily make powerful enemies and they tend to wind up dead. There are any number of examples of this, many of which have shown up in past Manics lyrics.
Perhaps the most obvious example is Che Guevara, whose militant campaign against imperialism led to his death during a CIA-backed military operation in Bolivia in 1967. Thanks to a photograph taken by Alberto Korda, Guevara’s image has lived on as one of the most recognisable in the world today. Guevara was previously mentioned in [A62] ‘Revol’.
All in all, ‘Dead Martyrs’ may not be exceptionally outré or innovative, but it is another fine contribution to the proud tradition of balls-to-the-wall Manics rock monsters, and certainly one of the best of those found on Know Your Enemy.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“had a beginning but it got no end”