In 1986, two years before the live debut of the song, a book was written called The Harvest of Sorrow. It revealed the story of the deaths of five to ten million Ukrainians at the hands of the Soviet government, called the Holodomor. The Metallica song is strikingly similar to the images presented in the book. The term "Harvester of Sadness" has been used to refer to the Grim Reaper, but in this case it is especially appropriate because the Holodomor was a mass starvation due to government destruction and takeover of farming: the communist farm "Collectivization" program, in which soldiers invaded peasant villages, beat and killed people or sent them to be worked to death in concentration camps, destroyed their crops and executed anybody who stockpiled food or tried to replant. Holodomor means "death by hunger". The collectivization was presented to the public as sowing the seeds of a better world through more efficient central farms, but the reality was the destruction of the Ukraine.
- "Harvester of Sorrow" was first performed live on May 23, 1988, in Los Angeles, CA.
- As of the beginning of 2012, "Harvester of Sorrow" has been played live 714 times.
My life suffocates Planting seeds of hate I've loved, turned to hate Trapped far beyond my fate I give, you take This life that I forsake Been cheated of my youth You turned this lie to truth Anger Misery You'll suffer unto me Harvester of sorrow Language of the mad Harvester of sorrow Pure black looking clear My work is done soon here Try getting back to me Get back which used to be Drink up Shoot in Let the beatings begin Distributor of pain Your loss becomes my gain Anger Misery You'll suffer unto me Harvester of sorrow Language of the mad Harvester of sorrow All have said their prayers Invade their nightmares To see into my eyes You'll find where murder lies Infanticide Harvester of sorrow Language of the mad Harvester of sorrow Language of the mad Harvester of sorrow