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WARNING: I am trying to approach this subject with a much tact and understanding as I can, but I know opinions on Christian metal are very much divided. Everyone has a strong feeling one way or the other. If you want to comment, please remember to keep your comments pleasant, and refute points, not people.

metal-at-york-minster

At York Minster

Before I begin, I have to confess my own religious feelings, so you understand my opinion on Christian Metal. As a child I attended a Catholic primary school, and, unlike most metalheads I know, I must admit I enjoyed attending church.

We went to an old-school Catholic church, with high gothic arches and stained-glass windows. I loved the chanting and ritual and breaking of the bread – it was all so esoteric and occult. I read a lot of books about magic and witches and spooky happenings, and the church seemed to epitomize all that freaky stuff I loved.

But, most importantly, we had the kindest, most gentle priest – Father Cook – who would read passages from the bible and encourage the congregation to discuss them, offer their own ideas and interpretations. He encouraged people not to just read the bible, but to engage with it as a historical and spiritual document. He was also one of those rare, truly good men. Whenever I hear people rubbish the Catholic church, I remember him and feel like I should defend it.

As a teen, I started to make friends with many Christians, and I even spent a short period of time trying to “be” one. They were one of the vew groups who sort of tolerated me hanging around. My first best friend and my first boyfriend hung with this group (although my boyfriend was not Christian, he was weird enough that, like me, they were one of the only groups who liked him).

I spent much time in high school trying to fit in to various groups, the Christians being one of the more accepting. But I’m not a Christian, any more than I was a punk or a goth or a wiccan. I have some deeply held beliefs about gods and the nature of the universe, but I don’t want to discuss them here. Suffice it to say that I realized by the time I was about seventeen that I didn’t really want to subscribe to any specific religious order.

I still have many Christian friends – although they’re outnumbered by metalheads now – but although we disagree on religion, we share many other things in common.

I first came across Christian Metal in high school, when I started hanging around Christians in a big way. I was also heavily into metal at this time, and after my sister downloaded Kazaa onto our family computer, I was deseperately downloading every metal song I could find.

One of the local churches attended by many of my friends used to run a youth group every Friday night, and I would go on occasion. Some of the boys spotted my Metallica shirt and launched into a discussion about music. They said they liked metal too and started naming all these bands I’d never heard of, and at that stage I knew quite a lot about metal. My relationship with Christian metal had begun.

I looked up all the bands I could remember when I got home, and found them all terrible – the same nu metal drivel they played on the radio, but with happy-go-lucky lyrics about being saved. This wasn’t real metal. I remained unimpressed.

My second boyfriend (during my first years at uni) was a Christian, and I spent some time in his church, although I stopped going quickly because I disliked the more modern, evangelistic style and some of it’s biblical interpretations. I was studying Ancient Greek at the time and would love to have had a discussion about some of the bible text, the way my old Catholic priest encouraged, but this didn’t seem to be the done thing. I also disliked the silly, deliberately “modern” alternative rock music and the 40 minute lectures.

My then-boyfriend and some of his friends listened to a few Christian metal bands, and Christian hard-rock bands. He introduced me to Mortification, who remain to this day my only known example of an actual decent Christian metal band. As I got more deeply involved in metal culture, I met more and more Christians anxious to “bring me back” with suggestions of Christian metal. And I’ll give any band a chance, but none of it has ever impressed me.

Christian metal is also talked about on metal forums, which I used to frequent. Opinion divides between two camps: Christians who are metalheads, or metalheads who identify as Christians, who like Christian metal, and metalheads who are strongly against any kind of Christian metal. Their reasons are threefold:

1. Metal is the music of rebellion. Metal music primarily comes from young, middle class white males in predominantly Christian cultures. Metal speaks for generations of kids who don’t want to blindly conform to “Christian” ideals forced upon them by parents and schools. Many of these metalheads have dealt with extreme cases of prejudice and abuse in the name of metal. The idea of Christianity – whom they consider their enemy – corrupting something they hold dear sickens them. They consider it usurpation of their culture for the purpose of brainwashing people. They call it cultural misappropriation, and I can’t say I blame them.

(I’m not saying Christian ideals are bad, just that people want to be able to make up their own minds about whether they’re right for them or not.)

2. Metal deals with two main subsets of lyrical themes: larger-than-life, epic, fantasy type-themes (like slaying dragons, “fighting” for metal and shagging your way across barbarian Europe), and intense human emotions (fear, anger, pain, regret, hatred, rage).

Christian metal rarely falls into the first subset, as these “epic” themes tend to come from metal’s love of heathen, “barbarian” history and mythology, which they’re routinely tried to eradicate from the course of history. So Christian metal usually attempts to fall into the second category, but falls short because, in acknowledging a higher power, a person tends to deny their own power to influence their own future. Metal needs power – the power to stand up for what you believe in, the power to turn it up to eleven. Songs about relinquishing power just don’t appeal.

3. The majority of Christian metal just plain isn’t any good. This prejudices metalheads against it, because if you say you like Christian metal they are going to assume you have terrible taste in music (and they’re probably right ☺).

Promoting a religion, at its core, includes the practice of discriminating against other religions. This is as true for songs promoting Satanism, bhuddism, deism, or Antidisestablishmentarianism. The very nature of embracing a religion involves the denial of the others. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing – it’s certainly a very unique thing. And it’s not unique to religion, either. Does not embracing the metalhead subculture involve the shunning of emo?

Stryper

Stryper - you'll be learning about them tomorrow :)

I noticed when I used to attend youth group and the church with my old boyfriend, there was a real fad of using youth culture to “convert” youth. I didn’t want to go and tell people about the bible, because I had been given no opportunity to fully understand it myself. I hadn’t been given any opportunity to “study” it in any kind of depth. Sure, there was lots of role-playing and group work, but it approached the bible from a “we already know the answers” point of view. I remember attending a bible-study meeting one night and I sparked a huge debate because I had a differing opinion on the text than everyone else. My opinion was essentially invalidated because I hadn’t been studying the bible since I was seven, like the others. I never went back.

Some might argue that metal has its own culture of conversion. We have hundeds of songs praising the glory of metal and essentially arguing why metal is the best form of music. But these songs aren’t written to bring more people to metal – they’re written for the people already here, to celebrate this wonderful world we’ve created. They are the metalhead equivalent of “worship” songs. They’re for us, not for the potential acolytes. No one’s going to listen to “Kings of Metal” and suddenly say “that’s it! I am now a metalhead.”

Essentially, “White Metal” is a marketing ploy, designed to repackage Christianity with distortion depals and double bass and growly vocals to make it palatable for metalheads. But as a marketing tactic, it’s ill-conceived and poorly executed – metalheads are sticklers for authenticity – they want to feel insense human emotion, they want music to give them power, not take it away. Promoting Christianity in a metal song ultimately alienates the majority of people who might be potentially interested in the song. Metalheads are put off by the Christianity, Christians by the metal. “White Metal” targets the wrong audience.

If you stop to look, metal actually has a long history of utilizing Christian themes and myths. Listen to Black Sabbath’s “After Forever”? I’ve heard songs like that sung in church. Old Testament bible stories inspire hundreds of metal songs.

After all, a large part of traditional metal (and I include power metal here, too) is about larger-than-life, epic stories. Musicians draw on various mythologies, including those they learned about in their youth. Most of these songs approach these myths as just that, myths which create inspiration of epic soundscapes.

So is it only okey to sing about Christianity in metal if you DON’T believe it?

Much of metal – and I’m talking extreme metal here – is about raw emotions, the dangerous ones lurking beneath the surface. Christians feel pain and hatred and anger and fear too. I bet lots of our favorite metal songs are actually written by people who consider themselves Christians (but don’t wish this to be overt), as well as many other religions. Once you get past all the silliness, emotions are universal. Saying to someone “Don’t write metal songs because you’re a Christian, and you don’t belong” is about as un-metal as you can get. Anyone belongs in metal, that’s the point.

I do believe, and I say this whenever I review a band, that when one listens to music, you should take do what you can to discard it from its context, and simply attempt to enjoy and analyse it for what it is. I know this is a contentious point, as my love for Burzum (the music, not the man) has shown. Some would argue separating context and text are impossible, and they’re probably right, but I think you should try. Tomorrow, I’ll be attempting just this, but conducting a no-hold’s barred review of five Christian metal albums in my collection.

Modern Christian youth culture has its own share of cliques and subcultures. I wonder what it is like to be in an overt Christian metal band nowadays. I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me stories of Mortification back in the day, when fights would break out at their concerts between Christians and non-christians. I certainly don’t see that nowadays – metalheads tend to keep their negative opinions for online forums and Facebook flames, and the concert scene is better for it.

Or is white metal not actually for metalheads at all? I certainly don’t hear of white metal bands on metal radio, or discussed on metal blogs or forums (except derisively). Is it that White Metal actually caters for Christians who want more extreme music that fits into their worldview. Is it metal for people who want blastbeats without satan?

With the rise of local metal scence throughout the more, more diverse cultures and religions are redefining metal’s themes and finding new meaning in extreme music. I remember the musicians from the Indian band Kryptos, in Global metal, explaining how one of their band members was hindu, one Christian and one muslin, but this didn’t matter. “The music unites us.” I think that’s the wisest comment yet.

With authenticity, comes solidarity. I ultimately believe metal is a force for good in the world. Metal unites people and gives them a positive force in their lives, whatever their social, political, cultural or religious leanings. Any metal band, Christian or otherwise, who attempt to use metal to promote one viewpoint to the denial of all others, won’t find much favor here.

What say you, readers? How has your relationship with Christianity – or another religion, political or cultural group – impacted your opinion on “White Metal”? Who do you think is ACTUALLY the audience for white metal?

If anyone can recommend any GOOD Christian metal bands, please list them below (My metal mixtape is looking a little sparse). If not, tell me your favourite songs using Christian mythology or your favorite bands with Christian members.

Super Snuggles and Shoggoth Kisses


26 Comments »

  1. cory says:

    enjoyed the entire post, on this subject,although i do have one thing to say: suffice to say i agree with you there are some white-metal bands that are just simply terribly (not going to name names), but have you checked out for today,the ghost inside,august burns red,underoath,or B rod?

  2. Nicholas says:

    Very good article. I’m not really into most forms of metal myself, but I can understand other people liking it. There’s a lot of different views regarding music in the Christian sphere. I have friends who think metal is a spawn of the devil, for instance.

    I do think that Christianity can be worked into any form of music that is itself good. From your description, Christian metal doesn’t seem to, overall live up to that. But really at its heart Christianity (or at least the form that I hold) has the emotions of rebellion and the like; Christians must be, by their very creed, rebellious against most every culture, from the corrupted Church in the medieval times it inherently contra-Christian cultures from the start of time to our modern day. Christianity in a pure form has a lot of themes that could easily fit into objection 1. Really, to be a Christian now is to rebel against the materialistic principles and ideals taught to most people today. Rebellion right there.

    Off topic, and joking, but this choice of words almost made me laugh:

    “Suffice it to say that I realized by the time I was about seventeen that I didn’t really want to subscribe to any specific religious order.”

    I thought for a split second that your were referring to, well religious orders. You know, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, etc. etc. :P

    • steff steff says:

      @Nicholas – thanks for another insightful comment on this topic, which always generates a lot of discussion! You make a very good point about Christianity being a form of rebellion – I don’t think that’s true in all cases (for example, many people grow up within a Christian family in a Christian community, so it’s not really rebellion), but choosing anything that goes against what the majority of people are doing takes some serious bravery. I admired a lot of the outwardly Christian people at my school because they had that fire in their hearts and they were bravely declaring their rebellion.

      And, that choice of words was in part deliberate :) I’m quite fascinated with different religious orders.

  3. A Metalhead says:

    I read the entire entry, and I have to say that you did a very good job of writing it in a factual matter that was not prejudiced or opinionated.

    What is metal? I think each individual uses the art differently, and I can only speak for myself here.

    My favorite bands are As I lay Dying, (mainstream/Christian,) Morphia, and Virgin Black. The latter two do not classify themselves as Christian bands per se but their lyrical and musical themes are very much in line with Christianity.

    Listening to their music has helped me cope with struggles and find healing in life. I can relate to the music on many levels, and God (God meaning the larger in life, creative and loving Force that keeps this world in existence whom humans recognize and address by many names) speaks to me through the art of metal music.

    I am also a stickler for musical depth. I agree with you in your disdain for insipid and uninspiring music. Most metal bands produce standard, run of the mill music. It’s not just the christian bands, but a lot of christian bands fall into it. I get wanting to share a message through music, but the music has to be quality or the only people who will follow are those who want to hear the message not those who want to hear the music. And that kinda defeats the purpose.

    You make a very good point when you say that metal taps into two things; the folklore aspect and the powerful emotions. Many christian metal bands don’t do this, and what you have to say makes a lot of sense. However I couldn’t say that christian metal is incapable of meeting this criteria; they just don’t try to do so. Which is unfortunate. There is a ton of lore in the old testament; that’s an excellent point. Yet no metal songs about it. Some of my favorite psalms are the ones about feeling at the bottom of the pit, feeling cast off, abandoned. I get the whole rejoice for God is with us thing, but sadly most of christianity doesn’t face suffering. As a Catholic, I feel that Catholic christianity is more in touch with the historical and emotional struggles sung in metal songs and not just a “Jesus saved me, i’m so happy, la la la.” It’s more a ‘there is joy despite the suffering.” My Catholic friends at least understand suffering more, but even some of them are concerned because I “dwell on the bad” too much. I prefer to be honest with the reality, admit that it is so, and cope with it rather than deny it. Metal songs relate to this a lot better than cheesy pop songs. I think that it is possible to sing about power and be christian, is it not all about unity with the higher power? I feel relinquishing isn’t the word I use because it’s more like being in power together in unity.

    There is actually a growing movement of Catholic metal; hopefully it will better encompass true metal elements than the majority of christian metal out there. I cannot promise that it be good quality music because these are still low budget bands using inferior equipment, but if you want to check them out, “cradle Catholic” is unique in its blending spoken latin words with a metal background, and “vengeance” by seven sorrows is probably one of my favorite songs. There are also some compilation CDs, Praising Him Loudly and Via Crucis being the first two released.

    And yes, I love old gothic churches, and the Mass is so in line with metal. I wish more religious leaders were like Fr. Cook. I do attend a bible study where we will read a passage of scripture and discuss it… no preset agendas of what one person decides it means but what is it actually saying, what is the historical setting, what is the widely held meaning, and how does the scripture affect or speak to me in both/either a specific sense or a broad sense. If anyone wants to evangelize, they have to have respecting and accepting people where they are at as a primary approach in the hopes that the people will weigh what they have to say and consider it. One can’t force another, that doesn’t do anything good.

    Anyways sorry for being long winded, and thanks again for sharing your experience and how it shaped who you have become in such an elequent way. Everyone has a story, and reading yours has helped me understand your position better.

    • steff steff says:

      @A Metalhead – thank you so much for your response, and I really enjoyed reading your comment. I love that even though we have differening opinions we can have an intelligent discussion about this. To me, it sounds like you’ve definitely got your head on straight. :)

      There are so many wicked stories and lore in the bible and the other texts of the Christian faith, I think that is such an untapped source for metal songs, as often the only people who use that imagery are bands wanting to pervet it with satanism, which I often find to be a bit of a cheap shot. I have always felt the way you feel about Catholicism, even though I don’t identify with it much anymore, I still really enjoy services when I go occasionally – there’s such an element of ritual and mythology about it. I hadn’t thought about the suffering aspect, but I think you’re right about that, too. I found the other churches I went to were too positive, and I like the sombreness of the mass. I probably “dwell in the bad” like you too much too, sometimes. :)

      Also, I’ve been listening to songs by Seven Sorrows on Youtube and I really like them. They need a bit of polish, but there is SO much potential there. They are fantastic songwriters. Thanks for introducing me to a decent Catholic metal band \m/

      I hope you stick around and read some more of the blog, and we get to hear from you again soon!

    • wow, it’s kind of nice to read something that’s way more thoughtful and not so knee-jerk! I grew up with Catholic-turned-evangelical parents who took the whole God thing super-seriously (and I still do believe) but my dad was also big into lots of music that my friends’ parents thought was evil, so I played his guitars and listened to his Sabbath records and such. Some of my friends are bemused by the going out to see a bunch of bands on Saturday night and rolling out of bed early to play guitar at church but I don’t see too much of a conflict between the two.

      My coworker and I talk about this kind of thing, both being former RCs and still loving spooky old churches and medieval chant. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like there’s so many awesome untapped stories that could be explored (I’m taking a class right now on Middle Ages religion and learning about relics and stuff). He also introduced me to the doomtasticness of Trouble which hits both the spiritual and musical sweet spot for me.

      also, love what you’re doing here!

  4. Adam says:

    Hello.

    Interesting read! I understand that many Christian metal bands are pretty terrible, and you seem honest and open, and this is probably a bit cheeky of me, but you asked for people to recommend any good Christian metal bands. Well, this band is virtually unknown….actually I’m in it, haha, sorry for the shameless promotion. I’m in a folk metal band from New Zealand, and the majority of us are Christians. But we’re still a pretty diverse range of people with a broad range of views. We all mamnage to get along though – we’re all metalheads! Anyway, after reading your article, I’m just interested to see about what you think of the direction we are trying to head in.

    Although we most certainly and proudly do express our Christianity in some of our songs, we haven’t really managed to stick to any particular subject area (Christianity, European history, fantasy literature, folklore, even comedy). Not a bad thing, I guess. We’ve only recored a small number of our repitoire, and the recordings are demos and not great quality (though I have heard much worse, hahaha). Have a listen to our stuff if you like, on the website above or on our Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Ironsteinband

    Thanks!

  5. Mike says:

    Hi,

    I found your report and the comments interesting. I don’t meant to scare you but I am an evangelical christian, but not a fundamentalist christisn. I am more moderate to conserative. Various religions and philospphies you mentioned are the source of themes in metal music. I personally feel in the “universe” or “God’s creation” there is absolute truth that can only be found in Jesus and God’s Word. Many don’t believe in this and I don’t wish to convince or prove this here. As a result many of this is reflected in a christian’s life style and in many christian bands.

    Now I have to admit that in church history and in the 40 year history of those involved christian rock and metal intustry some “christians” have not done a good gob in representing christianity. However,there are others that have done an excellent job.

    Also, there are some cbhirstian bands that don’t impress me and these are others that do. The same can be said of secular band s too. To me all styles of music has some degree of cheesiness. For example, I like some hair metal and glam bands and others make me want to puke in a bucket.

    There is one topic thart was touched on by one of the comments little here. There are bands that have both christian and non christina members. Or artists that the main member(s) are christins who may collaborate or hire nonchristisn to play an instrument or help write a melody. I have respect for these bands. Example: Joshua Perahia who is a christian hired Scott Warren formerly of Dio to play keys on his new album Resurrection. Impellitteri named after guitar shredder Chris Impellitteri has Rob Rock, sho is a christian, write most of the lyrics.

    The we all heard of conversions to christianity of musicians like Blackie Lawless of WASP and Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson of Megadeth. Dave Ellefson is studying to be a pastor.

    Heavy Metal is the music of rebellion but it depends on what you are rebelling against. Christianity and the Bible speaks about not conform to the ways of thsi world, transforming and the renewing of your mind, etc. To some this is rebellion and is a common theme in many christian metal songs. Many christian metal songs spaek of Revelartions where Satan is ultimately defeated.

    A bit of information on the Black Sabbath song After Forever. THis sing has bene covered by them christian speed/thrash/intustrial/alternative band Deliverance. I read somewhere that I think it was Bill Ward aho came up with the idea for the song. I think Bill was going to be a catholic priest and started to study this before he joined Sabbath. When Sabbath released the song they got a lot of critisism by fans and their managers on this song. Perhaps someone can confirm this. I think this song has an interesting history.

    Anyway, Thats my thoughts.

  6. James says:

    Interesting post Steff. I myself am very much a Christian and personally I just cannot get into most black metal bands because it openly goes “against the grain” of the feelings in my heart. However, when it comes to styles like Melodic Death that focus more of everyday emotions, situations, and gives an introspective look at it, I can relate to that totally because just like everyone, I go through pain, emotion, enlightment, and sadness. Negative themed songs can be positive if you identify with them and I think there’s a big difference between negative/dark themes and actual “evil” music that seeks to promote a negative outlook. DayLight Dies is an excellent example of a band I can really empathize with as a person, their melacholy gloomy music still leaves room for hope, but acceptance that life is a lonely road.

    Nowdays, what you are finding more often are Christians in metal bands, not so much Christian metal. The “view” comes from a Christian perspective but deals with a variety of topics. Honestly, unless you look “deeply” into the lyrical meanings, you might not even catch on that some bands have Christian members. As I lay Dying is a great example of this, though their Melodic Death and Thrash meets metalcore is kind of an aquired taste. A genuinely good Christian band is Extol, and they are generally well accepted among most metalheads as being “authentic”. Their early music is more blackened death and a bit tough to get into as its quite chaotic on the timing (and extreme). Their newer stuff “the blue print dives” is particularly heavy, but it has a distinictive sound…..its not a copy of every other band out there, despite having a cleaner lighter more “progressive” sound.

  7. Lachy says:

    I love Metal and I love Jesus. I don’t think Christianity and Heavy Metal are exclusive in the slightest. I listen to a lot of Christian Metal and I listen to a lot of Non-Christian Metal as well and I feel like the target audience for the former is primarily Christians who want to listen to heavy music.
    The other point I want to make is about Metal being the music of rebellion. While yes it is true that a lot of people identify themselves as Christians to conform to the social norm, actually trying to live your life for Jesus and proactively practising the Christian faith is a complete rebellion from society’s generally selfish and consumer driven attitudes. One of my favourite quotes is from Alice Cooper and he said “Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s rebellion.” Check this out http://www.godscare.net/witness/alice_cooper.htm
    Moving on from that, some of my favourite Christian Metal bands are HB; Theocracy; Demon Hunter; Living Sacrifice; and Oh, Sleeper |m|,

    • steff steff says:

      @Lachy – thanks for an awesome comment. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there – that embracing christianity can be just a big a risk, just a big a rebellion as some of the things other metalheads go through. So thanks for reminding us of that.

      I guess a lot of a person’s views on Christianity – from inside the faith or outside it – come from their own personal experience of it. I think it’s hard for the metal community in general to feel an affinity for Christian Metal because of the church’s long-standing dislike of us. I think metalheads from other religions – Islam, Hinduism, etc – deal with the same issues, which is quite interesting. One could certainly make a lot of biblical arguments for NOT listening to metal, I guess (having heard quite a few, myself :)) but then, one can make a biblical argument about doing practically anything, so in the end, you’ve just got to let your heart tell you what you believe is right. \m/

  8. Jeremy says:

    As a devout, practicing Catholic and a metalhead I would like to say that Christianity and metal are not exclusive. I will listen to non-christian metal more often than christian metal but mostly because I am not familiar with any christian metal. Except for Deuteronomium, who are pretty good. That being said I don’t like most black metal. Sometime I feel their lyrics are too pointed at something important to me but usually it has more to do with the fact that I prefer the death growls to the shrieks common in Black Metal. I also think it is important to point out that both Mustaine and Ellefson are devout christians which I think solidifies my point that metal and christianity are not exclusive.

  9. Déan says:

    hey,
    i just read your subject and i was wondering what you thought of Skillet.
    they have some slow songs but also have some faster songs, you might like one of the following songs:
    -monster
    -hero
    -comatose
    -awake and a live
    -falling in the black
    -Live Free or Let Me Die

    i hope you like some of them

    • steff steff says:

      @Déan – thanks for reminding me about Skillet. I was going to mention them in one of my posts, but it skipped my mind for some reason. For those of you whov don’t know, Skillet are a relatively popular Christian hard rock/nu metal band. They are quite good. Some of my friends listen to them. They remind me of the band Flaw, except with some female vocals.

      My main problem with Skillet is the same problem I have with all of those types of band – simply that the music is good, but I wish it were harder. More force, more riffs, that the music woul carry the song rather than the vocals.

  10. Frank Tan says:

    I found the discussion on Christian heavy metal refreshing. Incidentally, I just read the first chapter of John Van Sloten’s book “The Day Metallica Came to Church”. It expresses how heavy metal music are sometimes reminiscent of God’s OT prophets. Apparently you don’t have to be Christian to sing heavy metal because the point is whether you sing the truth or not. http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Day-Metallica-Came-to-Church/137368086284103

    • steff steff says:

      @Frank – Glad you liked it! Thanks for that link – I’ve never heard of that book before. I’ve got a few friends who will love this book especially, so thanks!

  11. Euphoria says:

    Finally got time to check back into your blog after a month of being crazy busy.

    When I still identified as traditionally Christian I looked for metal bands… but the same thing happened to me that you ran into. They were all crap.

    I still hold a Christian-esque religion as my own (Gnosticism) and am pretty surprised that there aren’t more metal bands that use esoteric Christianity as a theme. At times Gnostic myths are downright horrible. The Demiurge is a uniquely Gnostic religious character to write angry songs about. Mary Magdalene even gets captured and is sold into prostitution in some myths! I always thought it would be pretty bad ass to have a female fronted black metal band called “the Whore of Babylon” whose songs were about Gnostic myths… but alas I can not sing myself. Someone should do it for me. ;)

  12. Rob says:

    I always find it kind of interesting how metalheads who can listen to music praising Odin and Thor have such a adverse reaction to metal that praises the christian God. Unless your a follower of Asatru, neither Odin or Jesus Christ should be anything more then fiction. I guess it has to do, somewhat, with the belief that all Christian metal is somehow praise music. There seems to be a misconception among many of my fellow metalheads that somehow Chrisitan metal is all sunshine and rainbows, but anyone whose given it more then a passing glance knows thats not entirely true. Some of the better bands tap into some of the darker aspects of the Bible (war, sorrow, retribution) to try and get that vibe necessary for extreme metal.

    I have yet to find a Christian metal band that equals anything as good as a band like Dismember or Immortal, but a few that I would classify as decent are: Antestor, Admonish, Deuteronomium, and Feast Eternal

    • steff steff says:

      @Rob. Thanks for posting. Of the bands you mentioned, I’ve only heard Antestor, and I was really, really disappointed. I think it had to do with the time they were writing – because when they wrote “…Black Death” it as right in the middle of the early black metal scene, when the whole thin was more about the ideaology than the music, and in trying to fit a message of hope and salvation into the black metal style, which is a style of despair, chaos and nihilism, I feel the really lost the plot. I’m listening to a bit of Admonish now, and from what I’ve heard so far, they’re much, much better.

      I think the nature of metal appeals to a kind of “barbarian” outlook on life, which is why many metalheads feel an affinity with the “pagan” gods, even if they don’t outright believe in them or worship them. In doing the research for these articles, I’ve actually found some seriously awesome Christian metal bands I never knew existed, and I’m digging their stuff because they’ve managed to find a way of making the music and their message gel in a cohesive manner. I think there is room in metal for people of every faith to sing about whatever they like, as long as they’re keeping it metal \m/

  13. Justin says:

    I was just watching this interview of Akercocke
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uV42ARrE1w
    and their explanation of what they think is “Satanism” meshes closely with what I believe – atheism with a sense of humor, with Satan as a sort of mock god. Not militantly anti-Christian, just apart from it. I also happen to like really evil-sounding music…the happiest-sounding metal I listen to would probably be some sort of melodic death like the chorus of an Arch Enemy song. Altogether, this makes me quite prejudiced toward all things that are deemed “Christian” to the general public.

    Apart from personal belief, another reason I don’t understand Christian metal is that I just don’t think it fits. Black metal shrieks about the devil’s wrath or death metal growls about bloody retribution are all fine and fitting, but there is no need to yell or growl when the topic is something as good and great as God’s grace or how we should all love each other. The extreme metal sound is dark and sinister by default.

    Sorry, no recommendations! And I don’t pay attention to who’s Christian and who isn’t if it isn’t advertised to me.

    • steff steff says:

      @Justin – nor me, although sometimes knowing a member of a band is of a particular faith can give you interesting insights into their inspiration behind certain songs.

      From listening to a lot of actual, decent Christian metal this week, I think it does fit, although I think the early “unblack” metal bands specifically DON’T work because they were trying to fit an upbeat message of salvation and hope into a style of music that embraces the chaotic darkness. I think nowadays, with black metal being less about ideology, and more about a particular style of music, (and most christian black metal bands simply calling their music “black” rather than trying to make some distinction) it’s a bit more palatable.

  14. MrPolek says:

    Ok, that is a big subjekt.

    First of all:
    The Term “White Metal” or “Christian Metal” (probably as a counterpart to Black Metal oder Satanic Metal) is totally misleading.
    If you look at most real “Anti-Christian” Bands you see that they all use christian Symbols, Mythology and Beliefs. “Satanism” (as once a baptist girl called Metal at Uni) is not outside christian religion but straight in the heart of it.
    One of my fav. examples is Miltons “Paradise Lost”. PL is not anti-christian or something but it includes most ideas shared by “anti-christian” bands.

    Ok, not all metalbands are anti-christian. Lets take a quik look at our highly loved heathen gorups (folk metal). Nordic Mythology allways was a problem for christianity. Historically and i think that catholic churches do not like bands chanting for odin either. But to be honest: Folk Metal bands are met drinking party people hunting for trolls. So they do not harm anybody.

    Now I gonna make an example on the 2 most ebil metalbands in history: Slayer and Black Sabbath.
    Ok, maybe this two bands are the evil core of all shit happening in this world. Or maybe they just use a certain aesthetic concept. The concept of “dark beauty”. This concept was used many times in history. Like Baroque (memento morii) or Expressionism (Kafka?). One of my fav. charakter is based on this concept: Ophelia. Death, Darkness and Beauty allways were somehow conected.
    I mentioned Slayer and Sabbath because of a very ironic fact: To my knowledge both bands are (or were) pretty much christian. Dio (RIP) was raised in a catholic family (italian catholics – hardliners). And Iommi allways wears a cross on this chain.
    Tom Ayara is a catholic, too. In german Wikipedia is a quote from Tom explaining his approch to Slayer and his Faith.

    And what about me. I study philosophy. I don’t have a very benevolent oppinion about christianity. I might cite Nietzsche or Popper but this would be too much.

    An last I want to mention a funny thing: As far as I know Slayer, Maiden and ACDC (like most classic metal/hard rock bands) are prohibitated by the vakitan. But bands like Deathspell Omega, Watain or Behemoth are not probhibitated because they are not known enough! Ironic, isnt it?

    • steff steff says:

      @MrPolek, as usual, thank you for replying with an intelligent and thought-provoking answer. Apart from Classical studies, I’ve never studied philosophy myself, so I tend to approach all these questions from an anthropological point of view.

      I’ve always found Satanism a very interesting worldview, as adherents approach the concept of Satan from completely different angles. It’s true that without Christianity, there would be no “Satan”,, although there have always, and will always, be “forces” and “gods” of darkness and chaos to counteract those of the light and the good.

      When you read Black Sabbath lyrics (like the song After Forever) it’s difficult NOT to see strong Christian undertones. And, they always wore crosses – not inverted, either. Black Sabbath were such an interesting example because they were put on trial for the subliminal messages and such. I remember reading about how they had to stand in court and explain that “Suicide Solution” was actually a pun on alcoholism and not an attempt to get teenagers to kill themselves for Satan.

  15. Kyle says:

    First of all, thank you for the awesomeness! Keep it up.

    My opinion: I’ve always been baffled about the presence of “Christianity” in metal; much like your first point against it, metal is a rebellious form of music. I find metal to be the antithesis of what Christianity has to offer its follows. Metalheads don’t tend to be blind sheep who follow the herd simply because it’s “popular”, that is one of the main reasons I was drawn to the underground. We think for ourselves and disapprove irrational justifications.

    Okay, obviously not every religious person is a blind follower of their chosen faith, nor does every person (religious or metalhead alike) fit neatly into any of these categories. But moreover, these have been my observations when dealing with the aforementioned parties.

    If I may be as so bold, if you’re going to listen to Metal, expand your horizons. If you only listen to Christian metal because it has “Your Message”, you will miss SO MUCH! There are so many good Pagan, Thrash, Power Metal even Hardcore bands that don’t have a Christian message that will rock your socks.

    Stay metal, and Be Happy!

  16. ~Lily says:

    My boyfriend was raised evangelical christian. pentecostal. he wasn’t allowed to listen to nonchristian music. he found christian metal, and loved it. as he grew up and grew out and away from christianity, he obviously was a metalhead so he found nonchristian metal. he was pagan for a while, and now a satanist. he listens to satanic metal, non-religious-specific metal and still listens to his old christian metal. for the music, not the message.

    i’ll get him to comment on this post, to suggest the best white & unblack metal bands for your mixtape ;)
    i know that he likes mortification and horde and stryper ;) and crimson thorn and he LOVES tourniquet – i agree they are very good. also he likes bride and living sacrifice and circle of dust….. and i don’t think he needs to comment anymore because i know those are the best ones that he likes.

    thanks for having such a diverse, interesting blog, all while keeping on the topic of metal. i find we have quite alot of common interests, steff, and so reading your blog makes me happy :)
    ~L

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