A Metalhead’s Journey to the Light

By Cullen Toner

Many have expressed emotions of extreme shock and awe after discovering the explicitly Christian lyrics and aesthetics of my newest album, Deus Vult. How could I, the former singer/songwriter of New Jersey’s most popular Satanic band, find God and religion after 15 years of playing in bands with misanthropic, anti-Christian themes? What would cause a complete 180 degree change in lifestyle, a complete about-face in world view? And why would I recklessly proclaim such a change in heart to a world of black and death metal that would so surely respond in confusion, mockery, and utter malice?

To even consider the answers requires a great deal of courage and intellect, as most in the world of extreme metal have extensively conditioned themselves to the idea that metal, in all of its rebelliousness, is the antithesis to Christianity. But since the spirit of metal is one that has historically challenged authority and convention in a quest for deeper truth, those who truly understand its foundation will not cower from the mere suggestion of radical thought. And to those to I can assure that a long quest for logic and wisdom has unexpectedly led me at the foot of the upright cross. Not only did this provide happiness and fulfillment for the first time, but the foundation for meaning and purpose that many metalheads are currently in a vast search for.

In an attempt to explain as objectively as I can, this is how I came to embrace Christianity as my faith, and what it meant for my relationship with metal music.

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Polarized Metal Genres Must Unite Against The Funderground

Metal is facing a decisive moment in time. As a genre and an entire sub culture, it’s threatened with a massive flux of outsider interest into what was once an isolated community forged in passion. Metal was a cause for tight bonds among like minded disillusioned youth that wanted nothing to do with the status quo, a lawless free for all where no ideology or point of view was too extreme. Thus grew a voice to rally against the farce of mainstream politics, social acceptability, resolute contentment with mundane lifestyles and herd mentality. Though acts like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were to find great success within the public large, they laid the groundwork for that rebel yell that gave the disgruntled youth the foundations for connecting with others so disconnected. And with such a ground roots movement that metal was, true artists and musicians who may have never have been given an opportunity to rise otherwise were now rising and exponentially so. Quickly NWOBHM became speed metal became death metal became black metal. Then, as with all great explosive cultural movements, metal began losing its traction and sight of its original goals of fighting against the mainstream culture of quantity over quality. But it is now that we see its greatest threat in its acceptance by the masses. Now it is being taken for a boutique exotic exploration into what most really don’t want to explore: cold unforgiving reality.

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Brett Stevens Nihilism: The First Lecture

In Brett Stevens Nihilism, the author introduces an article consisting of a series of twelve lessons which he describes as an awakening to the reality of life.  A tinge of morality seemingly colors the lessons, but upon closer look, the prescriptions given are described in a way that one can see them arising from causal, qualitative observations.

In all this, there is, of course, the singular opinion of the author.  In approaching a discussion and description of said ideas, the latter will be kept in mind, opting to expand, interpret and focus.  Also, in order to respect the integrity of the book wherein these appear, they will not be spelled out either in their titles nor in their original exposition.
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Roots of Evil: The Origins of Metal

With the fiftieth anniversary of metal music around the corner, forthcoming years will witness an increase of publications dealing with the history, legacy and defining characteristics of the genre. This could finally resolve the lack of consensus that still exists regarding the definition and origins of heavy metal.

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Rest In Peace: Mark “Blaash” Michaelson


Clockwise: David Herrera, Mark “Blaash” Michelson, “Jenoside”

Mark “Blaash” Michaelson, known for Where’s My Skin zine and playing drums in Bahimiron, has died. A lively spirit imbued with a fatalistic sense of self-destruction, Michaelson was nonetheless an affirming personality who enjoyed life to the fullest and never let anyone tell him what to do. Our condolences to his family, friends, bandmates and all who were touched by his life.

I met Mark back in the early 2000s when Bahimiron was just starting up and was immediately impressed by his grasp of the spirit of metal. While for him it took a suicidal black metal type of path, he nonetheless understood the more triumphant aspects of metal and affirmed them with vicious but elegant music. He was always a good person to query about the relevance of anything going on in the community.

Celebrate his life through music:

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Watain – Reaping Death (2016)

Article by David Rosales.

I. Where is the music?

It is very rare to find a general fan of black metal today who has not at least heard of the name of Watain. The kind of fame it has attained, however, is the kind that is mostly based on peripheral affairs rather than the art which Watain is supposed to dedicate itself to. Watain is the kind of ‘entity’ (as most of these bands are now given to call themselves) that is surrounded by a nebulous aura which may at first, if one is inclined to be generous in providing the benefit of the doubt, seem like an hint of something truly profound going on. Now, whether that is the case in regards to the real, transcendent or philosophical knowledge or experience of the people behind Watain is not for the writer to say. On the other hand, the music itself does not seem to display any of the more-than-human qualities it should if one is to believe all the hype. In fact, it reveals itself as a very mundane affair when one is given to delve into a holistic examination of the music in itself, and even more so when seen in relation to the extra-musical portions of the ‘entity’.

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This Ain’t No Fantasy: A History Of Punk’s Most Iconic Band, The Misfits

cliff_burton_-_metallica_-_misfits_shirt

Metalheads tend to be wary of punk, recognizing it only for its role as an influence on metal. This attitude obscures the fact that the best of punk is worth exploring on its own terms and merits, starting with perhaps the greatest influence of punk technique and heightened aesthetics in that genre, hardcore punk‘s The Misfits.

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The Difficulties of Folk Metal

Anders_Zorn_-_Hins_Anders_(1904)

Article by Johan P.

I’ve never been overly impressed by the folk metal phenomenon, which emerged in the middle of the 1990s and began to gain popularity some years later. I do not mean to imply that there isn’t any good folk music out there. On the contrary, there’s a lot of rewarding traditional music to discover. Many musicians – metallers included – have realized that their respective countries’ folk music reservoir is a gold mine for potential ideas to integrate into more modern forms of music. It was on these premises that folk metal was born. However, if the source material is to be successfully re-animated and be brought into metal or any other genre, it requires some serious work from the composer and performer. Most folk metal bands fail at this point for a variety of reasons, with the end-result often sounding like bad heavy metal adorned with folk-melodies that have been stripped of all subtlety to fit into a rock-based harmonic and structural environment.

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Sadistic Metal Review: Blliigghhtted – Into the Cunt of the Witch (2016)

into the cunt of the witch

Article by Lance Viggiano.

Into the Cunt of the Witch is grainy fatalistic pap embellished with agonizing atonal voids where music should exist. When the haze clears just enough for a melody to become audible it possesses a character of passivity and reception but is always intensely grating in its pointlessness. The tired corpse of speed metal and heavy metal drags lethargically through chromatic sections that form the locus of this work. Lightly struck syncopated rhythms are relied too heavily upon and flatten into a sterile ticking that results in a pure time keeping effect not unlike a distraught prisoner tallying his cell wall; tracking his sentence until his song merely ends – a fair metaphor for the experience of this record. Individual songs are parts of four whole works and do not stand well on their own; ending abruptly without proper conclusions before jumping into the next section in a greater cycle. Vocals operate in two essential modes: an apathetic crooning within artificial caverns as well as a faux-distraught occult street preacher reminiscent of contemporary orthodox/occult black metal.

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