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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Some Thoughts on Nature

I enjoy camping. Solitude. Enjoying primitive conditions. Witnessing the power and beauty of nature. It helps one keep a good Hessian frame of mind. I try to go as often as is possible and there is one location near me that I frequent rather often. After a bit of a drive over old logging roads through the hills I stop and pull my car off the side of the road and put on my pack and get my rifle at port arms. To get to my favoured camping area it is a 5 mile hike that for a short while follows an abandoned narrow-gauge railroad that some logging company built to expedite the extraction of resources from the area many years back. The place I like to set up camp is a tiny, elevated clearing in the pine trees next to a small creek from which I can get water. The area is a temperate rain forest of sorts, so there are 3-6 foot tall ferns everywhere, and in old-growth areas that have not fallen prey to logging, you can see the triple-canopy growth that is common to all rain forests. However, most of the forests around have been logged at some point so this sight is rare. I use a small shovel or a machete to clear out the ferns so I have a nice place to build a camp fire and an area to lay out my sleeping bag. The chopped down ferns double as a nice mattress.

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Metal Arsenal: Choice Software for Metal Warfare

Once upon a time, musicians needed to have a fat budget for a decent studio recording (and therefore, a record label to front the bill on the onset).  But even with one, many extreme metal recordings in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s still sounded like complete ass.  Even insanely popular death metal bands like Cryptopsy, who have sold over half a million records, have had albums with production so shitty that I can’t hear most of the riffs.  Aside from a few innovators, most audio engineers (back when it was possible to make a career out of it), simply did not know how to record and produce metal.

However the industry has changed mightily over the last 15 years or so, and in today’s music world the phrase “everybody’s an engineer” is deeply rooted in truth.  Whereas high end recording software was once closely guarded and outrageously priced, the freedom of file sharing as put many high end tools in the hands of the public at no cost and without the need for professional training to use.  No longer do you have to shell out $10,000 for an album that sounds like it was recorded in the prior decade, nor do you need take out a ludicrous college loan for audio engineering school. Instead, all you need to do is make a few quick downloads to successfully arm yourself for a quality recording (assuming, of course, you have done your homework in practicing your instruments and listening).

This change in landscape greatly benefits the type of music personalities we saw in Darkthrone, Burzum, and Graveland- top-tier musicians more concerned with their art and ideology than pandering to a room of idiots via live performances (yes, I know Graveland and Darkthrone both played live: it was only at microfractions of their careers).  And given that lefties are regulating and policing which bands are allowed to play live shows, there’s all the more reason for defiant metal musicians and bands to forgo live performances and focus their energies on quality studio recordings.  With narcissism, attention seeking, and fan expectations removed, the opportunity for quality recordings to flourish is undoubtedly more abundant.

It is an honor and privilege to present to you, the readers of this infamous site, the favorite battle-tested software and tools from a road-tested veteran who began a career in metal when freeware first became widespread some 15 years ago:

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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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Girding for War: Tools of the Trade

One does not go to war without weapons and one does not make music without instruments. Just as the quality of the warrior is more important than the quality of the weapon, so too, the quality of the musician is more important than the quality of the instrument. Nonetheless, limited equipment can impeach the user’s ability for effective action. With that in mind, let us take a look at Roland’s V-Drums.
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VIKING BLOOD

Heritage, ethnicity, race, and culture is important because there is much you can learn about yourself from your blood ancestors.  For years I never understood why, as an Irishman, I was always fascinated with Scandanavian history and culture until a distant relative traced my family’s heritage all the way back to the 10th century.  It was upon learning of my distant relationship to Tomrair mac Ailchi, the viking king of Dublin, that I learned the truth of my savage tendencies- I was the decadent of vikings.  And perhaps it explains how, thousands of years later, I would serve as an editor of the most brutal metal website on the internet…
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Metal Works: AR-15 Build

A proper Hessian knows his metal music intimately. He understands the moving parts and how they fit together to form a functioning whole. Just as a Hessian understands his music, he will also understand his weapons. What better way to understand our weapons than to build one ourselves? AKs are rather easy to build, but require some more expensive specialized equipment. ARs are also quite easy to build, and because of their ingenious modular design, one can either build a complete AR or one can build half an AR for use with already extant other halves. Because building an AR lower is somewhat more complicated and requires some more expensive equipment, today we will focus on building your own AR upper. You will see from the crappy pictures, taken with my old flip phone, that one needs no specialized facilities to do any of this – I did it in my spare bedroom in about 45 minutes. Recommended listening while building: Immortal’s “Battles in the North.”
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We Merry Few

For the older among us, being in a band was something of a badge of honour; sure, there were more than a few bands around, but not so many that it was still worth comment when people learned you played in one. Musicians were and are not all that common, but music scenes are inherently incestuous and the number of bands expands until nearly every musician is leader of his own that features players from other bands. It was comradely, fractious, fun, and instructive. But in the modern music world the concept of the band is in rapid decline.
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