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Is all metal “Christian metal”?

by Brett Stevens
February 24, 2013 –

god_listens_to_slayer

Around and around again the argument goes. Some people advocate for Christian “metal,” and others like myself find something wrong with it. It’s like school-approved metal or eat-your-vegetables metal.

It just feels wrong. We need one genre devoted to doing something other than what the herd does. The herd, it seems, is cool with anything as long as it enforces the principle that we need them.

That need is based on the guarantee that each person is important. If everyone agrees, see, then we’re all protected and can do whatever we want. But the price is that you have to tolerate the delusions of others.

However, metal seems built on the opposite principle. In the world of metal, epic wars sweep away all these bright and promising individuals. Truth is more important than what people think. The present tense is lesser than the past.

And so the drama goes around again. All the brave individualists say that Christian “metal” is OK and should be accepted; the rest of us wrinkle lips and think there’s just something not right with that.

One Christian writer advances a reason why the distinction might not be so important, but by approaching the question from the other angle — is any metal not Christian?

Even the most banal, goat-sacrificing, wannabe Satanic metal participates in the Christian reality by stringing three notes together and calling it a melody. Their songs contain order, and order is the province of God. Their songs contain harmony — however overdriven — and thus amount to pitiful attempts at Beauty, and Beauty is God. Sure, these bands intentionally miss the mark, miss the point, preach vice, fall short of writing anything good enough to last, and waste time indulging the petty, Dionysian emotions, but even their failure is Christian. Failure to be Good, True and Beautiful, can only exist in reference to the Good, True and Beautiful. If their music is bad, it is bad because it fails to be good, and thus in its very badness it gives testimony to that-which-it-fails-to-be, namely Good, who is God. Purely evil music would not be music, because evil is Nothing. If Satanic musicians really wanted to defy God, they’d let their amps exude white noise for an hour and call it a concert. – “5 Reasons to Kill Christian Music,” by Marc Barnes, Patheos

Barnes writes eloquently for reasons to not have Christian music at all, namely that it reduces Christianity to a flavor of the same mainstream junk everyone else is listening to.

He makes a point, since this is probably the same reason metal does not want to be Christian, but from the other direction. Metal needs to be metal. It should not be “flavored” by anything else.

It’s also pathetic to pander to special interest groups. What’s next, homeschooler metal? Vegan metal? BBQ metal? Swinger metal? Please leave your freaky needs at the door and just be metal.

In fact, this is part of what makes metal great. It is a devotional experience of its own. You go to shows, join in a great swirling pit, be united by intense music, affirm reality, and then go home where your parents, friends, neighbors and coworkers can yell at you for not using the blue covers on your TPS reports.

For metal to be what it is, or in Barnes’ words to be an affirmation of “the good, the beautiful and the true,” it needs to be its lawless, amoral and occult self. That’s what metal should be, and without it, metal fails to live up to its role in the drama.

Much like John Milton wrote lovingly of Satan in Paradise Lost, or Romantic poets praised the Pagan gods, or even William Blake revealed a demonology beneath everyday life, writing about the darkness is essential for both darkness and light to know themselves.

And as the ancient Greeks would say, “gnōthi seauton” or “know thyself” is the root of all knowledge. Including that which wears bullet belts, hails Satan and raises the (inverted) cross in blasphemy.

16 comments

  • zazen666

    From my experience, Zen Buddhism might work as a more appropriate influence on the spirit of death or black metal. Knowing and mastering the self is essential, but Zen takes the next logical step – form a community of people dedicated to exterminating the self!

    Reply
    1. Metal Command

      This is the kind of extermination I can support. Exterminate the self! Except that in most ways, it’s not that easy. A healthy self is necessary, where an exterminated self may be too empty.

      Reply
  • federico7979

    Christianity was against the tones of evil, is against knowledge, is against mind evolution. Metal-heads claim to be against those values related to Christianity or religion itself, so the question is why the fuck they allow bands like Mortification and Incubus to exist?
    Metal heads are guilty cause they buy those records, supporting indirectly the church investment.
    I find ignorant those christian people who develop metal in that way. They want to build the roots of their religion. Poor minds. Unbelievable. We cannot even feel pity for them. They are already lost. But those who but their records are not so different.

    Reply
    1. Metal Command

      It’s unclear why doom metal gets a pass, but perhaps it’s because it has already given itself over to self-pity. It might as well have Jesus, metrosexuality, marijuana and an iPad to help it through.

      Reply
      1. Tralf

        Were you raised Christian? Your overcompensatory knee-jerk reaction seems to imply you only just stopped offering your butthole to Jesus last month.

        Could it be that, in its uncorrupted form, Christianity is …*gasp*… metal? Think about it: Abandonment of the ego for selfless pursuits in the name of God AKA Ultimate Reality? Check. Epic and cryptic mythology? Check. Conquered most of the world? Check. Please, next time you want to make a cheap, generic ANUS joke, think it through.

        Reply
        1. Metal Command

          I was raised by atheist liberals. Any more guesses for me? If you guess I’m a homo, make sure you send a picture of your junk just in case.

          Is Christianity metal? Fuck, no… well, at least, there’s several Christianities. There’s old Testament Christianity, which is NSBM if you reverse the races. There’s the Christianity that insists on a rigorous interpretation of its scripture, and is militant. Then there’s the nu-Jesus model, in which we should love everyone and bend over for them (I’m all sweaty just thinking about it! Fuck my asshole until I explode!). Everyone is equal. There is one truth. All you gotta do is swear by zombie Jesus.

          So I gotta say, I think the metal part is older than Christianity. It’s the pagan part of Christianity. It’s the violent, intolerance, realist, mythic and mystical part that modern Christians fear. No, we can’t all get along. Many need to be murdered for our bloodthirsty God. That part of religion I can always appreciate.

          Reply
  • Metal Command

    All music is in praise of existence.

    To a Christian, that makes it Christian music, I guess.

    But the ugly fact is that without negativity there is no positivity. You can’t have Christ without Satan.

    At that point, it pretty much doesn’t matter which one you pick. Just think of its role in the whole.

    Hail Satan!

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Medieval morality plays had both demons and angels in their cast, and both were allowed to make their case.

      Contemporary Christian art speaks only of angels, and wimpy ones at that. It could certainly use a little more Satan in its script.

      Reply
  • Ben

    I remember listening to Havohej’s Dethrone the Son of God. At some point it felt so obsessed with christianity, that it turned inwards on itself and actually became christian. “They all talk about humping jesus and stuff”. Well, sometimes you can hump jesus so much you catch christianity from him.
    By going head to head against christianity, its morality and mythos, some metal bands actually affirm them. It’s one thing to say something sounds like a load of hogwash, and another to obsessivly delve into it. Yes, we get it, the king of jews is dead, but the answer to “you want to hear about jesus christ” should not be “I masturbate on the corpse of your god” but “who?”.
    How can christianity be denied by accepting its judgement of right and wrong, embracing all which it deems evil? If there was one good thing in it, it wouldn’t be adopted because it’s christian? By being the antichrist you play into christian hands. Better to just be a heathen and profess that which you find good, regardless of christianity. You have to offer an alternative, not just attack that which is rotten.

    Reply
  • burton

    I played in a death/doom band paramaecium for a few years during their second album. We were not a as we put it “a christian band” but a band with guys who were Christians in a band. And though we had lyrics relating to what we believe it was in the interest of the music ,death/doom, and not a platform to insult the people who we hoped might enjoy our music. I think this translated to our opportunities to play shows with bands like cruciform, damaged, pogrim etc. Being signed to witchhunt records and rearly being singled out for what the band members believed in. I think it is an understanding and respect and a love of extreme music that can be the difference between part of a scene and apart of a scene. Bring on the new bloodbath album.

    Reply

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