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.