Welcome to the newest feature here at Metal Army America, one we’re really excited about! Two of our esteemed writers will tackle a controversial subject in metal and debate each side of an argument. Each topic will be examined like an experiment, analyzed philosophically and pontificated on like …..like a pontiff! (Editor’s note: bad pun intended, sorry.) Well, maybe if that pontiff was Papa Emeritus of GHOST! A thoughtful debate between Metal Army America writers on topics concern metal music, its culture and the fans is what we are aiming for. These debates won’t always be as simple as pro versus con since issues like these are rarely cut and dry. Our hope is you will read these blogs and join in the conversation (respectfully, always) with us here in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
And…. here….. we….. go!
RELIGION AND METAL:
Keith (Keefy) Chachkes: I have always been fascinated with the role religion plays in music, specifically metal. BLACK SABBATH was really the first band I learned of as a child who exploited people’s fears of religion in their music. This was pretty potent to the listener when their use of the tri-tone (“The Devil’s note”) was heard in their first recorded notes ever, gave birth to metal. They had songs about Witchcraft and Satanism, while constantly warning against the false righteousness of the other side. Original black metal bands like VENOM and CELTIC FROST were outwardly evil sounding and promoted The Devil as the enemy of normal society, and the prowess of the occult over anything else. This has influenced everything that has happened in heavy music in the last thirty years.
American bands like EXODUS, SLAYER and POSSESED were the next generation bands to reference it heavily, often pitting Christianity against metal as a whole. Most of the old-school death metal bands, when they weren’t fixated on gore, were quite blasphemous (hats off to you DEATH & GLEN BENTON!). Being anti-religion of any kind is enough to get you censored and threatened with jail in most societies, just ask NERGAL of Behemoth or the guys from WATAIN. From church burning Norwegian bands in the 1990′s to modern Neo-folk/Pagan Metal, your favorite Norse/Viking metal bands, modern black and death metal bands and even the recent “occult rock” bands all use religion to attract fans, draw endless topics for songs and define themselves.
With all the energy spent on hating Jude-Christian values, there is a flip side rarely talked about by fans. If religions didn’t exist, what would they be angry at? I’m sure there would still be plenty of shitty things in the world to sing about if there were no religion. Personally, I can enjoy the music of bands like THE CHARIOT, FOR TODAY, and MY CHILDREN MY BRIDE who use their music as a platform to promote their beliefs, even if I find the on stage preaching distasteful. They certainly have a right to do it, as does NILE to talk about ancient Sumerian beliefs, as does CHTHONIC does to discuss their historic religious culture in a modern political context. It’s all good to me and makes a more interesting world of heavy music to listen to and write about.
Dave Williams: Since being handed this assignment, I’ve been struggling somewhat with my potential approach. For those who know me only superficially, my position should seem obvious. My feelings on religion (Christianity in general) are quite public, and I play in a band that exists solely to question/attack the theistic masses.
That said, there is the part of me that very strongly believes that music’s true purpose (particularly in the case of metal, hardcore, punk, and any other ‘rebel’ music) is the unbridled expression of our passions, regardless of what those might be. As members of these subcultures, we have always been beacons for free speech, and to draw lines as to who should be allowed to say what seems rather hypocritical…
However, then there is my true stance on this matter: Metal (and again, hardcore/punk/etc) was born as a reactionary position against the purveying herd mentality of the Western hemisphere (and has obviously expanded its scope quite significantly since), and part of that mentality, undeniably, is the pox upon our species that is Christianity. For eons, the befuddled masses have commandeered and swept countless cultures and histories under the proverbial rug, and the co-opting of rebel music as a form of ‘praise’ is simply another example of the slow, steady trampling of the world’s beauty beneath the lumbering feet of a billion filthy, bleating sheep.
(I should mention that my feelings on the presence of other ‘religions’ within the genre are not quite as strong. Granted, this is inevitably somewhat personal as Christianity simply hits closer to home, but as I attribute nearly all of the modern world’s ills to the spread of the Christian disease, any counterpoint is at least slightly welcome)
To melodramatically drive my point home, I leave you with this: To me, metal is the Cerberus-guarded gates that separate true humanity from celestial, dead-eyed lunatics. Metal is the fucking nails that bind their fictional savior to the planks that adorn a billion fools’ walls the world over. Simply put, metal is a pure expression of freedom (in an entirely non-patriotic, non-nationalist sense), and spiritual surrender is its fundamental opposition. Follow Metal Army contributor Dave Williams at: his website and on Twitter.
What’s your opinion? We’d like to know!