Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finding The Good in Christian Metal




Let's state the obvious here. The very words Christian Metal together just seems blasphemous. Obviously most people don't associate the two together. But any informed metalhead worth their grit knows that there is such a thing. Metal doesn't only appeal to those who of us attracted to the dark, sinister and demented. Why should your religion limit the type of music that just 'feels right' even if its not associated with all things Christian?  I run across a handful of metal heads who believe that there are no good Christian metal bands. I usually ask why they believe this and the response is that its lame, its not as good, yadda yadda. My response is simply that they are not looking hard enough.

It's not like Christian metal is an anomaly either.
We can't start this convo without mentioning the first sort of mainstream Christian glam metal band Stryper. (I know, I know, glam metal is still arguably metal but bare with me). Who apparently, in their time, were still considered to be anti-Christianity for their support in metal music. I'm not much a fan of Stryper. (I can jam to "To Hell With The Devil" tho...) Now, around the same time the Australian death metal outfit, Mortification came. This is a band that most metal heads are probably more comfortable/familiar with. Since then, fast forward to the early 2000s when metal core exploded you got Underoath, As I lay Dying and Demon Hunter becoming very mainstream and publicly Christian bands.

Hell there is even Black Christian Metal. No, you did not read that wrong. There is Black Christian Metal. Although I've not encountered any that I really like besides Antestor.


I don't know where it came from but really, what the hell is with this mentality that because a metalhead is religious (I mostly mean in a Christian sense), it somehow nulls their identity as a 'troo' metalhead. Lets be honest folks, I've met some "Satan Worshipping" metal heads that didn't even really know why they were Satanists. I mean, when you ask them the questions that matter they can't come up with a good reason.

I guess the secret to finding good Christian Metal is that you actually have to have an open mind when listening and take it for what it is without automatically ruling it out just because these guys have a hard on for Jesus. Are some lyrics boring and contrived? Sure-but thats in a lot of metal. Are some Christian metal bands lame? Well sure if your listening to shit like P.O.D and The Devil Wears Prada.
Does all of it suck? 

No, actually some of it really rips. 

My verdict?

You guys know that I love Pagan/Viking/Folk metal and always will but...

Seriously, about a year ago I discovered the AWESOMENESS that is Believer. 
I even like them better than Holy Blood which is the only Christian Pagan Metal band that I know of.

I think that personally, they are the best Christian metal band. So underrated and very technical. IMO. 
And for the record, I DO like War of Ages. There, I said it.

So see? There is good Christian Metal out there, you just gotta believe it.


Or your still not convinced.

19 comments:

Ropa Hegg Mandaba said...

Yeah it does take a while for people to get into Christian metal, simply coz it has that word attached to it. If you make someone listen to a Christian band without telling someone it's Christian they'd prolly be like "damn this is pretty alright" then you reveal it then they may or may not change their mind, if they don't change their mind, it's most likely to be a guilty pleasure.

One of the first proper big bands I saw, first proper gig was As I Lay Dying and Bullet for my Valentine. I had no idea that AILD were a Christian band and I only found out years after and I dunno, I kinda felt a bit cheated but I still listen to em; whether be it the band itself or VSQ covers.
I guess coz my mum is Christian and I grew up being dragged to church and what not so I don't have a good association with the word. So I tend to have the typical meathead metalhead mentality of Christian metal = bad....kinda anyways.
Whether or not that is a legit enough reason to not like it, I dunno but I will give anything a chance whether it's religious band or not.
Send over some links to some tunes you think I'd like :3

\m/

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jamia said...

If you want a good christian metal band, then i suggest elgibbor. They are a christian black metal band from poland. The band has a pretty interesting history and the music is pretty good. Here's a list of some good christian metal bands (mostly black metal)

Usynlig tumult

Divine symphony
Coram deo

Feast eternal
Azmaveth
Agathothodion

Whisper from heaven

Demetrius said...

another amazing post

Full Metal Attorney said...

Virgin Black.

That's really all that needs to be said. Check them out. I would also recommend Lo-Ruhamah, Crimson Moonlight, Extol (at least The Blueprint Dives), and Slechtvalk,

Anonymous said...

This post seems to imply that disliking lyrical content is not an intelligent reason to dislike a piece of music, a proposition I fundamentally disagree with. Lyrics are a part of the music just like everything else. I can't really get behind a band that constantly pushes ideas I fundamentally disagree with because I think the riffs are catchy.

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Anon: Hmm, well I guess that depends on what kind of importance does lyrical content hold for you as opposed to the actual music.
For example, I LOVED Periphery's self titled album that came out last year I think because of the excellent guitar/melodic sections. As someone who is striving to learn guitar better, I appreciate it. The lyrics I could really do away with and I felt sometimes It took away from the music.
(Thus, why I LOVE BELIEVER for how technical it is)
Periphery even released an instrumental version of their album which was much better for me.
However, I understand that in the face of your personal beliefs it because sort of hazy. Like, I don't listen to Graveworm or Burzum for such reasons.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Periphery or what your problem with their lyrics might be, but I would like to make a distinction between "I think these lyrics are bad/cheesy" and "These lyrics espouse a radically different view of the world than the one I hold." The first makes it possible to still enjoy the music while the second is more problematic.

For example, I've read some people who enjoy the music of a band called Arghoslent despite the fact that they blatantly promote racist ideas, claiming that they just try to ignore the lyrics and appreciate the music. I can't go there. I don't mean to equate Christianity with racism; just want to point out there there can be some lyrical content that is so incongruous with your own values that it cannot be ignored.

None of this is to say that I wouldn't listen to an artist because I disagree with some of the viewpoints they put forth, but when the CORE of an artist's lyrical content (Christianity) runs counter to the CORE of my philosophical beliefs (skepticism, secularism, agnosticism, atheism, etc.), I cannot in any real sense consider myself a fan of that artist's music.

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Full Metal Attorney said...

I don't understand why lyrics are important when they're unintelligible. Even when they're intelligible, I still assign little importance to them.

That aside, you liked--no, loved the Periphery album? That was the worst album of the whole year. Sadistically awful, because they'd throw some cool stuff in there to try to draw you in, and then torture you with the vocals.

VSM said...

To me christian metal is about the same as communist metal from China. Pretty dull to the general audience but if you're a devouted follower of the philosophy who likes metal you'll probably love it, because it's the only game in town. And christianity like communism doesn't really advocate progressive thinking so you'll be destined to being a copycat of other great bands and thus average at best.

On the other side, it really is a bummer to see how low christianity has got itself to. If you can't win them, join them, I guess. Gimme that old time religion any day, rather than sheep in wolves' clothes.

About the lyrics, I suppose you must be pretty low on self esteem if you can't handle the message of opposing views. I love Johan Sebastian Bach's compositions although they were devoted to some jewish desert demon.

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@ Kelly: The instrumental album is infinitely better. But I agree that the vocals can turn into that 'whiny boy rock' sound that I hate. There is really some genius parts in that album, for sure.

Project Ghora: An Old Metalhead's Musings said...

A lot of death and black metallers see the intrusion of the church into their domain as a personal affront. I can understand that to a degree, but remember that music is both an accompaniment to and an expression of religion and spirituality, and every aspect thereof. Has been since we lived in caves.
If a band is openly Satanic, or Pagan, or Christian, and they choose dark progressive technical metal, then so?
If you're not a fan, don't listen to those bands, if you are a musician and you're pissed off at the Christian Right for having the audacity to push their message of faith, then don't bitch about it, start writing the sick shit that rips people's faces off!!! Don't just be content to complain, because why??
That's right, while one sits and bitches, THEY are writing music and getting gigs and selling records!

Full Metal Attorney said...

@ VSM: There are at least a couple examples that contradict your position, i.e., that Christian metal will always be a copycat. Trouble broke new ground, as did Believer, and especially Virgin Black. There still isn't anyone who sounds like VB. Norma Jean is another innovator, and perhaps the only metalcore band I actually like.

To an extent, you are correct that Christian bands are terrible. I think many of them go into music for a specific reason, either to preach to a specific demographic, or more likely to make the kind of music they like with lyrics that don't offend them. Very few of them go into it to be an original band that just happens to be Christian.

I get the sense that many of the more innovative bands with extreme ideas became innovators first, and then assigned an idea to it to give it a total package of radicalism. Whereas Christian bands often start from ideology and then go to music. Or maybe I'm wrong. History is full of examples of brilliant artists who are not right in the head, so it follows that they would have not-right-in-the-head philosophies.

Historically, Christianity has gone a couple different ways with progressive thought. During the Dark Ages, for instance, it was Christian monks who kept a lot of scientific knowledge alive. But as I've noted in other fora, it's not about Christianity itself, but rather how people use it.

@ Project Ghora: I wish all musicians would focus on writing face-ripping or soul-crushing music, instead of some philosophy.

VSM said...

Full Metal Attorney,

I'm ofcourse speaking on a general level and don't wholly disagree with the thought of christian band being original and innovative although I disagree with the bands you mentioned. I admit that Trouble is the only one I really have heard more than song or two and I don't really care enough to find out more. Usually "innovative christian metal band" is innovative only in that is a christian metal band.

This generality also applies to my comment about christianity being against progressive thought. Sure, there have been christians who haven't been against progressive thought but then again there have been nazis who didn't hate jews, but claming that nazism isn't anti-semitic or "it's not about nazism itself, but rather how people use it" woudln't go through anywhere.

I suppose my point is, so what even if there had been some christian band who made a good song or even a good album? It's just one retardedly average drop in the ocean of averegeness and medicority and if you really care you should find something better to do. Like examining catholic frescos. There's some dark and heavy stuff there and (almost) 100% christian.

Full Metal Attorney said...

To your first and third paragraphs, yes, usually. But 90% of everything is crap. Sturgeon's law. How many non-Christian bands are innovators? I agree that the percentages are probably better for non-Christian bands, but you shouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water.

To your second paragraph, your analogy is way off. Nazism is, plain and simple, a heinous philosophy. Fascism was based around a belief that happiness is an illusion, and that the only thing you can do is to get stronger. To that end, they believed war was a good thing, because it honed a nation's strength. I'm oversimplifying, but evil things are core to that philosophy. Christianity, on the other hand, is largely about love for your fellow man. It has to be twisted into something else to become evil.

VSM said...

FMA,

You definitely should throw the baby out 'cause there still is plenty of greatness to go around and life is too short to be wasted on medicore things.

Isn't it always so easy to claim yourself to be part of the good guys and the others just plain evil? I bet any nazi worth their Totenkopfs could easily argue the opposite, thgough most nazis were christian. The core of the two philophies is the same: burning people who don't fit into your worldview, be it burning in this life or the after-life.

Then again, burning in a lake of fire, that's classic theme for a metal song. So christianity definitely fits into metal, just not the way these christian bands want it to fit.

Full Metal Attorney said...

I hadn't realized you left a response. Your misunderstanding of Christianity is sad. Also, a Christian worldview is much more suited to pure doom metal than any other worldview is.

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