Thursday, November 5, 2009

Christian Metal

I feel like ragging on Christians today. So, with that in mind, I present two posts about Christian metal/hard rock.

Christian metal is often thought to be something of an oxymoron. But, in realisty, Christianity in metal has been present almost as long as the genre has. Go back to "After Forever" on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality album for proof. This song is either extremely religious, or extremely anti-religious, it's never been entirely clear. Both Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi are fairly religious people though, so it's not a stretch to believe that their lyrics are honest.

Now, my personal position on Christian metal bands is this: I have no problem with them as long as the music is good. But that's often what gets these bands in trouble. It's no secret that Stryper's work after their first album was crap. It's no secret that Mortification is one of the worst bands in death metal. It's no secret that As I Lay Dying's early stuff is just an Avenged Sevenfold-meets-Trivium-meets-Killswitch Engage knockoff, although their later material clearly shows the band progressing.

Those are just a few names. But, the reality is that a lot of Christian metal bands are not very good. There are some good ones though, such as:

Trouble does not claim to be a Christian metal band at all. They were marketed as such early in their career though and it didn't help that their first album Psalm 9 clearly dealt with biblical issues. This lyrical bent did change over time, but their early albums were fine examples of Christian-oriented metal done correctly.

Believer is one of the original technical thrash metal bands and they built up a huge following at the same time that Atheist, Heathen, and Cynic were revolutionizing the metal sound. Believer recently got back together and put out a very strong album on Metal Blade earlier this year.

It's true, just look at some of the lyrics. KsE is clearly talking about God here. The metalcore pioneers are one of the better bands in their genre but are unfortunately quickly wussifying themselves. I probably just made up a word. Their early stuff is very strong, powerful music with a somewhat positive message.

There are other bands with fairly outspoken Christian members as well, such as Megadeth (Dave Mustaine once refused to go on tour with Dissection and Rotting Christ), Deicide, Slayer, and others. Metal and Christianity are not mutually exclusive although the genre has built itself up in the eyes of the mainstream as a Satanic haven for lost souls.

The important thing to take away from all of this is that it's music. The message should not be as important as writing good music. I am just as likely to hate a bad Satanic band as I am to hate a bad Christian band. Unfortunately there's a lot of crap out there.

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