MovieChat Forums > Deathgasm (2015) Discussion > Metal and Christianity

Metal and Christianity


There's the stereotypical myth -- illustrated in the movie -- that Christianity and Christians are inherently opposed to metal, but Black Sabbath started the genre and they had overtly pro-Christian songs, like "After Forever" and "War Pigs." If you doubt that, just read the lyrics. Here's the final stanza of "War Pigs":

Now in darkness world stops turning,
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more War Pigs have the power,
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pigs crawling,
Begging mercies for their sins
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings
Oh, LORD, yeah

Or how about the ending of "Hallowed Be Thy Name"?...

When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you'll begin to understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion
Yeah, Hallowed be Thy Name
Yeah, Hallowed by Thy Name

Not to mention that there are scores of kick-axx metal bands that have espoused biblical themes in a positive sense, like Cage, Trouble, Megadeth, W.A.S.P., Helloween, Saint, Tourniquet, Bride, Saviour Machine, Living Sacrifice, Antestor, Zao, Seventh Angel, Theocracy, Barnabas, Believer, Overkill, Deadly Blessing, Avenged Sevenfold, Meliah Rage and (of course) Stryper.

Notice, by the way, that I didn't say they were all "Christian bands," just that they have all blatantly espoused biblical themes on occasion. Needless to say, the idea that metal is intrinsically anti-God is laughable. Get real. Christianity has been part of the genre since day one.

reply

A lot of metal bands use the Christian source material to mock it, satirize it, or even to evoke the Satanic aspects of Christian theology - allying themselves (at least in aesthetic and pretense) with Evil. There has always been a devil aspect to metal (throwing the horns) as well.

I'm not super-familiar with the genre, and I certainly don't want to imply that all metal bands are into Satanism, Devil Worship, or are anti-Christian. I recognise that it's a genre with a tonne of diversity in it, a lot of creativity and so forth. But I think that's where a large portion of the reputation comes from.

I think the other reason, of course, is that every generation of teenagers finds music that ticks off their parents and the parents respond by saying that, not only is the music loud, dumb, and atonally obnoxious, but also that it's EVIL! We see this with jazz (it's making them fornicate!), rock 'n' roll (it's causing rebellion...and making them fornicate!), heavy metal (they're satanists! FORNICATING SATANISTS), and hip hop and rap (booty? hos? I suspect this has something to do with fornication...)

So the combo is that the band uses what they think are cool images on the albums (Dio's Holy Diver, for instance), which means something or it doesn't depending on the group. Then, parents decide they don't like the music and, consciously or unconsciously, start looking for a legitimate reason to ban it (other than, "I'm old and I just hate new things"). They see the image and say, "Satanists!" Which drives up record sales and feels dangerous and cool to the band. They start leaning into that image because it sells and it's their "thing" now. Lather, rinse, repeat. Self-fulfilling prophecy. An ouroboros of misunderstood Satanic influence.

reply

Thanks for the insights. I wasn't saying that the satanic element isn't there -- obviously it is -- just that there are and have been many pro-Christian bands or songs since Day One. And I'm not talking 'bout mocking or satirizing. The proof is in the pudding of the bands I cited.

You'll notice that I didn't cite Dio in my list because -- while he may have used quasi-biblical imagery in his art & lyrics -- his lyrics were serious gobbledygook, often fantasy-oriented yet somehow linked to reality. Like you said, the art & lyrics just looked or sounded 'cool,' which is what he was shooting for to sell records and appeal to the metal masses. Moreover, he has stated in interviews that he didn't subscribe to the traditional concept of Christianity.

Check out Dave Mustaine's commentary on the topic in an interesting interview (it runs about six minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwDbiajBEbk

reply

I haven't yet, but I'll watch the interview.

I think all metal bands got lumped in together. So, the pro-Christian, or neutral bands got lumped in with the few that did lean into the devilish stuff because of the generation-gap paranoia thing.

As I said, I'm not much of a metal guy (mad respect, though) so, I had no idea what Dio's lyrics were about or not about. I've listened to a little Black Sabbath/ Ozzy, and then a few of the better-known songs of the genre (like Run to the Hills or Master of Puppets) and that's about it for real metal stuff - as opposed to "hard rock" like Led Zeppelin or AC/DC (which I have more experience with). Mostly I dig jazz, blues, and rock-and-roll along the lines of the Stones.

reply

I could be wrong, but I honestly think he says "that the mirror's just a strange illusion". Listen closely.

reply

I think music of all genera, as well as any art form is neutral. It can be used to express whatever the artist wishes.

reply

Very true. All art forms are a neutral tool for what the artist wants to convey, whatever his/her ideology.

Those are the correct words for "Hallowed Be Thy Name" in my original post. That's how they were written on the record sleeve when the album debuted in the early 80s. Google it.

reply

I did and I believe it but it REALLY sounds different. :)

reply

Yeah, I always thought the chorus of "Games Without Frontiers" was saying "She's so popular" (or maybe "She's so f**king A," lol). Turns out Kate Bush was singing "Jeux sans frontieres," which is French for "Games without frontiers."

reply