Are Metal and Morals Like Oil and Water?

Tenacious D was right. You can’t stop the Metal. From Black Sabbath to August Burns Red, metal music flourishes because it simply refuses to quit.

And metal fans can smell bullshit coming from miles away. We refuse to bow to the mainstream idea that selling millions of records means an artist has talent. Sorry Ludacris.

Despite parental warnings, unfair labels, and cultural stigma, metal continues to burst outward with fresh energy.

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But let’s face it. The metal scene gets a bad rap. Mainstreamers typically associate metal with satanic worship, cult sacrifice, and punching children in the face. They believe that the screaming is just angry noise, the music is way too loud, and the people are all bad. Tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, profane shirts, weird pants–they hate what doesn’t look, sound, and smell like them, and they make their hate public. Our scene has taken the brunt end of a laundry list of insults meant to not only harm the music’s reputation but all who choose to listen as well.

Unfortunately, when we’re labelled as a metal-head, a satan worshipper, or an emo/goth kid, we’re ostracized from other groups of people who just don’t see why “that young man can’t get a haircut and sing more nicely, like my home church worship leader.” Even though some of their comments are just ridiculous and hilariously conservative, they believe in their hearts that we are bad and who we are is wrong. And sometimes it’s hard to fight off wondering if there’s any truth to what they’re saying.

So what are we to do when the music we love clashes with our desire to be a good person?

What if I told you that in most cases, it doesn’t? What if I told you that, even if a band does clash with something you believe in, you can still enjoy them?

I love Jesus, AND I love Lamb of God, and that’s OK.

It doesn’t get much more metal than Lamb of God. They’re one of my favorite bands, and while I haven’t yet seen them live, I want to go to one of their shows and punch people.

But here’s where the tension lives: their lyrics seem to decry everything I believe in. They bash religion, belittle the church, and denounce Jesus, who I base my life around. Before they were known as Lamb of God, their band was literally entitled Burn the Priest.

Many of us unearth identity through the metal we listen to, but we often forget that when we listen to a song, we’re part of the conversation. We’re able to enter into a discussion about what we believe, and that discussion doesn’t have to determine who we are at the end of the day.

When I tunnel down to the meaning of their lyrics and the spirit behind what they’re screaming about, I find that we don’t disagree on very much at all. From their first album to their last, Lamb of God calls out the disgraceful hypocrisy that’s woven its way into American Christianity. They call out priests and pastors for whoring out their cause to make a dollar, or for admonishing their congregations with a “do as I say, not as I do” message.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re absolutely right, and I agree with them. I believe Jesus would agree with them. I’d rather spend my time headbanging to Lamb of God’s comment on my beliefs than listening to a phony pastor preach one thing and practice another.

On other points, I’ll disagree with Lamb of God. They don’t believe in a deity, and proclaim that it’s foolish to do so. I respect their viewpoint, and I see how they arrived at it, but I disagree.

Guess what? They still create beautiful face-melting music. My opinions about their lyrics have nothing to do with the sheer skill Lamb of God pours into each song they write. Additionally, if I’m too afraid to wrestle with beliefs contrary to my own, I’ve got to wonder if I believe them at all.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If I’m afraid to wrestle w/beliefs contrary to my own, I’ve got to wonder if I believe them at all.” quote=”If I’m too afraid to wrestle with beliefs contrary to my own, I’ve got to wonder if I believe them at all.”]

At the end of the day, you don’t have to censor which songs you do and don’t listen to. You can disagree with the message and still recognize the beauty and the power in the music behind it.  You don’t have to allow the lyrics from a song to dictate or shape your life. Instead, you can enter into the conversation or exercise your freedom to respectfully disagree. Sometimes honestly I don’t even know what they’re screaming about half the time. What I do know is that when I’m on mile three of a run down some backwoods trail and the breakdown on Terminally Unique rolls into my earbuds, it lights my heart on fire and makes me want to sprint like I’m running from the zombie apocalypse.

I love Lamb of God and Jesus, and it’s okay if the music you listen to runs against your beliefs. Ultimately, we’re always going to flock to what we recognize as beautiful. It’s ok to disagree with the message and still listen to the music; you don’t have to let it mold you as a human being.

In Set to Fail, Lamb of God vocalist, Randy Blythe, tells the listener, “You want to hate me for the way you hate yourself; you think you can find who you are in someone else; You’ve got a long way to go.

I agree.

*bangs head*

Showing 4 comments
  • Kindra Meier
    Reply

    I love this article because I love Jesus and I love hardcore music, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to listen to satanic music because demonic spirits exist and it’s never a good idea to invite them to hang out

  • Dick Faggotson
    Reply

    It works both ways – I saw people on the web bashing Christian bands for being Christian, even if they’re just labeled that and barely touch on religion in their topics. At the same time, I’m as atheistic as they come but I absolutely LOVE Silent Planet and Oh, Sleeper. Garrett and Micah are incredibly talented lyricists and vocalists that have passion that is surpassed probably only by Jason Butler. Truth be told, in my experience I found out that many bands who have the best live shows are labeled as “Christian”. Though the top is taken by Enter SHikari and letlive, he-he.

  • Marielle Donita
    Reply

    I totally agree with what this post points out. I also do the same with most of my favorite secular/non-church bands. Arch Enemy, for example, have atheist members and most of their songs talk about atheism and anarchy, but I love them for their musical style. Same thing with Alesana, another favorite band of mine. But it doesn’t mean I should adopt their beliefs just because they’re my favorite bands. And I totally don’t listen to a song when it explicitly talks about satanic worship, or if I really can’t handle the message anymore, especially when it’s negative.

  • Cheng
    Reply

    I love LOG too 😀 Walk with me in hell is one of my favorites from them

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