Heavy Metal: Demonic or Introspective Art Form? A New Perspective

maxresdefaultMy tastes in music have been growing wider now that I no longer feel the need to filter it by “spiritual acceptability”. I was raised on Christian music, and “worldly” music was discouraged. Of course I still listened to some, mostly Backstreet Boys and oldies and the occasional punk band- but my music was very “vanilla”. Now I listen to classic rock, Lady Gaga, and so much more- but only recently did I try heavy metal. And I was very surprised… because I liked it.

I’ve included some lyrics and video links from the heavy metal band In This Moment, which I was recently introduced too and now love. I LOVE how powerful and sensual the lead female singer is. 5 years ago I would have called it demonic; now I see something complete different. I’ve come to understand that music is an expression of different parts of ourselves, including our “dark side”, our sensual side, our need for inspiration or laughter, etc. Heavy metal just connects to another part of our inner selves; it’s one method of expressing and connecting with emotion. It’s not evil or bad, it’s simply one form of self expression. (I’m still not a huge fan of hardcore screamo, but not on moral grounds. Just personal artistic preference.)

So why did I never seriously listen to it before? Why did I feel such apprehension about it during my years in Christianity? Why was it presented as “demonic”? Here are my thoughts.

1. Sexuality is sinful and threatening.

I can be your whore!
I am the dirt you created
I am your sinner
I am your whore
But let me tell you something baby
You love me for everything you hate me for

I’m the one that you need and fear
Now that you’re hooked, it’s all becoming clear
That all your judgments that you placed on me
Was a reflection of discovery
So maybe next time when you cast your stones
From the shadows of the dark unknown
You will crawl up from your hiding place
Take a look in the mirror
See the truth in your face

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GurkREc-q4I)

Women in fundamentalist Christianity are supposed to be sweet, submissive, polite, modest, chaste- women like the one in the above video are ANYTHING but! But you know what? I LOVE IT. Her raw sexuality, chaos, imperfection, and unfiltered emotion is unapologetic and in your face. She’s not ashamed or fearful about expressing this side of herself, she does it without asking anyone’s permission or forcing herself into anyone else’s box. And that scares oppressive religious groups that believe women should be ruled by men and religion. Bold, powerful women like this are too hard to control- so they demonize them and raise their little girls to never, ever be like these “bad women”.

2. “Dark is bad!”

You see I am the wolf,
And this dirty, little piggy lives inside of me.
You see every now and then,
I forget which one that I want and which one that I need.
I have come to realize
That both of them have become a necessity
I now have come to realize
That I become which animal I choose to feed

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-qQ_brIsfY)

Light vs darkness is translated into good vs evil, and it is the epitome of Christian doctrine. But in reality, we all have light and darkness within us that’s always there, whether we admit it or not, no matter how “good” we are. Violence and peace. Healer and warrior. Sensuality and chastity. Selfishness and selflessness. Loud and quiet. We have to find a balance between ALL of our different sides- squashing or denying one side just makes us be at war with ourselves. What good is the healer if they don’t also have their inner warrior to protect themselves when needed? What good is selflessness if we don’t ever put ourselves first in order to take care of our needs too? There is a time for peace and a time to fight for what is right… We require ALL parts of ourselves in order to survive and thrive, not just the pretty shiny bits. It’s not about these things being good or bad- it’s about balance and letting these parts of ourselves come out in a positive, instead of a negative and hurtful, manner. By demonizing our “dark side”, oppressive forms of Christianity force us into a never ending war with ourselves. Instead of teaching us to channel this side of ourselves into productive and helpful avenues, we’re told to fear and crush it.

3. I used to fear the kinds of emotions that this kind of music evoked within me.

Emotion is not evil. Emotion is sometimes ugly, imperfect, chaotic. Music conveys emotion in a way few other things do. It connects with something deep inside of us that we often don’t feel any other way. When I listen to songs like the ones I posted in this article, it makes me FEEL things- I experience EMOTIONS that I rarely tap into on a daily basis. It’s the same thing that happens when I listen to beautiful classical music or a serenading violin- it captures my emotions and mind and moves me. This kind of music just does it in a different way, and connects with a different part of me than classical music does.

I love them all. I go to different kinds of music when I want to feel different things. I listen to Celtic music when I desire inspiration, relaxation, and to write historical fiction. I listen to Katy Perry when I want to dance around my room singing into my hairbrush in striped socks. I listen to bands like Halestorm and In This Moment when I’m feeling fierce, erotic, and want to wear red lipstick black leather and badass high heels. I like this music because I feel bold, powerful, and sexy. Not exactly emotions we’re encouraged to feel in conservative Christianity.

4. It was obvious that these people didn’t need God.

I must confess,
I’m addicted to this
Shove your kiss straight through my chest
I can’t deny, I’d die without this
Make me feel like a God
Music, love and sex
(Adrenalize me)
I crave excess,
Turning wine into sweat dripping down my neck
I can’t deny, I’d die without this
Make me feel like a God
Adrenaline and sex

(Lyrics from this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXMfdpjnAHU)

Gone is the supplicating, needy verses that adorn so many Christian songs. Gone is the humility, the begging for forgiveness and God’s help, the loathing of “sin” and sexuality. This is blatant, in your face, people who fully embrace their dark side and don’t see it as negative at all. These are people who obviously don’t think they need the Christian God at all; what they actually need is music, love, and sex. Shocking! But this is scary to fundamentalist and conservative religion because they want you to think that being like this makes you broken and damned, not happy and fulfilled. It throws a wrench in their plans to make you think you need the shackles that they’re offering. It also glorifies being an imperfect mess- something that many types of Christianity decry as un-spiritual and negative.

******************************************************************************

It’s ironic that oppressive forms of Christianity claims to offer freedom, because I’m starting to realize how fearful and restricted I was. What exactly did this kind of Christianity free me from? Certainly not fear, because we were taught to fear so many things because they were “demonic” or “sinful”. Certainly not from immorality, because we can be moral without believing in a deity and many fundamentalist doctrines are horribly immoral. It didn’t make me stronger, because it taught me that I was incapable of doing anything on my own and needed external help for everything. So what did we really have freedom from? Nothing. I was a slave to a man-made code of rules that demonized self expression and my imperfection.

I leave you with this song… it’s my new musical anthem. It conveys so well what I’ve felt and experienced these past few years… and to be honest the musical style really fits. Take a listen if you desire, and decide for yourself if you love it or hate it. 🙂

“So when they continued asking him
He lifted up himself, and said unto them,
‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'”

Listen closely, to what I’m about to say
I think I’ve heard just about enough of your hypocritic ways
Don’t try and stop me now
Don’t you make a sound
You’ve built yourself up oh so high just to tear me down

I’m so tired of you telling me
How to live and what I should not be
And I’m so tired of you telling me
What to do and what I don’t believe
And after all that you’re telling me
Why is there hate and only you can see
And I’m so sick of you telling me
That I will burn, I will not be free

This is my song
My red crusade
What will I say?
What will I do?
Maybe it’s fear that leads your rage
Maybe you’re me and I am you

So go ahead and point your finger
Tell me who to love is it him or her?
When will you see this is who I am?
S-I-N-N-E-R
Natural Born Sinner

I’m not gonna change
So stay out of my way
I don’t need you to understand
That I’m already saved
Maybe you should stop question all your pain
Can you look me in my eyes and say we’re not the same?

Did you really think by pushing me
I would become what you want me to be?
And did you really think by hating me
I’d open up, I’d just hand you the key?
I know you’re scared and don’t understand
This is my life, this is who I am
What I do know is come Judgement Day
Before the Lord can you say the same?

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