Jesus Invented Death Metal
Jesus was born knowing he was going to die a violent death in his dirty thirties, a virgin, wearing a loincloth, ignored by his God. Come on, how much more death metal can you get?
Pipe organs. Acoustic guitars. Those Doogie Howser keyboards. And for the proudly pretentious, dulcimers.
How the hell did this crap get in Christian music? There's surely no music that describes the life of Christ better than death metal.
Running away from his parents at age 12 - that's metal. Speaking in parables to confuse and enrage his audience - even more metal! The gospel scene where Jesus overturns the money changers' tables and drives them out of the temple, were it made into a music video directed by Mel Gibson, would be paired with blazingly fast drumming, double bass pedals, spitting and growling, and probably some slow-motion blood flying through the air as the whip caught a Rob Schneider-type greasy dove merchant. Though the vocalist would probably talk about a "house of Slayer."
Jesus was born knowing he was going to die a violent death in his dirty thirties, a virgin, wearing a loincloth, ignored by his God. Come on, how much more death metal can you get? For His sake, he sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane! You have everything needed to write a wrenchingly bleak song that will put Warner Music Group in the black for Q2. Morbid Angel's "God of Emptiness" surely describes how Jesus was feeling in his final moments, crying out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" in a guttural sputter. Also, "Altering the Future" by Death has a deep sense of Catholic social teaching. I think.
It's only natural that Christian metal musicians would draw inspiration from the life of a man who drank his own blood and created a universe that resembles a complicated series of palm-muted riffs, breakneck solos and sudden time-signature changes. They exorcise their larynxes to create otherworldly admonitions to Satan to get the hell outta here (surely someone has put this on a T-shirt) and blast away the hearing of their fans until the voice of the Spirit is more clear.
Death metal and Christianity ultimately have the same aim: annihilation of self. One just happens to involve a lot more vodka.
The Metal Is the Message
Christian Death Metal--yes, there is a sub-genre of the Metal>Christian Metal musical sphere, also known as a Dantean Level of Hell--has about the same theological sense as a luxury meal served with Velveeta cheese.
Christian music, as a whole, almost revels in the nearly saccharine nature of its own message, generally involving the sacrifice of Jesus, and our inability to express how great or awesome He is in relation to our own sinful nature.
This may seem like an adequate place to puncture the genre with a message and medium so wildly out of step with the norm that it actually does serve as a wakeup call to Christian America--Wake up, the standard message of awe and vague joyfulness in your savior is an opiate! Comparatively, death metal is like a spiritual colonic, jolting believers out of their slumber and into a life of action.
But isn't the medium the message? If you can't hear the lyrics in normal metal, the odds that you'll be gifted with hearing the tongues of metal frontmen shrieking out prophetic rhymes--well, clearly you've never been that close to a powered amp. It's called distortion for a reason, and what's left after lyrics are subsumed by grinding metalcore with a conscience is, well, just the clanging of cymbals, so to speak.
Just as much, or perhaps more than the lyrics, the sound of the instruments, speak volumes as to the spiritual content of the music. If speaking with the tongues of angels but having no love is seen by the Almighty as a wasted breath, then you can believe guttural growling over pulsing, twisted metal isn't viewed as a beautiful sound in His ears.
Then there's the lyrics themselves, if they can be deciphered. The preface of "Death" paints the grim picture of a genre consumed with it. Yes, Jesus died an excruciating death on the cross. But in my research, I encountered more continuity with the "Black" metal genre, which is typically more obsessed with Mel Gibson levels of gore and fear. Promos I found for Christian Death Metal shows featured graves, skeletons, dripping blood, and words like "evisceration" and "obliteration." Not exactly a soul-searching message of grace, love, peace, forgiveness, or joy typically found in your standard Jesus-grade Christian song; unless it refers to the shredding of vocal chords in the service of Christ, the overall message of Christian Death Metal sounds, on its face, antithetical to the life-affirming Christ.