Whenever anyone asks me what kind of music I listen to, I think to myself, “Here we go again.” I think this because the same conversation happens every time. I tell them my honest answer: Christian heavy metal. The reaction is usually the same: surprised, followed by, “Yeah I can’t handle that kind of music.”
Now, I am not talking about Christian rock such as Red, Skillet or Thousand Foot Krutch. No, I am talking about head-banging, screaming vocal bands such as August Burns Red, Phinehas or Fit for a King. The kind of music that when it is played people make that cringing face, similar to the face I make when country music is played.
I was introduced to this music in early high school, and it gradually grew from a “kind of like” to a love. I love the talent that goes into this music, from the incredible guitar licks to the insanely fast drumming found on many albums. Many people tell me they do not mind the music but it is the “screaming” that they just can’t handle. For me the screaming is icing on the cake. It is not an easy thing to do, as there is a “right” way to do it; if done wrong, you can do serious throat damage.
I’m sure many of you are thinking this is ridiculous. How can screaming sound good to somebody? It’s something I cannot easily explain, but I look at it this way. There are many “normal” bands out there, and some really enjoy the singing vocals while others don’t like that particular sound. I apply the same to screaming. There are some metal vocalists that I don’t care for, and each “screamer” has their own unique sound. The technicality of screaming is also very impressive to me. It’s important that they know the proper way to scream, otherwise the vocalist could permanently damage their voice.
“Christian heavy metal” might sound like an oxymoron, but that very phrase is another reason why I love the genre even more. Metal is very unique, as there is not much of a gap between secular and Christian metal quality-wise. They are often lumped together and tour together all the time.
There are no doubt some very vulgar metal bands, similar to any other genre, but the fans of those bands cannot help but love August Burns Red (a Christian band). Metal shows then become a platform for Christian bands to share the stage with other bands whose message is quite the opposite of Christianity. Many bands who love the Lord take advantage of this and do not shy away from taking time and sharing the Gospel at their shows.
I am by no means telling anyone they need to like metal. Certain genres are not meant for everyone, as there is a good amount of music I don’t care for – country being one of those, which seems to be quite popular around here. However, I hope I can at least speak on Christian metal’s behalf and shed a positive light on a genre that seems to be passed by and misunderstood quite often.