Since The Rural Democrat has been on a lovely, and well extended, hiatus from politics we still keep the blog alive by writing about different subjects. This subject is a personal one as I have founded a band that is reputed to be Christian Black metal, even I have used the term many times. It seems that every few years there is a small blossoming of Christian metal bands. But they usually fade away relatively quickly. However, Christian lyrical content wrapped in a Black metal package has been around for 20 years and will always be controversial.
There is a very small section on this subject in my upcoming documentary entitled "Out of the Black - A Black Metal Documentary". I didn't feel the need to expound on the sub-genre of Christian Black metal but the question; "is it or is it not Black metal" is very intriguing. Black metal means many things to many people and for the laymen the term Black metal means just as much as any other musical genre categorization. However, Black metal goes deeper, it plays with your head through not only music but through a well defined artistic expression. It is the only form of Heavy Metal, in my opinion, where one can truly become someone else and express their art through brutal music, mostly in a dark sinister manner. This leads me back to the question; can you take the Black out of Black metal? Black simply meaning evil, darkness and or malevolent. The music in itself cannot be considered evil because at the end of the day it is simply noise cemented together using different pitches and tones. The words, the lyrics, is what makes the music evil. In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 15 verse 11 Jesus says as much "Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.".... Also, actions can be considered evil that includes certain rituals performed on stage or imagery used.
So what is the Black in Black metal? Purists will certainly tell you that it revolves around satan and satanic, or anti-Christian, lyrical content. I would tend to agree. Satanic lyrical content certainly makes the music dark or black. But Black metal cannot be contained within the satanic realm as there are many forms of Black metal that does not revolve around the devil in the Holy Bible. Most "satanists" today define the term as a philosophical blueprint for the way they live their lives and this philosophy revolves around self worship not the worship of an entity called satan. Within this philosophy, that defines most of the "satanists" in the Black metal scene, the Black in Black metal is the expression of the release of ones internal demons. Anyway you look at, or no matter what philosophy or religion that the Black metal community revolves around, it is inherently anti-Christian, or anti-religion. Even though modern satanists and devil worshipers have very different philosophies they share a common goal; the destruction of Christianity.
I simply cannot define Black metal as a simple sub-genre of Heavy Metal music, it is much more than that. Within my band, called Inchained, we express God's Word through shock. The idea is to emulate the prophets of old like Elijah, Isaiah and Ezekiel. Their actions, viewed through the lens of modern society, can certainly be considered extreme. Yet they were Prophets of God through and through. Jesus provided us the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, a true expression of the true nature of God's power and love. You can express God's word in many ways, the number one approach is through love, mercy and humbleness. However, you can also express the Word of God through shocking imagery, you can preach the word while describing what is in store for those who reject his Word. Sort of like the old Pentecostal or Holiness preaching styles but using extreme metal music as the backdrop. We use apocalyptic symbolism to express our view of God's word, a warning if you will.
So this leads us back to the question at hand; is Christian Black metal actually Black metal? I would say "no" a Christian Black metal band, at its core, is not and will never be Black metal. But for the sake of marketing the title Christian Black metal must be used to describe the style of metal music performed by the band. There are other titles that are used such as; Holy unblack metal or white metal but those terms are simply lame and I refuse to use them to describe our band. I guess at the end of the day I look at it like this; God and Christ can exist anywhere at any time even in the realm of the Black metal scene. Anti-Christian imagery has been used for 40 years in metal music and as a sign of protest I use anti-satanic imagery. If one identifies themselves as Christian and is unwilling to interact with, or more specifically preach the Word of God to, people who can be considered by most as "evil" then that person is not fulfilling goal of emulating Christ. He certainly interacted and ministered to the worst of the worst in his day in 1st century Israel and we as Christians must emulate Christ. So at the end of the day I will continue to use the term Christian Black metal so people can identify the type of music we play but a Christian band can never be Black metal. Maybe some day someone will coin a new term for bands like Inchained. One term that would truly define Inchained would be Kingdom Metal. It's a powerful term that can be used to describe the lyrical content of the music. We revolve around the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven and part of that Gospel is the description of outer darkness and hell. So maybe I will start using the term Kingdom Metal along with Christian Black metal and see if it catches on.