Defenders of the Faith: Metal and Religion

There are certain hypocrisies in the metal world when it comes to religion; a double standard that we all apply when it comes to matters of faith.

Imagine a band that sings about their faith, and about how theirs is the one and only that is right, while all the others are not only wrong, but are actually inherently worthless; these other faiths are, actually, made up of worthless “human cattle”. You are probably thinking that a band like that would never make it in the metal world, where we are known for rejecting not only religious fundamentalism but also, to an extent, religion in general. Well, believe it or not, bands like that already exist: Watain, Dissection and The Devil’s Blood are (or, in the case of the last two, were) bands that are precisely about that: The faith of their theistic branch of Satanism and, to a point, the cattle-character of those who are not (or cannot be) members.

100% Religious
Watain: 100% Religious (Photo: Lynda Akerberg)

While all the above bands achieved huge levels of success (particularly Dissection and Watain, both of which I consider great musical acts), imagine what would have happened if this type of lyrical content came from a band pushing Christianism, Judaism or Islamism. Of course, they’d be booed out of any stage outside of the bible-belt area that allowed As I Lay Dying to achieve success.

At some point the metal community came to a sort of silent consensus about Satanism and Odinism being “acceptable”, while any other form of religion was seen as a proper target for mockery. Somewhere along the line we decided that believing in Jesus Christ was downright moronic, while believing in Satan, Lucifer, or whatever incarnation is being pushed by the black metal band of the day, was completely rational and logical. Even atheistic metalheads seem to be happy to give these ideologies a pass, while bitching about how stupid and nonsensical it is to be a Christian.

As an agnostic, I have no intention to defend Christianity or any religion. If anything, I think religion does not get the criticism and mockery it honestly and truly deserves. And yet, it feels wrong to see that Michael Kiske, when he wrote for our site or when I interviewed him, was the object of a lot of criticism for being openly a Christian (someone even said that I was stupid, because an intelligent person would have tried to humiliate and insult him), whereas when I interviewed Watain nobody thought of saying anything remotely critical about Erik being a committed and faithful follower of the Misanthropic Luciferian Order, or when Gaahl told me he considered himself an Odinist.

There’s nothing intrinsically “badass” about being a Satanist or an Odinist, just like there’s nothing intrinsically good about being a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew. If we want to mock some people for believing in traditional religious bullshit (and perhaps we should) then we ought to extend the same treatment to those who believe in fringe doctrines. After all, there is no Satan without God… and I’m pretty sure thunder does not come from some dude with a hammer.

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