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.

Watain (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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J_MetalBlastAtheistJ_MetalBlastAmit NJeff Clark Recent comment authors
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Jeff Clark
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Jeff Clark

There are two levels to this: The first is the truly theological and philosophical level. Satanism/Devil Worship/Demonology is by nature an extension of Christianity and doesn’t exist outside that context. If you reject the Christian version of the universe then you reject Satan (who was actually one of God’s angels, and never was against God; that is a narrative created by middle age fiction writers). Odinism (is that what they are calling it today, I thought it was called Asatru) is as silly as modern day witchcraft. It has no pedigree and any rituals are made up. The culture that… Read more »

J_MetalBlast
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An interesting read. Thanks for your visit!

Amit N
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Amit N

Your articles are brilliant, thank you for writing this. I’ve always felt a bit conflicted as an Atheist who loves Black Metal and recognises that some bands truly believe in Satanism or Odinism. It’s always seemed odd as I truly abhor religion, I enjoyed the satanic aspect as a kid as I always thought of it as more of an anti-authoritarian stance, more than a theistic belief system held by the members of the band. I think now that I’m older, on the one hand I find it hard not to hear or see interviews where bands I love (E.g.… Read more »

J_MetalBlast
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Hi Amit! Thanks for the very kind words
It’s all about the double standard, I agree. Also, yeah, the MLO people are often… “funny”, to say the least.

Atheist
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Atheist

Yeah well, if there is no Satan without God, then there is no Satan. As any 5th grader should be able to recognize, much of “Satanism” in heavy metal is actually opposition to Chritianity. Opposition to Christinity, more than “Satanism,” is the actual tradition in metal. Now, some bands and musicians do claim to be actual “Satanists” but they have little actual (political) power, unlike Chritianity, which had been responsible for horrible institutional atrocities, crimes, rapes, wars, persecutions, and oppressions across many centuries. Christianity is embedded within financial and political powers. In short, Christianity is actually worth opposing. Satanism and… Read more »

rootarded
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Hi, thank you so much for your visit and your comment. I think you misunderstood what I said. I’m not asking people to “oppose” Satanism, anymore than I’m asking people to “oppose” Christianity or Islam. I personally don’t care about people’s creeds, it’s their own business. Having said that, however, I do see that many people give a pass to theistic satanism and Odinism, even though they are as nonsensical as Christianity. Even worse, some branches of theistic Satanism are actively violent, and downright sociopathic in their beliefs. The MLO’s idea of “wolves in a world of sheep,” and all… Read more »