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Saturday, April 07, 2012

A Defense of Heavy Music

My intention in this short piece is to defend heavy music for the sake of the lost and immature in Christ, that those who are mature may not alienate them in condemning their music and their subculture and in essence them. (because, if we’re honest, we all know how music can draw us in to the point where an insult to our music is an insult to us...)

I implore the reader to NOT use my arguments to fuel a disagreement between them and someone in their church or family. Those who are mature in Christ really have no option but to give up their preferences for the sake of their relationships. If God chooses to bless me with a wife, and she hates heavy music, I intend to joyfully relegate that music to my headphones or when my wife is not by my side, where I hope she would be for as much of our married life as possible.

It would be a truly sad commentary on any relationship if they were willing to chose a musical preference over a relationship.

That being said, let us begin.

Musical argument

I have repeatedly heard the argument against heavy music, that ‘it isn’t music’. If that is true, than the critic of heavy music need not show any understanding or engage in any discussion about its merits as music. I intend to show that it IS music.

The reason why many in our culture have a hard time understanding heavy music is because our ears are immediately drawn to the lead vocals, and it is there that we search for the melody or ‘hook’ of the song.

When confronted with heavy music (or rap, but that is another discussion...) they are greeted not only with disagreeable screaming or growling, but NO MELODY! To being to understand heavy music, you have to see the vocals as more of a percussive instrument. Or perhaps more like a ‘didgeridoo’. A monotone instrument, which can vary in percussive qualities, intensity, volume, etc.

I believe this is where the idea comes that it is not music. But as you hopefully can see at this point, just because the lead vocals do not contain a melody, does not mean it is not music.

In fact, growl/screaming is one of the most amazing percussive instruments. it can convey emotion in a way that beating on a skin stretched over a wooden case could never hope to convey. It holds within it all the percussive sounds of a full drum set: high hat, snare, toms, etc. It truly is amazing, and I’ll be honest, I wish I could do it.

Theological argument

The second reason why many people, especially Christians, frown upon heavy music is because of the anger or other negative emotions that seems to be there.

However, I would challenge the heavy metal hater: we are in a culture that has sinfully relegated anger to evil. It is not sinful to be angry. If I hear about a child molester who has take advantage of my niece, and I am not angry, I am a sociopath.

Does all heavy Christian music demonstrate righteous anger? Not at all. But just a it would be wrong to judge all pop music to be sinful if it does not convey joy stemming from a perfectly theologically correct source, it is wrong to judge all heavy music for being not perfectly theologically correct anger. Furthermore, the sinful distaste for anger has worked its way into the church.

I have heard pastors, 10, 20, and even 30 years into the ministry shocked by the wrath of God in the old testament. Men who have dedicated their lives to the study of God as revealed in His word! I have heard dear people in the faith unwilling to look upon the death of Christ as displayed in “The Passion of the Christ,” even though many scholars believe that the actual crucifixion would have been worse.

The modern evangelical church has relegated the righteous, holy, loving wrath of God to the equivalent of ‘potty language’ or ‘unnecessary crudeness’.

All that to say, the average church member is not equipped to hear heavy music, and appreciate character of God as expressed in the music, because for the average North American church member, the wrath of God is very insignificant, and certainly isn’t something beautiful about God.

So my point is, if someone is offended by heavy music to the point where they won’t even respect that it is a music style, just one they don’t enjoy, then IT IS POSSIBLE, that this attitude is a symptomatic of a lack of understanding of who our Glorious God is.

Let me reiterate: It is not wrong to dislike heavy music! But I would submit it is very likely wrong to condemn it as in illegitimate art form, or inherently sinful.

Conclusion

I have been blessed by God throughout the years as God has allowed me to be made fun of on numerous occasions because of my love for heavy music. He has taught me a lot about how selfish I am, and how I need to grow in ‘letting it go’ and ‘not taking it personally,’ and I still have a long way to go.

But I hope that this brief piece will encourage the body of Christ to be one in a more profound way, as we continually seek to put aside our differences and love each other for the fame and renown of Jesus Christ, our beautiful Savior.