View Full Version : What makes music "metal" ??

04-15-02, 01:52 PM
Hi everyone, just posted an introduction under the comedy/hijinks topic, in part because I'm a bit of a comedian, but also because it was the highest traffic heading that wasn't "teen" per se. (I'm 36).

As a couple of you have answered me, yes, I have been a heavy metal singer for 18 years now. I have had great reservations about the lyrical content of many, many metal bands for quite some time and have tried to find stuff that I enjoyed that was "less" offensive.

This is really hard to do!

And I wonder, what makes it "metal". Is it simply a distorted guitar sound? I don't think so- that would include far too many rock styles today.

Is it vocal screeching? Well, probably not, as several "metal" singers are virtuosos and do not simply screech.

Is it Attitude? Lyrics? Content? Yes. Now I think we are getting down to it.

And I worry because even Yoda said, "Fear, Anger, Agression, The Dark Side are these".

He might as well have been describing the essential elements of heavy metal.

Is "Heavenly Metal" even possible? I look to you, my new friends to advise me in this because I really don't know any to speak of.

I remember being very excited back in the day when Stryper first came out. It blew my mind that you could have rippin guitar solos and wailing falsetto vocals yet be saying "JESUS IS THE WAY!"

Yet, when I bought their first full length album, what I first pulled out was not the vinyl (ok i'm old), but a "STRYPER MERCHANDISE OFFER".

Then add to it their huge dollar bill cover of the album IN GOD WE TRUST, and then their collapse into being a "secular" band all over again, and I guess I became very skeptical that Metal and Jesus were in any way compatible. Not to heap blame upon one band, but Styper in many ways gave me a very negative opinion of the concept of religious metal/hard rock. I began to wonder if it were simply a devious satanic plot. (I'm not really that paranoid, I promise, but I do believe in demons and I do believe in Temptation. And I think it takes many forms. I wondered if it were simply a wolf in sheep's clothing)

I am not going to lie- I still listen to metal. I enjoy european, gothic sort of bands like JP, IM, Helloween, Accept, Rammstein etc....but I listen to them with a degree of guilt. I do tend to skip songs I feel are not acceptable to me in lyrical content. But that's probably still not good enough. (sigh)

I guess Lyrics are what it all comes down to. No note of music could be evil in and of itself.

I had posted that I had been engaged in spiritual warfare with people at the message boards at Robert Halford's site, where the former lead singer of Judas Priest resides. Having been a fan of his singing for years, I was delighted that Rob would communicate with his fans in this manner and I joined that community gladly, in fact, I was nearly a charter member, since he quit JP and had the (now dead) web page Two-Online.com.

Being that Rob is gay there is a very strong pro-homosexuality faction there. Saying anything negative about this was a sure way to start a fight and to be called a "hate-monger".

Not to bring politics into this, but I have seen that Political Correctness is probably the greatest example of INTOLERANCE yet devised. Intolerance for any viewpoint which does not say "everything and anything is AOK, do what you feel". Well, that's how all manner of troubles get inflicted on the human race.

I have been trying to reach those people but it is very difficult. Many are actively engaged in Wicca or different occult practices. I did not always realize this. It took a Reverend to show up and leave a big message urging Rob to turn away from homosexuality and lyrics preoccupied with Hell and hellish imagery, and the incredible backlash against him, to open my eyes about the true values and beliefs of those I had believed were my friends. I was appalled by the venom that they threw at him- and then at me when I came to his defense. I don't think it would be inaccurate to say I'm the only person at that web site who defends Christianity.

One thing I have learned is that the old saying "The devil can quote scripture to serve his own ends" actually goes both ways.

It amuses me to be able to break out metal song lyrics that actually support God and the Bible and what is the Truth, as it was written, we are engaged in a struggle between "powers and principalities".

Most of those folks are actually atheists- it offends them to imagine that anyone can tell them what to do, or that morality should be spelled out for them. They imagine it is nobler for the world to change for Them rather than They change for the sake of the world. Selfishness. Pride. Wanting to be God. It is really the essence of satanism.

Of course, if they don't believe in Satan either it's hard to make them see that point (laughing!)

Some actually debate whether Satan is a good guy or a bad guy, as laughable as that sounds, they actually debate this.

It's at times like this that metal lyrics can be used against them- I say, hey, listen to your hero Rob who wrote,

Since time began I made a vow to drag you underground
To steal your soul of purity and watch you waste away.

I ask them, does this sound like a benevolent being to you?? hehe.

Yet I do ask again. Is "heavenly metal" even possible? Is Fear, Anger, Agression, as Yoda said, the real qualifications for being "metal" by any definition?

Just wanting to start a discussion. I sometimes make provocative statements to get the ball rolling.

I invite your thoughts on this question.

04-15-02, 02:00 PM
Hey man, had to take the link out 'cause some of the content on the linked site wouldn't fly with the admin, there being lots of kids around here and stuff. It converts URLs to links automatically, I know you didn't mean anything by it so it's cool, just that I gotta watch out for that sort of thing.

Now I'm going to go think up a good reply :)

Peace, Love, and Jesus Christ,


04-15-02, 02:03 PM
I understand- please realize I'm used to an "anything goes" environment, so I will take note of that.

04-15-02, 02:12 PM
Hmm.... what makes music metal... an excellent question!

You're right, obviously it's not just distorted guitars and/or a certain vocal style... it seems that "heavy" does seem to be best described by the attitude behind the music. While many metal songs seem to have similar qualities to their music, such as fat, distorted guitar tones, "intense" vocals, and "heavy" lyrics (as James Hetfield said in an old Guitar World magazine I have at home, you can't write that kind of music with fluffy lyrics) and even in attempting to describe common characteristics I find myself resorting to abstract, general statements because the breadth of musical styles and characteristics represented by the term "metal" is so diverse... I would say that it's impossible to exactly pin down what makes music "metal". Ozzy sings differently than does James Hetfield who sings differently than does Halford who sings differently than... and so on and so on, Anthrax, Slayer, Scott Staph of Creed (though I wouldn't call them metal, personally- more like metal-ish rock, and there we go again with the "why do you generalize in that way, and call one group metal and another group not metal" and I don't have a rational response- it's just how it feels to me), etc. etc.

I think there's all kinds of discussion left to have on this topic, for sure, but before I go any further I want to ask a question and make a suggestion.


Because Stryper was secular and went back to secular, and did not necessarily embrace Christian values during their career, does that make the songs themselves from the Christian period less valuable?


Check out Disciple www.disciplerocks.com I really love those guys. Sometimes on the CDs it starts all sounding the same, but there are several solid tunes on the By God and This Might Sting a Little albums. I'm not as familiar with their earlier material. And I've seen them live several times, WOW it's an intense spiritual experience. Kevin Young, the lead singer and bassist, is an incredible personality with a lot of fire for the Lord, at every show he preaches, leads a prayer session, and they do a couple of worship songs in the middle of the set. The song "Not Rock Stars" from the By God album is practically an autobiography for the band.

Peace, Love, and Jesus Christ,


04-15-02, 02:14 PM
No problem d00d, I'm not going to feed you to the flames or anything. ;) It's all about grace :)

Peace, Love, and Jesus Christ,


Originally posted by Ardra
I understand- please realize I'm used to an "anything goes" environment, so I will take note of that.

04-15-02, 02:25 PM
Originally posted by Orpheus42
Question: Because Stryper was secular and went back to secular, and did not necessarily embrace Christian values during their career, does that make the songs themselves from the Christian period less valuable?

Well, I guess to me it does. It might not be right, or fair of me to think this way, but sincerety is important.

I would tend to view it with the same skepticism that I view so many evangelists who ask for our money. Personally, I think churches should be taxed and that would help keep their books a little more honest. ( a little more- I suppose they could enlist Arthur Anderson to do their accounting).

I think they cheapen their own message by showing that their hearts either weren't really in it, or they were pursuing some sort of "angle" for the sake of popularity and money.

But point taken- as I have said so many times, I am a terribly flawed person, but I can sometimes still be a useful vessel for the Lord. Just like so many others in the Bible who were sinners but were saved. I will chew on what you've said a little more.

I will check out your reference....
Do you think I might be able to find something from this band on Morpheus? (smile)

04-15-02, 02:30 PM
A good topic! What makes music metal and more specifically... is "heavenly metal" even possible. I have been into metal for a fair amount of time... so I think I can give a semi-informed opinion anyways. As for what makes music metal? I think it is a combination of factors. On a more technical musical side... I would say that there are a couple things. The chord progressions I think right away are a huge factor. Nice minor bluesy and classically influenced music I think is a big root of many great and powerful metal tunes (people may disagree with me on this one... but I have used this stuff in my own songs). Obviously the actual sounds of the instruments (hugely distorted guitars, thundering bass and insane drum playing) play a major role in its classification. I think Ardra raises a good point when he said attitude... there does seem to be a certain attitude associated with metal... but again... it's not the only factor. So as for what makes music metal... lots and lots of factors... and what one person considers metal... someone else may not.

Onto what I'm more interested in talking about though... is heavenly metal possible. I say yes... it is. Ardra, that experience you had with Stryper is unfortunate because I agree pretty much agree with your statements... and there are many "Christian" metal bands with questionable motives. I was introduced to a band called Tourniquet years ago... and they have become a great influence and inspiration for me. They write good songs with hard hitting lyrics which often use allegorical references so you have to think a little to understand what they are actually referring to (kind of like the parables). On top of that... they have great metal tunes! Their drummer is awesome... he's been a drumming inspiration ever since I started listening... and their songs themselves really have some great chord progressions and stuff in them. Actually, many of the songs are inspired by classical composers like Beethoven, Scarlatti and Paganini... which also strikes a chord within me because I've played the piano for 9 years now. I'm kind of digressing. I do think that it's possible for metal tunes to be Christian and uplifting. I really believe the core of music and as to which way it leans (dark/light) is all contained within the words. The words are what makes a song uplifting and inspirational... or depressing and suicidal. It's all in the words. That's my quick and probably somewhat disjointed reply... hehe. God bless...


04-15-02, 02:33 PM
I agree, it does hurt the witness if you know the bigger picture. That's why it's so important for us as witnesses for Christ to attempt to live as blamelessly as possible, because our actions DO hurt our witness. If the music existed in a vacuum, then the artists could do whatever and it wouldn't matter, but just as Jan and Dean lived out their music (Dead Man's Curve was a song that became prophetic!), just as Metallica, Black Sabbath, Tupac, and many other performers have lived out their music, so must Christian musicians live up to the standards about which they sing. In the case of Stryper, I would say that the music itself is Christian, but the obvious flaws of the performers hurt the witness in much the same way as televangelists. I pray God will keep me from such things as I pursue my career, because I know that I am far from perfect...

You should be able to find some stuff, I found some on Audiogalaxy and it's been my experience that Morpheus is better. :)

I recommend these songs for starters:

Big Bad Wolf
I Just Know
By God
Not Rock Stars
God of Elijah
You are Here
A Thousand Things <----- my favorite power ballad of all time

And that's just for a starter's course ;)

Peace, Love, and Jesus Christ,


04-15-02, 03:35 PM
I posted this on one of the numerous threads I'm suddenly involved in (hehe).

I have at my own website a "Celebrity Deathmatch" as it were between 20 of the most famous metal vocalists. It's pure comedy and was lots of fun to create.

It's not profane or hopefully, not objectionable, so I will post the link here if that's ok:


Also you can see pix of me as the humble narrator.

Chris B
04-20-02, 12:25 PM
The lines that seperate the genres of any medium are very blurry. And, most groups will draw elements from several different genres. Metal is an aggressive music, but rather than say it is driven by fear and anger, I'd say it is driven by intense energy of any sort... a strong love for the Lord, for example.

I saw stryper live in concert less than a year ago (!). They lost the make-up, are sober, and living for Christ! I do think it is a shame that many of their songs were nullified by their lifestyles, though. I think they got caught up trying to fit in with the secular bands they were playing with... something that makes me nervous whenever I look at groups like P.O.D., putting their name on questionable movies and tours (Ozz Fest)... I pray they don't get caught up like Stryper trying to impress the world.

I like what I've heard of Disciple (which isn't much).

I'm not sure this is metal, but if you like metal (and rap), you might like one of my favorite groups ever: Pillar http://www.pillarmusic.com they have a few samples on their website (no need to steal :) ) Also check out Junker Jorg http://www.junkerjorg.com

As far as file sharing programs go (Morpheus), please be very careful that you do not steal somebody's hard work. If you do download something, and you like it, then pay for it... otherwise throw it away. Be cool, don't steal :cool:

To Hell With The Devil,
<>< Chris ><>