The Devil’s Music

by Bill Brenner on September 29, 2010

Some readers suggest my Faith and love of heavy metal music are an odd combination. Some of the rock crowd think my religious beliefs are at odds with the spirit of metal culture. Some of my church friends think metal is the devil’s music. You’re both wrong.

Mood music:

You’ve heard my story. Faith has been central to my recovery from OCD and addiction. Metal was there for me as a confused, tormented kid, wringing out just enough of the anger to keep me from doing very bad things.

Call me a whack job, but I’m pretty sure God put that music in my path to help me along, just as He puts certain people in my path today to help me along.

Sometimes I rely too much on the music and not enough on God to pull me through tough scrapes. I’m working on that.

I realize no two people are the same, and I may indeed be an anomaly. I’m a puzzling presence in other ways — a man of multiple personalities. My interest in politics and history don’t really fit the metal image, either.

But they are all tools in my arsenal of living.

I’ve been spending my Tuesday nights in planning meetings for an upcoming Cursillo retreat I’ll be on team for. During that weekend, I’ll be giving a talk on how study fits into my spiritual journey. Not study in the bookish sense, though that’s part of it. It’s more about study through experiencing things — the goodness of people who inspire me, the power of recovery and the purging of fear, and yes, metal WILL come up at some point. It’s too intertwined with the rest of the story. It’ll make for an interesting talk.

To those who call it the Devil’s music: True, there are bands that glorify evil, but most of it is just theatrics. You say metal has influenced murderers and suicides? Maybe. But I know of many evil people in history who were just as passionate about their Classical music, Jazz and Country-Western. If there’s evil in your soul, the musical tastes don’t matter. The evil you already had is what’ll make you do bad things. The Beatles’ “Blackbird” is a beautiful piece of music. But that beauty didn’t keep an asshole like Charles Manson from interpreting the lyrics to mean it was time to start a race war by killing white people and making it look like the Black Panthers did it.

I only know my personal truth: That my choice of music helped me through tough times and set me on a journey that grew more spiritual and grounded with time.

And besides, why the hell should Satan get all the good music?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bert Knabe September 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

I found your blog through repeated retweets by someone I follow. Some of the topics seemed interesting so I clicked on a link. Not even sure why I’m commenting, other than to say congratulations on making it this far. This particular post resonates with me because I was a troubled kid who listened to heavy metal, read sci-fi and fantasy and had a weird imagination. In a small Texas town in the 70’s it was a combination that assured I would at the least feel like I didn’t fit in. I don’t think my life was ever that bad, and I’m even more sure of it when I meet people like you who have had serious struggles.

I’m seeing a lot of wisdom even in the two or three posts I’ve read. I just wanted to say God bless you, and remember when you stumble that God won’t throw you away unless you refuse to let Him pick you up.

@Corum September 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Thirty years ago or so a Christian rocker named Larry Norman posed your closing question in song… Why should the Devil have all the good music?

Aaron Lewis September 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm

The belief that “metal” is the devel’s music is a sign of ignorance of the believer. As you said “It’s more about study through experiencing things”. The ignorant that refuse to “experience metal and simply brush it off as evil, learn nothing. If they were to actually experience it, they might find lots of good to be had. Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” and its denouncement of cocaine. Three Days Grace’s “Never too Late” with their claim that suicide is never the right choice no matter how bad it gets. Lastly, Queensryche’s entire album “Operation: Mindcrime” (yes, I know you introduced me to it) and its portrayal of evil-doing in general and how it never works out as planned because, ultimately, people are good. There are countless others. Some rely on music to relax, while others use it as a release. Either way, the outcome is the same; the music listener doesn’t tear someone’s head off.

joseph kelley September 29, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I think you are a good person and Ithink I will meet you sone JSK

Nick September 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Bill,
You “nailed this one on the head” for me. That’s one of my favorite songs by my All Time favorite Band! I believe Rock and Roll, and metal bands of the 70s through the early 90s have been a positive influence in my life and beneficial to my recovery from addictions. They also seem totally compatible with my devout Catholic faith. I’ve heard the same comments you have. It sure is good to hear my story from someone else. Good to know that I’m NOT “terminally unique”.
God bless!

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