Blast beats rip through the walls of the venue. The energy is palpable. The ground shakes as guitars chug and vocals pierce the sky. Kids crowd-surf and form mosh pits as the adrenaline pumps through the building.
If you know me, you know how much I love metal. It’s a commonly misunderstood genre, to say the least. Historically, a lot of people (especially religious people) have condemned metal as an outlet for magic and the occult, as well as a haven for drugs and alcohol. But that’s any genre of music, to be honest.
Christian bands have quietly and slowly taken over the metalcore scene and thrust the Gospel out there through lyrics. Many of them constantly sell out concert venues across the globe and sell thousands of records. Yet, they are consistently ignored by both the mainstream media and even most Christian radio stations. Bands in this scene become popular through underground or indie labels and then spread by word of mouth on internet message boards or other outlets.
I love metal because the lyrics are honest and oddly beautiful, even if most of them are screamed. Bands like August Burns Red, Texas in July, and We Came as Romans have inspired me and helped my life philosophies. You hear numerous stories of teenagers putting down hypodermic needles, pipes, blades and pills because of certain bands that they listen to. You hear about girls who starve themselves because they aren’t told that they’re beautiful – but then a band’s lyrics speak to them personally and affirm their self-worth.
When you look at the crowd at a metalcore concert, you see a lot of tattoos, pierced lips, and people that don’t exactly look like the type you’d wanna have for Thanksgiving dinner. Some come from strong families with good values; many do not. Many of them wouldn’t be caught dead at a church service. Many have experimented with hard drugs, booze, self-harm, and everything in between. This is an unfiltered view of this world.
But the beauty of it is how God works at these shows. Amid all the crowd-surfing, moshing, and slam-dancing, there remains a message of positivity and hope. Many of these kids have looked for love, contentment, and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Most have been rejected by societal institutions, including the church. But along come metal bands that speak to our condition as broken humans and provide the lasting happiness that can come through Christ.
I thrive at metal concerts. Amidst all the on-stage insanity, God is working. You don’t need a charismatic preacher, an altar call, or anything like that to bring people closer to God. You just need a message and a venue to do it in. I’d much rather be at a hardcore concert than at a revival service. You get to see real, ordinary musicians communicate God’s redemption on stage in a non-pushy, gentle way. And the offer is always open to delve deeper into the lyrics and discover the true meaning behind them.