Before I finished my intensive outpatient program at the psychiatric hospital, I had to fill out a worksheet that was sort of a plan of action: list three individuals whom I would contact if suicidal ideation came back, list ten coping mechanisms for me to implement when I have problems, and list all things that would act as triggers for me.
Some triggers that I listed included people (the lady who I used to be infatuated with), places (the bar where I had carried out my plan), and things (music).
“Music?” the counselor had asked, perusing my worksheet.
“Yes. Certain kinds.”
“Such as…?” He lowered his glasses a bit and peered at me from the top of them, eyebrows raised.
“Just some types of metal.” I didn’t want him to know exactly. I needed my music. It was a coping mechanism!
“Scott. Spill it.” The counselor was a former drill sergeant in the army, so the next step probably would have involved shouting.
“Okay. Black metal.” There it was, out in the open. People unfamiliar with this subgenre usually assume it involves the musicians’ skin color.
The counselor continued staring at me. Explain! his eyes were saying.
“It’s, uh, dark, gloomy, and anti-Christian.” I averted my eyes from his.
“Scott, you are Catholic. Why would you listen to that?”
I wanted to tell him that black metal lyrics were usually written in Norwegian or Swedish, so I couldn’t understand them anyway. I wanted to tell him that I connected with the raspy vocals, insane drum beats and eerie walls of guitar noise. I wanted to tell him that the inverted crosses and pentagrams were purely for shock value. But I didn’t.
After I was released from the outpatient program, I quickly lost all desire to listen to black metal. Is it truly satanic? Is it anti-Christian? Is it steeped in pre-Christian Scandinavian paganism? Yes, yes, and yes.
Am I being judgmental like the fundamentalists who burn virtually all kinds of records in bonfires? No.
Sounds like it to me.
Well, then here would be my (hypothetical) response: In any search engine, enter the term ‘black metal,’ then look at the satanic imagery, scan some of the lyrics, and read about the beliefs, practices, and/or criminal acts of a lot of these bands.
It’s not judgmental if it’s fact.
Anyway, last night I received a brief text from a friend with whom I have had zero contact with for the past year. He’s extremely intelligent, has a high-paying job in the IT industry, and is a loving husband and father of two.
Besides the latter point, we also
have had one other thing in common: We both loved extreme metal including black and death — and other sub-subgenres that I’d rather not get into.
Hey, Scott. How are you doing?
It was good to hear from him, so I happily replied.
Then another text from him: Do you want to meet me at the Slayer* show next month?
Uh-oh. One of my all-time favorite metal bands (up until 12 months ago) was touring again?! Then I tried reasoning with myself: Slayer has been around forever. The members are all fathers, and the band has become so commercialized. They sell Christmas ornaments with the band logo on them, for cryin’ out loud!
Looking back, I can’t believe that I had considered it. Commercial or not, stage theatrics or not, stepping into the world of Slayer, even for just a few hours, would take me back to that dark, miserable place inside my head.
Not to mention the fact that the band still uses satanic imagery:
I politely declined, and we mentioned that it would be good to meet up again at some point. I felt a bit guilty, though.
There are two reasons why I stopped listening to certain types of metal:
1. It damages my relationship with God.
Being a Christian means dying to self and living for Christ. He has a special plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). In order for God’s will to be done in our lives, we have to give ourselves over to Him.
Black metal — and other types of extreme metal — has turned me off because it goes against everything that God desires for me.
I don’t want to befriend someone who is constantly talking bad about my wife. When a person begins to know the joy and riches of the Lord’s grace, worldly desires pale in comparison.
2. It damages me.
In my very first computer class back in college, one of the first things we learned was GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). I used to be so confused as to believe that the darker the music, the more it would make me stronger. That was a lie straight from the depths of hell. The music and the live shows were feeding my negative thinking, and I didn’t even realize it.
The forces of evil are powerful indeed. Don’t open yourself up to its influence. Personally, I don’t want to be antisocial and depressed anymore. Believe it or not, some people actually do want to be miserable; I know because I used to hang out with them.
In closing, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Bible passages:
…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus… (Hebrews 12: 1-2)
* Slayer is considered a thrash metal band.