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Christian Heavy Metal – Music for the Broken

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91:1-2

I’ve been a fan of hard rock and heavy metal since I was a kid in the 70s, and now being in my 50s, it seems my love of it hasn’t waned at all. In fact, my tastes, while expanding to include everything from folk to worship, sometimes cater more to the extreme in metal.

Having written about this before, please forgive me for a short back story:

I sang in a Christian heavy metal band for a short while, and then recorded a demo in the 90s. Nothing ever happened with our band, Hallow Road, but my son, Trey—now 20—grew up listening to it. He is now the drummer in his own band, Sacred Throne, and they played their first two gigs this weekend, and blew the audience away.

Sacred Throne Live Shot

I’m not just saying that because my son and his buddies are in the band; ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you.

My first book of testimonies, We Whom The Darkness Could Not Overcome, was released almost one year ago, and I’ve been thinking for a while now that I’d like to merge my ministry to the spiritually/emotionally/physically broken and disenfranchised with my love of heavy metal, but I had no clue how to do that.

Fast forward to this weekend. I walked in the door of the festival and felt the Lord speaking to me:

“Your second book of testimonies should be from people in heavy metal ministry.”

I mentioned my idea to Jake Martin, lead singer of the brutal Christian metal band Taking the Head of Goliath, and he thought it was a killer idea. So did Luke Renno, the bassist. I casually mentioned it to my buddy Dave Kruse, who has his own Christian heavy metal internet show, and within an hour he sent me an ad he’d worked up (all on his own, mind you), telling people in this ministry that, if they have a testimony they feel is worth hearing, to get hold of my via email.

I guess there’s no turning back now!

I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of all this, honestly. Trey will tell you I’m nothing but encouraging to him, with not one jealous bone in my body. I’m proud to be a Sacred Throne “band dad!”

Sacred Thone and Me

One thing I was reminded of this weekend, however, is just how broken so many of the people who listen to this style of music really are. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard people say they struggled with depression, anxiety and drugs, and/or attempted suicide, until they found their identity in Jesus Christ. They felt His love and mercy, and there was no going back.

But what does God do with a radical metal-head once that man or woman comes into the fold of Christ-followers? Does He ask them to change their musical style to worship music, or some other form of mellow music?

Well, to be honest, some people feel like this is the right move for them, if metal is too stark a reminder of their “former life.” Many of us, though, discover the exciting and brutal world of Christian metal. Oh, we’re still BROKEN, but now we’re more akin to cracked pottery (no “crackpot” jokes allowed!) which has been repaired by the Master Potter. You can still see the cracks, but we are being mended a little more every day.

But our hearts are still with the broken, bruised, downtrodden and depressed. We feel a kinship with those the world dubs as “losers,” because that was us once. The trials we’ve suffered are showcased, to be certain, but there’s HOPE IN CHRIST! This is our story…this is our song.

Jake, Zakk and Me

There’s a sense of family in Christian heavy metal which is hard to explain. But if you’re at one of the shows, the feeling is real and alive. It’s perfect for my blood family because we’re all huggers, and there’s a lot of love at a Christian metal show. They still mosh, for sure, but when they knock a brother or sister down, three or four people come running to pick them up.

“You ok?” they’ll scream over the music.

If the person responds “yes,” they laugh and start moshing again. Yeah, I guess it doesn’t make sense if you haven’t done it, but that’s cool.

That brokenness also comes glaring through the lyrics. I can relate to these songs because I traversed the valleys of chronic pain, depression and suicide for so long. The hope comes in the fact that Jesus is our Savior, and we’ve discovered a sense of peace not found anywhere else.

See if you can relate to any of the lyrics from the following bands (who all preformed at the Chains Unchained Festival this weekend, where Sacred Throne made their debut), but please note the hope which shines through in every song. Like shuffling through a dark tunnel, the only directional source being a pinprick of light at the very end:

“We Are Yours”
By Theody

We are broken
We are bleeding
But tonight we are beautiful
We have messed up but you still believe in us

“Knockout”
By The Protest

Feels like I’m swimming with the sharks
Like I’m drowning in the dark
There’s a pounding in my heart
And it never leaves

I was born to fight this fight
The battles buried in my bones
You can throw your sticks and stones
I’m not gonna break

“Graveyard of Identities”
By Gold Frankincense & Myrrh (GFM)

Starve yourself, fake a smile, avoid people
Cry, die a little, and then repeat
Starve yourself, fake a smile, avoid people
Cry, die a little, and then repeat

The prettiest smile hides the deepest secrets
The brightest eyes have cried the most tears
The kindest hearts have felt the most pain
I’m not the same girl, pain changed me

We are a new breed rising
With a fire in our eyes
We don’t fear anything
Because we’ve already died
I’ve shed my skin so many times

Graveyards are full of those I used to be
Some are born with tragedy in their blood
I need a different identity

“Bloodshed”
By Bred 4 War

Look around at this dying world
People taking their own lives
So much hurt in their hearts
Every second they are falling apart

Rise up, break free
Come form, accept him
Rise up, break free
In Jesus’ name you are free today

“This Present Darkness”
By Taking the Head of Goliath

Pain, rage, hate, we become our own worst enemies
In a realm unseen by moral eyes a war is waged
Mankind driven insane, evil forces whisper lies, manipulate
Doubt, dread, confusion
We fall victim to our own ruin
Without warning, skin begins crawling
Chaos consuming, the face in the mirror deforming

Seized by distress, revulsion
Bound and taken captive into desolation
Panicked impulse constricts these chains
Beneath the weight of our burden we suffocate

My soul screams for escape!

“Least of These”
By Bred 4 War

You’re not alone, take a look around
People are dying all over this town
The painful, the hurting, addicted, and bound
Their silent screams do make a sound

I recommend we put out our hand
Start loving the heart of our fellow man
Break out of chains and free the slaves
Or swallowed by death and defeated by graves

Feed the hungry, help the hurting
By loving people, not deserting
Open your heart, I pray for thee
It’s time to help the least of these

“These Last Moments”
By Absent from the Body

Carry this weight
The whole world on my shoulders
Problems of all I face
The hurt, the anger
Misplaced fear I take away

The filth in our veins
The sorrow that man brings
Create in me a clean heart O God
Erase all of these

I feel I would miss an opportunity if I also didn’t share with you lyrics from my demo:

“Wicked Nightmares”
By Hallow Road

It’s in the black of darkness
I’m widowed by the light
I have not one escape to shield me from the fear of night
Hiding in the shadows
Frustrating tears and sweat
I clench my fist and shout into this netherworld abyss

Screams are rather tainted
Born in Satan’s womb
No dragon’s skin is worth this dungeon tomb

Jesus save me from these wicked nightmares
Because I have never been so scared
I see the power of the wise
And the beauty in their eyes
Lord I pray you breathe you love on me
Breathe your love on me

Yes, we’re still broken, but Jesus is the glue which holds us together. He’s the light in a world smothered by darkness. One of the lyrics on my Hallow Road demo said, “Jesus is the reason that I’m not insane.” He’s also the reason I’m not dead. Not even kidding.

So it is with the warrior spirit of Christ we thrust our swords into the darkness. Or, better put:

I heard a gravel voice over my shoulder
A straining whisper – a defiant plea
A fallen demon was calling on the heavens
“Please, Creator God, have mercy on me!”

(From “Me and the Devil,” by Hallow Road)

Sacred Throne Blog Pic

This entry was posted in Pain.

10 comments on “Christian Heavy Metal – Music for the Broken

  1. rus34yahoocom says:

    This could be my story as well! Thanks for writing what I feel and wish I could convey to people that see a 54 year old man going to these shows.
    I love the Christian Rock and Metal community!

    Like

    1. Rob Weddle says:

      It’s hard to explain, isn’t it? People look at you surrounded by young people, flailing themselves around to heavy music, and it just doesn’t seem to make sense for somebody our age. It’s impossible to explain, but you and I get it. Thanks so much for the feedback! Blessings.

      Like

  2. Ashlee G says:

    I absolutely love this. As a Christian myself and a rock/heavy metal fan, this is so encouraging in many ways. I highly recommend (if you haven’t) look into XIII Minutes. Their songs, “Obsessed,” “Blue Flame,” and even their cover of “Reckless Love,” leaves you feel connected with the Lord like never before. All of these bands you listed above do such an amazing job of living for God and sharing his word through music. Thank you again for this article.

    Like

    1. Rob Weddle says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Ashlee. I have heard of XIII Minutes but have not listened to the music. I will have to check them out. When I was a kid we had Stryper, Petra and Rez Band and that was about it. Then Vengeance Rising came along and blew everyone’s perception of “Christian heavy metal.” Since then the genre has just gotten better and better. Pretty awesome.

      Like

  3. David G says:

    Reading this blessed me sooo much and I can truly relate to it all.

    Like

    1. Rob Weddle says:

      Thanks for the feedback, David, I’m so glad you were blessed.

      Like

  4. Brock Pickens says:

    Love this!!! Exactly how I feel about our bros & sisters in Christ through the metal scene! Jesus helped heal this soul with Christian metal! Now I can enjoy the music, worship Jesus, and witness to others daily because of the boldness it has helped me develop! I was a broken man…been to prison, almost lost my life in a fight I was stabbed in 18 times, lost a younger bro in motorcycle accident at age 20 whom I was very close to, wrestled with sex and drug addictions, and been divorced! But God is gracious and merciful! He has redeemed me! Gave me a sense of purpose and direction! Jesus wins!!-

    Like

    1. Rob Weddle says:

      Wow, you’ve been through a lot, bro. It’s almost reassuring to find so many broken people in metal, because it not only fosters a sense of family in the Christian metal community, but it allows Christ to shine through all the darkness we’ve suffered. On the back cover of my book is a quote which occurred to me just before it went to press: “Sometimes, the light of Christ shines brightest when it bleeds through the cracks of a broken heart.” Thanks for your honesty and never-say-die spirit, brother!

      Like

  5. Danny Cribbs says:

    Hey, Rob..what’s going on, brother? Wow!! While I have been reading this tears are pouring down my face because this story is me to a tee. I think of the two songs by Tourniquet that I so identify with, “Bearing Gruesome Cargo” and “Broken Chromosomes”. I’m still dealing with anger, depression, and anxiety due to a long past relationship with a close relative (my biological mother to be exact). I have been going to God about this forgiveness that I haven’t done towards HER therefore I would say is probably the reason I haven’t had closure over her death (she passed away due to melanoma in 2003) or have feelings that sometimes God may not be listening to me at that time. For me, and I’ve also been on the Christian Metal ministry for on and off about 25 years, this music has been a great release. I have been living in Tampa for the past 11 years and I have gotten involved with this really great church here. They all know my background and are not judgmental of it. Actually, most of them are or have been praying about me. Anyway, just wanted to say this article spoke my thoughts exactly. Thank you for blessing me with this message 😇

    Like

    1. Rob Weddle says:

      Thanks so much, bro! I greatly appreciate your honesty. Through my son’s involvement in the scene as a drummer for the Christian prog-thrash band Sacred Throne, God opened a door for me in Christian heavy metal ministry. I have written one book, “We Whom The Darkness Could Not Overcome” (available through Amazon, although please don’t misinterpret this as a sales pitch) and had no clue what the second book should be about. When I walked into the Chains Unchained Festival in Aurora, MO a few weeks ago, however, which was Sacred Throne’s first gig, I knew my second book needed to be testimonies from “bands and fans” of Christian heavy metal. Some think it’s some type of “holy rebellion,” like we refuse to give up our old, sinful ways, but they don’t realize how the Lord is using this type of music to not only encourage Christians, but minister to Non-Christians as well. All that being said, so sorry for all you’ve been through, man, but it sounds like you’ve found a great church family to support you. The enemy is a master at chipping away at our armor until we feel totally exposed, but we keep fighting in the might name of Jesus! Regarding those two Tourniquet songs you mentioned, they both REALLY get me, as well. I guess it doesn’t make much sense to some, but that’s ok, it’s not for them, it’s for us. I sent you a friend request on Facebook, by the way. Good to get in contact with you, and thanks again for taking the time to comment!

      Like

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