Why do the majority of heavy metal bands feel the need to bash religion?

#1
I got into heavy metal around a year ago, and I must say, as a Catholic, it's a shame that the majority of heavy metal bands bash religion, especially the best ones. Something in the lyrics here and there I don't mind, but when you go to a show and they have a bunch of inverted crosses on the stage, it's pretty stupid to have, especially if there are Christians in the crowd. Not all metal fans are atheists. I was going to buy a ticket for a Slayer tour show but after seeing a bunch of live shows on YouTube, almost half of them have a bunch of inverted crosses on stage, which makes me feel like i'd be at a church of Satan rally or something. I get that they do it to piss people off/seem hardcore, but there are many other ways they can seem hardcore without all of that nonsense.

Slayer, Exodus, Kreator, Venom; I can go on for ages. It's standard for many great bands to do it.
#2
Quote by Granata
Not all metal fans are atheists.
Most are. Or they are like me and are very anti-religion but aren't necessarily atheists. They have their personal reasons for their disapproval of organized religion, and you have you reasons for being a Catholic. The anti-religion viewpoint historically is something I imagine comes from Punk mostly. That's really all there is to it.
Last edited by Ironic Maiden at Apr 25, 2015,
#3
Quote by Ironic Maiden
Most are. Or they are like me and are very anti-religion but aren't necessarily atheists. They have their personal reasons for their disapproval of organized religion, and you have you reasons for being a Catholic. The anti-religion viewpoint historically is something I imagine comes from Punk mostly. That's really all there is to it.


Only thing that pisses me off are extremists and people who try to jam religion down your throat. I find those to be especially annoying. I see what you're saying, though. I would have bought the tickets if I knew for a fact that they weren't going to have the inverted crosses on their stage. I own the "God Hates Us All" album, but I refuse to go to a show with inverted crosses, which is a shame 'cause Slayer is freaking awesome.
#5
Quote by Helloween4Ever
did u no that a dood from slayer is religion


Really curious as to what Tom defines religion as. That's a helluva interesting question to ask him.
#6
Dude the whole inverted cross/satanic imagery are nothing more than show pieces, it's the for the same reason why Alice Cooper wears makeup or GWAR dress up as aliens (JK we all know they're real aliens), because it looks evil and shit. I guarantee you while most of these bands are probably non religious, if you were to ask them for their viewpoint they'd probably say something like "whatever floats ya boat". With Black Sabbath, Iommi wears a cross pendant not because of religion, but because he loves things to do with occult and it's like a good luck charm for him.

You're taking the whole religion in metal thing too seriously dude, who cares if they have an inverted cross on stage? It's not like they're trying to spread the word of satan or spit in the face of religion, it's just part of the act. Heck, Nergal from Behemoth used to tear bibles on stage, yet when asked about religion he said he hopes Christianity never dies, and that's a huge inspiration in his work and his life. Take it for what it is man, if you're so offended by some mild anit religion imagery that you won't even go to a show you'll otherwise love; then that's your problem, not the band's.

BTW for every band that does the whole anti religion thing, I could think of a hundred bands that don't, some thrash bands and most black metal bands do it, but most bands in general don't give a shit.
Last edited by Jimjambanx at Apr 25, 2015,
#7
Well, there are several reasons, I guess :

It's kind of an image thing.
I always wondered if this and stuff like the felt omnipresence of "satanic" symbolism started out as a sarcastic answer to fundamental christians calling metal the devil's music and whatnot (imagine the same reaction during the jazz craze. Our grandparents' vinyl collection would look a lot more badass!)

Also, atheism has been kind of trendy for a while now.
A lot of people think bashing major religions will make them look more sophisticated and smart.
Along the lines of "Hey, I'm SO educated and wise, I'm WAY beyond religions. Religion is so 1800-late".
This might apply more to the fans than the bands themselves, though.

And I guess, for a lot of bands, it's just a way to get back at the Catholic church for being a bunch of bigots.
#8
Quote by AnotherArsonist
Well, there are several reasons, I guess :

It's kind of an image thing.
I always wondered if this and stuff like the felt omnipresence of "satanic" symbolism started out as a sarcastic answer to fundamental christians calling metal the devil's music and whatnot (imagine the same reaction during the jazz craze. Our grandparents' vinyl collection would look a lot more badass!)

Also, atheism has been kind of trendy for a while now.
A lot of people think bashing major religions will make them look more sophisticated and smart.
Along the lines of "Hey, I'm SO educated and wise, I'm WAY beyond religions. Religion is so 1800-late".
This might apply more to the fans than the bands themselves, though.

And I guess, for a lot of bands, it's just a way to get back at the Catholic church for being a bunch of bigots.


I also think it's has to do a bit with the notion that of all the shit and wrongdoing in this world that some minor anti religion show pieces should be an insignificant spec of your worries, and that those who commit acts of greed and bigotry and bash metal for anti religious is kind of hypocritical.
#9
Quote by AnotherArsonist
Along the lines of "Hey, I'm SO educated and wise, I'm WAY beyond religions. Religion is so 1800-late".
This might apply more to the fans than the bands themselves, though.



Aaaanyway, being serious even though the millionth thread of this exact topic hardly merits it, it's a mixture of a lot of things:
  • Image
  • The feeling that, somehow or other, religion has ruined their culture (neopaganist black metal bands often cite that one)
  • A natural escalation of the fact that back in the '70s and '80s more extreme religious types were bent on banning every metal band under the sun
  • The view that religion has a negative influence on humanity
  • A general wish to have lyrics that match the music in their impact (and let's be real a lot of early metal bands missed here)
  • Because if you're being anti-establishment there's nothing like controversy to make you interesting... I think a lot of the Satan crap is somewhat tongue-in-cheek
And, I'm sure someone's already pointed this out, but lots of the lyrics, even among those that do have a clear focus on a religion, aren't just straight-up saying "religion is bad". There's usually more to it than that.
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#10
Quote by Jimjambanx
if you're so offended by some mild anit religion imagery that you won't even go to a show you'll otherwise love; then that's your problem, not the band's.


When did I say that I blame the band? I know it's my problem, and I refuse to go to a show like that. Lyrics are one thing, but blasphemous scenery isn't my cup of tea. You're acting like I'm demanding them to change their establishment of things, which I'm not; they can do what they want. I only asked why they do it, so please, take a chill pill.
Last edited by Granata at Apr 25, 2015,
#11
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Because if you're being anti-establishment there's nothing like controversy to make you interesting... I think a lot of the Satan crap is somewhat tongue-in-cheek


I think Slayer gets more than enough controversy just by that Reichsadler symbol they use LOL
#12
Quote by Jimjambanx
With Black Sabbath, Iommi wears a cross pendant not because of religion, but because he loves things to do with occult and it's like a good luck charm for him.

Um, actually, are you sure? If I recall correctly, most if not all of Black Sabbath are Christians, and ironically it was also obvious in some of the lyrics. Try "After Forever", for example. It's not an isolated case either, Tom Araya is apparently also religious. Deicide (if you're familiar with the topic I probably don't need to introduce the band ) had Ralph Santolla for a while as their guitarist, who is a practicing Catholic. There's more, but that's just from the top of my head.

Either way, this comes down to two issues: first of all, it is entirely possible to separate faith from image. Even back when I was religious (while I am not anymore, I am not an atheist), I always found the way metal criticises religion to be a good reason to question certain things. If your faith is strong and it is really what you feel is right, a bunch of angry dudes will not change your mind about it in the slightest. On the other hand, if they are enough to make you uncertain, it may be as good reason as any to make you think whether this is the place where you want to be. I might be sounding pretentious as hell but I think you get where I'm coming from. And then you can have bands which seem all "dark" and "evil", but in fact who just may want to challenge certain aspects of religion they disagree with, or they just have fun being "dark and evil" for a while. The same way Slayer or many thrash/death metal bands who like writing about serial killers probably aren't ones.

Second one which always felt like one of the key reasons to me:
The view that religion has a negative influence on humanity

Metal has more or less always been about individualism, freedom and such, so it's not surprising that it's against a phenomenon which has pretty much always been trying to control people. (Even as a religious person, I don't think you can disagree that Christianity has hardly been the supporter of individual freedom of any kind, same for other religions) Some bands don't take it that seriously, but from what I read in the interviews in case of the aforementioned Behemoth for example, that's one of the key factors, he even referred to philosophers like Nietzsche. So it's just quite logical that metal is not very fond of religion in many cases, just like it often criticises political systems, oppression and such.

So, just my take on the issue.
#13
Have you ever heard Dio's Don't Talk To Strangers? I've always interpreted the lyrics of that song as a criticism of religion in general. How many religious people say, "don't do this," or "don't do that" Listen to the lyric's and try to understand Dio's criticism against that.

Back when Metal was in it's formative years religion had strong hold on the minds of the parental generation, especially Christianity/Catholicism. A lot of kids grew up in these households with these parents who could often times be very restrictive about what their child was allowed to do... what music they listen to, how long their hair was, telling them not to drink alcohol or do drugs etc. For many of these parents, it was a hypocritical thing to do... Dad would get off work and polish off a six-pack before dinner while Mom stayed home dozed out on Doctor-prescribed anti-depressants. But hey, that's OK in their eyes because every Sunday they go to the house of the Lord and ask forgiveness.

The kids that grew up in these homes were often pretty aware of the hypocrisy, and most teenagers go through a rebellious streak where they try to do the opposite of what their parents do. So for those kids it was natural to listen to loud, offensive music and invert the crosses they'd been raised to worship.

Then, when Metal started getting more mainstream, you'd see these groups of bored Christian housewives rally and protest against Metal bands... in the 80's, everyone got it- from Ozzy and Judas Priest, to WASP and Twisted Sister- the whole PMRC fiasco, the accusations of bands using subliminal messaging or backwards masking Satanic verses in the music. All these things happened because some religious groups bone-headed idea to protest this music.

The big picture here, is that when Metal first started, it's the religious groups who made themselves the enemies of this music. Have you ever seen a SoCal thrash band show up and protest a Sunday Mass? Probably not. The religious groups are the one's who would protest the concerts and accuse the musicians of Satanic worship and virgin sacrifice, even though most of these guys were just getting drunk and high and playing guitar or whatever. Inverting the crosses and using pentagram's in album artwork was less "we worship Satan" and more "We are not Them!"


So, your question, "Why do the majority of heavy metal bands feel the need to bash religion?" is answered with another question. "Why did so many religious groups feel the need to bash metal music?"

Inverted cross, pentagrams and anti-religious messages were used in retaliation against the religious groups who were trying to limit the freedom of expression by these artists. That look became synonymous with the appeal of heavy metal.

So, since your a Catholic, let's just say that it's somewhat likely that your grandparents were being total assholes to Slayer when they first started as a band, and they started using using Inverted cross on stage to offend Grandma... and it worked so well, that to this day, they're still using them to offend YOU!
#14
Quote by Granata
When did I say that I blame the band? I know it's my problem, and I refuse to go to a show like that. Lyrics are one thing, but blasphemous scenery isn't my cup of tea. You're acting like I'm demanding them to change their establishment of things, which I'm not; they can do what they want. I only asked why they do it, so please, take a chill pill.


Will you got your answer, they do it because:
- It's cool to look evil and stuff on stage
- To challenge aspects of religion
- To encourage individualism
- To mock the religious extremists who once and still do bash metal and accuse it of promoting satanism

Have fun not going to shows because of a couple of inverted crosses that mean pretty much nothing, I'll take my chill pill and continue enjoying great shows.
#15
Quote by Granata
Only thing that pisses me off are extremists [...] but I refuse to go to a show with inverted crosses


Isn't not going to a show because there might be inverted crosses kind of extreme?
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#16
They do it because, let's face it, religion is dumb.
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#17
Quote by Granata
...of heavy metal bands bash religion, especially the best ones.

did you mean the best metal bands or that they bash the best religions?


anyways you probably got your answer in the rest of the posts..
#20
Ask some questions and then ask some more. I was kind of freaked out when i started listening to slayer as a kid around 15-16 just on the satanic ideas alone. but at the end of the day its the same as god. an idea that people came up with.

If it helps you sleep at night to be religious and improves your life in a positive way then good for you!. But NEVER try to push your values (I.e. don't eat pork, don't use birth control, don't have an abortion, etc, etc.) on people or commit violence using your faith as justification for your actions.
#21
"I've got nothing against Christianity. I support it, because it destroys so many people." - Niklas Kvarforth (Shining)
#22
Quote by Jimjambanx

Have fun not going to shows because of a couple of inverted crosses that mean pretty much nothing, I'll take my chill pill and continue enjoying great shows.


Lol, you're trying way too hard.

Quote by elatihc
did you mean the best metal bands or that they bash the best religions?



I meant the best metal bands, i.e. exodus, slayer, testament, etc.

Quote by theogonia777
Isn't not going to a show because there might be inverted crosses kind of extreme?


Do you know what an extremist is? Politically speaking.
Last edited by Granata at Apr 26, 2015,
#23
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