Thy Kingdom Come combines heavy metal with sermonizing in Texas.
Heavy metal and religion have always had a tight-knit (if sometimes fraught) relationship. Sure, many bands are secular, but the imagery — particularly the skulls, pentagrams, upside-down crosses — of early metal evoked a religious or anti-religious sentiment. Some genres are even more devoted to one religious idea or another. Black metal often features pagan or Satanic lyrics, while unblack metal takes a more pro-Christian stance. Folk metal is heavily influenced by pagan and mythological themes. There’s even Jewish metal and Muslim metal.
There’s also Christian metal, which makes some people think of Stryper or, more recently, P.O.D. As we’ve discussed before on Backward Messages, heavy metal music itself is akin to religion for many fans, so it makes sense to combine this intense, enveloping, thrilling music with lyrics that speak to the divine — whatever your experience of the divine may be.
In Corpus Christi, Texas, St. John’s Church, a Methodist ministry, hosts a heavy metal service. Behind the pulpit is Thy Kingdom Come, a metalcore band which sings — and screams — Jesus’ message. Since metal often appeals to misfits, putting metal into the church makes sense if you want to bring those misfits back into the fold:
“We go to a lot of Christian metal shows and we saw all these people who didn’t go to church because they were judged,” said [David] Pallotti. “That’s not what church is supposed to be.”
He said the service reaches out to the tattooed, the outcasts or those who feel they have no other place to go.
So far, it’s working, according to regular attendees:
“It’s life changing to be here,” she said. “There is something about the feeling you get. I guess that’s what they mean when they say the presence of God. It’s just so touching.”
Bringing Christian metal into the church raises some interesting questions. For example, there are people who say that all heavy metal is evil. There are others who study whether kids actually listen to the lyrics. Can heavy metal convey a Christian message if you don’t listen to the words? Is it the music or the lyrics that make heavy metal “Satanic”? Does this music belong in church?