Dr. Strangeglove: Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the devil music

Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity. [For the Strength of Youth]

When I was a young girl–what we today would call a “tween” but back then was just “girl”– we had one evening a gentleman over at our house whose reason for being there I don’t recall. It seems to me, in retrospect, that he was probably trying to sell my mother something, but I can’t imagine what it would have been because this is what I do remember about the evening: At one point he asked me what kind of music I liked to listen to. I said I liked the Beatles. (This was the early ‘80s, incidentally—I wouldn’t want you to make wildly inaccurate inferences about my age based on this one anecdote.[1]) This guy who was maybe a salesguy, maybe not, informed me that if you played Beatles songs backwards, you could hear subliminal messages about drugs and other unsavory things that the band put on there to corrupt the youth of the day, or something. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone play a record backwards?” and “I’m still going to listen to the Beatles.” Maybe-Salesguy then went on to give us examples of other bands whose songs said stuff about drugs and sex and Satanism when played backwards. He even borrowed our turntable and played some of my older sister’s records backwards to show us how very common this sort of thing was. I don’t remember what sinister message was behind Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” but suffice it to say it was apparently not just a harmless ditty about strength in solidarity. Who knew?

As I got older I heard other urban legends about “backward masking.” It was quite the thing for a while. Most of the rumors had to do with bands secretly worshiping Satan. Or not so secretly. A lot of artists chose to play into the Satanist image for kicks and giggles. There was that episode of “CHiP’s” where Ponch and Jon had to come to the rescue of a rising rock star played by Donny Most whose breakout single was a tune called “Devil Take Me” and he dressed in a crazy KISS-style jumpsuit and makeup and someone was trying to kill him with his own stage pyrotechnics. What any of this had to do with the highway, I don’t recall, but I think they may have even found a clue to the villain’s identity by playing Donny Most’s most recent musical tracks backwards. Or maybe I’m mixing up storylines from two different lame-ass cop shows of the era. I don’t know. The point is that subliminal-devil-messages-in-rock-music was a very popular and widespread rumor, if not terribly accurate or even realistic. [2] When I was in middle school I had some friends who were into the heavy metal and they swore that you could hear some freaky stuff when you played Ozzy Osbourne backwards. Again I thought, “Who plays records backwards?” but at the same time, I didn’t disbelieve them. I didn’t listen to heavy metal myself. It was a little too loud for my taste, and frankly, those guys kind of scared me. I mean, one look at those Iron Maiden album covers and it didn’t seem too much of a stretch that such people would like me to start worshiping the devil. (Seriously, have you ever looked at an Iron Maiden album? Creepy!)

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far away, my future eternal companion was growing his hair long and cutting his teeth on the bands I’d deemed too rough for my genteel ears—Metallica, Anthrax, and yes, Iron Maiden. ::shudder:: No Motley Crue because Motley Crue was for [men of dubious manliness]. I don’t reckon he played any of these guys backwards because he probably didn’t have anything on vinyl. (Brother J is a few years younger than I—as he likes to point out, he was in kindergarten in the ‘80s.[3]) He just liked the music. However, at some point during his high school years, he had a religious awakening and, having already cut his hair, decided that he needed to get rid of all his heavy metal albums because he didn’t think it was the right kind of music for a disciple of Christ to be listening to. (Well, would you invite Jesus over to listen to Black Sabbath? Would you?) Soon he would serve a mission and decide that he wasn’t ever going to watch The Simpsons again either. I think the no-Simpsons resolution only lasted a week or so post-mission, but as of the time he married me, he had not reintroduced any heavy metal into his musical diet.

However, when my husband was finishing graduate school—several years and a couple and a half kids into our marriage—he was listening to his internet radio station one day and he heard a song that kindled some nostalgia for his musically misspent youth. It was Manowar’s “Warriors of the World,” and although it sounded like it belonged in the late ‘80s, it was actually recorded in our current century. Brother J was so charmed by these gentlemen’s earnest head-banging ways that he was sucked back into the world he’d forsaken for righteousness’s sake—the metal universe. \m/ [Cue triumphant guitar lick]

That Manowar album was only the beginning.[4] He kept discovering new and more awesome metal bands—whole genres of metal he didn’t know existed—and he was…I’m sorry there’s not a more masculine word for it, but he was just so delighted. It was like a part of him had come alive again. As a teenager his enthusiasm for the gospel made him go a bit overboard when he purged his music collection, but now his re-born enthusiasm for metal was taking an evangelistic bent. He loved it so much, he just had to share it. Mostly with me. “You have to listen to this. It’s awesome.” And I confess that initially I was just humoring him, because that’s what wives do. I was not and had not ever been a “metal” kind of gal. I had also become fogey-ish before my time. I didn’t understand the music the young people were into these days. But I listened to Brother J’s new music because he was so excited about it, and eventually I had to admit that he was right. It was awesome. Undeniably, it rocked, but more than that, it was vibrant and earnest. Completely over the top, but at the same time, totally sincere. The theme of “Warriors of the World” is “fighting for metal that is true.” Which sounds like a joke, but these guys play it straight. Because someone’s got to, damn it. If they don’t fight for true metal, who will? To paraphrase a better music journalist than I, the best metal should leave you wondering if these people are serious–because there’s just no point in doing this crap half-way. No guts, no glory. You have to respect that. Well, I have to.

There are so many different kinds of metal. Tolkien metal. Viking metal. Scottish pirate metal. Japanese folklore metal. Unfortunately, the limitations of this post prevent me from exploring all the nuances of the genre. I can only give you a rough sampling of metal that is true.

There’s Blind Guardian, the German metal band that was a pioneer in power metal. Their earlier work is more speed and thrash metal, but they eventually moved toward a more prog-metal sound, incorporating orchestral arrangements and layered backing vocals (a la Queen). They wrote a concept album based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion (Night Falls on Middle Earth). [5] They also wrote the most badass song about Peter Pan ever.

The first metal concert Brother J dragged me to was Nightwish, the symphonic metal band from Finland, whose primary songwriter is heavily influenced by film music and fantasy novels. Originally they were fronted by a classically trained lyric soprano with a three-octave range, but by the time we saw them they had dumped her prima donna can in favor of a pop-style vocalist. [6] I had some trepidation. I was, by this time, quite old. (Thirty-six.) Much too old, I thought, to be going to metal concerts. I was a mom, for Pete’s sake. But it meant a lot to my husband, so I put on my fingerless gloves and my gun necklace and my bad eyeliner and I went, and IT WAS AWESOME. [7] The highpoint of the evening was when they sang “7 Days to the Wolves,” a song about wolves coming to devour the village. Perhaps you did not fully grasp the import of what I just told you. The song is about wolves coming to eat us. It doesn’t get any more hardcore than that.

A lot of metal singers don’t sing so much as growl—a vocal style I’m not particularly fond of, but occasionally it just works. For example, the folk metal band Eluveitie (of Switzerland), features a growling vocalist but also a violin and a badass chick playing the hurdy-gurdy. I reiterate: Hurdy. Gurdy. There are two kinds of people in this world—those who listen to the following and think, “Well, gosh, that sounds just awful,” and those who think, “Is that a hurdy-gurdy? I HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED.”

For some reason many of the best metal bands come from Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries. [8] Say what you will about those godless socialists, but they could head-bang the crap out of other countries. (Maybe because all that family leave and vacation gives them time to develop their craft?) However, one American-grown epic metal band that we enjoy is Iced Earth, who wrote a suite of songs about the Battle of Gettysburg. [9] It doesn’t just rock. It educates.

My mother-in-law does not approve of my husband’s taste in music. She thinks it’s quite irresponsible of him to expose the children to such coarseness and raucousness. I don’t know. When my younger son was 15 months old, he used to clamor for System of a Down’s “B.Y.O.B.” the way other kids beg for Barney. Maybe that’s not right. (Or maybe it’s so wrong it’s right.) When my older son was four, he used to go to sleep every night listening to the soothing sounds of Rhapsody of Fire, an Italian band that sings epic songs centered in high fantasy and the everlasting battle between good and evil. My son was inspired to write his own heavy metal song, which he had the foresight to sing into a portable recording device, and thus we were able to preserve it in our iTunes folder for posterity. The song is called “Blood to the Death,” and much of it is unintelligible (owing to the underdeveloped verbal skills of four-year-olds), but I can tell you that it involves Vikings and cheetahs, as well as “fruits of the spirit” (he went to a Christian pre-school), and it borrows heavily from this song. (And yes, that is Christopher Lee narrating. Christopher Lee, like my son, has excellent taste in metal.)

Speaking of Rhapsody of Fire, when my husband had an unexpected windfall a couple years ago, he decided to splurge on VIP tickets for us to see Rhapsody of Fire. So when we were hanging out with the band after the concert, we were discussing –well, my husband and the Rhapsody guys were discussing, I was mainly just listening because I’m painfully awkward in social situations—the local metal scene, and my husband was saying that unfortunately most Portland metalheads seem to be into the black metal, and one of the guys said something to the effect that he didn’t like black metal, that it was too dark, that there was something almost “evil” about it—whereas he and his bandmates tried to do stuff that was more positive. And I was like, “Preach it, Rhapsody dude. [\m/]” Well, I didn’t actually say it, but I think my supportive nod implied it.

I like to think our family only listens to the ennobling sort of metal, but I’m well aware there are others who would disagree—and not just old spoilsports like my MIL. [10] What I find awesome and life-affirming they might find dark and evil. They might find it drives away the spirit. I confess there are some artists that my husband and teenage daughter like that I don’t care for. They might make me do the Marge Simpson growl, but mostly because I’m uncomfortable and not because I’m convinced they’re being spiritually corrupted. Because if there’s one thing my late-in-life metal immersion has taught me, it’s this:

Iron Maiden is actually kind of awesome.


[1] I did have a big crush on Paul McCartney, despite the fact that he was 29 years older than me. But he was younger then than I am now, which kind of freaks me out.

[2] Ponch knew about it. Where were you?

[3] 1980. He’s not that much younger.

[4] Brother J has informed me that he would like to have this song played at his funeral. Also, you haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard Manowar’s rendition of “Nessun Dorma.”

[5] They’ve also done some hardcore covers, including this gem. (Trigger warning: Clowns.)

[6] For a sampling of Tarja Turunen’s vocal stylings, listen to this.

[7] Those items were only mine because Brother J bought them for me. I did not have them lying around the house. Well, now I do, of course. I’ve never been good at putting on eyeliner, though. At least now I have an excuse for wearing it like that.

[8] Fun fact: Finland is often called the metal capital of the world.

[9] Guitarist and chief songwriter Jon Schaffer says, “My passions are studying history and current events, and in consequence, standing against, and exposing, tyranny.” And good for him.

[10] My MIL is actually a lovely person, and a lot less old-seeming than my own parents. She just doesn’t like metal. No one’s perfect.


  1. Fabulous blog, and thank you for introducing me to Manowar! To return the favour here are a couple of my current favourites

    ten thousand fists disturbed official music video

    I’m not young (45 I think, I’ve lost count) but I have always been into rock and metal. It doesn’t drive away the spirit for me AT ALL (obviously I only buy the clean versions – when I need to, because there’s generally very little swearing in rock music) but leaves me feeling energised, enthused and happy that there is such wonderful music and such talented people in God’s great world. I’m British, and having Queen, Def Leppard and Muse from our shores is one of the things which makes Britain Great.

  2. Beautiful. I was well on my way to fully accepting that I need rock music in my life and that the nay-sayers who decry its negative influence just don’t understand sometimes, but this post has freed me completely. I will never feel conflicted about my burning, passionate love for Biffy Clyro again. Thank you, Rebecca. I am absolutely serious. There are tears in my eyes, and it’s not just the menopause-related hormonal shifts.

  3. I LOVE NIGHTWISH. That’s all. Also, everyone should Google image search “Manowar album covers.” You’re welcome.

  4. A hurdy gurdy… AND BAGPIPES!!! I’m in love!

    Honestly, I share a lot of your history and the trajectory of your arc- I used to be wary of this genre, then, as I experienced it, I came to love it- there is so much richness and awesomeness, and, you can laugh with the theatrics and drama. So much fun.

    By the way, Susan M needs to see this. I may post the link on her FB wall. She’s my Patron Saint of music and is who taught me I didn’t have to jettison things I love to be a good Mormon.

  5. K, even though I haven’t listened to much heavy metal since High School this post is making me geek out enough to leave a few more observations:

    – It’s not all death n’ gloom! A number of bands, especially American “metalcore” (metal + hardcore) bands like Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall are actually quite uplifting if you can, you know, understand them through the growls. Then there are Christian metal bands like Zao and Demon Hunter

    – I wrote something about the craziest talk on backwards masking and other music devilry a few months back which you can read (and listen to) by clicking my name.

    – VIKING METAL. IT’S A THING. I mean, go watch Amon Amarth’s “Pursuit of the Viking” or “Death in Fire” videos and even if you think it’s awful (boo!) or pure cheese (yeah…) you have to admire their dedication.

    – 3 Inches of Blood – Deadly Sinners is my favorite fusion of high-pitched crooning and screachy growling and it’s AMAZING. Again, plenty of cheese, but delicious, wonderful cheese.

    – On the less extreme side, Metallica’s album “S&M” in which they play a live show with a symphony backing them is a good gateway album into relatively loud music for the uninitiated. At least, my parents liked it once they got over the album name.

    If I didn’t have to leave and catch a flight this morning I could go on and on and on. I heart this post.

  6. Loved the Nessun Dorma! Which led me to this metal version of the overture from The Marriage of Figaro: http://youtu.be/YmWDz9gxXmY

    I did have to cleanse my aural palate with a nice Haydn quartet afterwards. But perhaps I, too, will come to love the nuanced world of metal music…

  7. A mention of Blind Guardian in a BCC post? Freaking awesome. Nightfall in Middle Earth is a great album. I enjoy a lot of the other music–Nightwish, Rhapsody, some of Iced Earth. Fans of the power metal genre definitely need to check out Avantasia (another German band/project). And Lacuna Coil. And…I could go on.

    My true love is the closely-related genre of Progressive Metal (Savatage, Pain of Salvation, and yes–Queensryche and Dream Theater).

    And yes, it’s fantastic that–for the most part–this type of music is in line with the For the Strength of Youth guidelines. Unlike most pop and a lot of soft rock.

    I’m mainly just jealous that you live in a place where you can see some of these bands live.

  8. This is great. Thanks so much for sharing! I would say that this post perfectly sums up others’ reactions to the music I listen to (thought I listen to more than metal too). It always warms my heart when I see fellow members enjoying such wonderful music. I love heavy metal (especially NWOBH and progressive metal). My wife doesn’t like anything I listen to, but she always supports me and says I should go to shows and stuff.

    Thanks to my awesome parents, I grew up on all good rock n roll. In fact, my dad was prone to busting out his LPs on Sunday, and totally blasting music through the house. Us kids were the ones who asked him to turn it down…quite a reversal of roles.

    One thing I don’t like (Tim touched on this) is how people (many members?) automatically dismiss metal (and I would put experimental music too) simply because it “sounds” weird, bad, or any other subjective definition. What irks me is when so many people listen to inappropriate pop or rap songs, and think it’s okay, but say that what I listen to is bad because it’s “intense.” I think this is the case because those styles are more “palatable,” so to say. Anyway, rock on!

  9. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes. In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.

    “Life offers you two precious gifts—one is time, the other freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed..

    “Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.

    “Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for. And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement. And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.

  10. I agree Iron Maiden is awesome. I was pretty bummed out when a bunch of my co-workers went to see them in concert a month ago and I had bishopric duties. I also love how they put a book report in each album – evrything from Dune and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

    I met Bruce Dickenson while on my mission. Tried to get him to sign my scriptures, but nobody had a pen. He would have gone right below Orrin Hatch and a physicist from the Manhattan Project.

    Nightwish is great workout music. Nothing like Seven Days To The Wolves during triathlon training. “Yeah, this bites, but we fight anyway.” No better message to come on my headphones for the last two miles of the run.

  11. (Chiming in from the airport now)
    Iced Earth is great too. They’re kinda like the Toby Keith of heavy metal (c.f. “When the Eagle Cries”, which is probably the worst power ballad ever, but the preceding track on the same album, “Declaration Day”, is awesome).

  12. Peter LLC says:

    So I was watching the Eluveitie video and was pretty “meh” (not even the hurdy gurdy was doing it for me) UNTIL 2:36 where the lead singer, fresh from a guttural growl, pulls out a FLUTE from his back pocket and rocks a solo like it wasn’t no thing!

    Anyway, I think a lot of people get distracted too easily by album art or other imagery, with Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast being a good example. Which isn’t to say that my youth leaders were just phoning it in, because I remember a couple of firesides with examples of music to avoid that left me scratching my head wondering where the problem was.

  13. Yes, Iron Maiden is tragically under appreciated in some circles.

    Thanks for this survey. I have only been tangentially interested in metal, though have always had a foot in. I’m aware of a number of the bands you’ve highlighted but not others, and I’m grateful to have had a connoisseur as a guide. Thanks!

  14. Bro. Jones says:

    Excellent post. I’d also like to add that metal is the best soundtrack for weight lifting and exercise. I remember setting a (modest) personal best record while running, and I reached the top of a hill just as “Blut im Auge” by Equilibrium came up on the playlist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fkEsyFPAe0

    A fantastic memory, and one that wouldn’t have quite been the same if I’d been listening to MoTab. And yet I have not become a Satanist (yet).

  15. Wow! This is so great! When my son was four he was absolutely obsessed with Torche (a really excellent and totally life-affirming metal band from, I think, Florida). Proud stuff for a young father.

    Oh, and I’m the ward clerk in my ward (in Oregon! I don’t know where you are, but we should totally find a way to hang out) and I find that nothing gets me through my monthly reports like a set of headphones and a Converge album.

    Seriously, this is the best.

    Oh, and don’t run away from black metal too quickly. A lot of it is really great, and not evil at all.

  16. I like Iron Maiden’s sound, and appreciate their influence on the music world–they’ve influenced a huge amount of the music I like. I also love some of Bruce Dickinson’s solo stuff–“Man of Sorrows” is a fantastic song. But I do kind of get the creeps when I listen to the Iron Maiden albums. Maybe it’s the album art, maybe it’s the lyrics.

    My dad would sometimes play classic rock in the car when my mom wasn’t around. Unfortunately, most of his music collection was stolen when I was ten, but he had a Who tape and he loved hearing Queen, Zeppelin, and other quality classic rock on the radio. That was certainly a good starting point for me. I was sixteen or so when I had $200 burning a hole in my pocket and decided I needed some decent speakers. My dad and I drove around town looking at options, and showed up at home with a large set of used speakers and an amp. The woofers alone were 12 inches. My mom was not pleased.

    When people spout garbage about how listening to metal makes the spirit leave, I tell them how, for me, listening to country makes the spirit leave. It’s not because the spirit isn’t compatible with country–it’s because I’m not compatible with country. And I can’t listen to music I hate and feel the spirit at the same time. I don’t think any of us can.

    I have, in fact, felt the spirit listening to metal. One of many examples: Savatage’s “Believe” (recently redone by Savatage’s side project, Trans-Siberian Orchestra).

  17. J. Stapley says:

    Skull-pipes. Whoa.

  18. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    Merkin4, did you say Bruce Dickenson? “The” Bruce Dickenson? I’d be doing myself and everyone else a disservice without including this.

  19. I discovered metal when I was trying to stay awake on the drive home after my master’s degree night classes. I was in a hard core classical International Relations theory class when I played Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me” for the first time and it was like a moment of light and inspiration. “Yeah! These guys totally get realism!” Anyways, it’s hard for me to be such a nerd, but you are all my people, so I share. I’m very excited to try out your recommendations (when I’m not at work). Especially looking forward to the bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy!

  20. I’ve always thought Iron Maiden was guilty of false advertising. It has the album covers designed to scare the kids, and which clearly seem to be about the devil, but then the music isn’t really about Satan or worshiping evil, but instead about things like the Crimean War (the Trooper) and the pluses and minuses of European encroachment on native American land (Run to the Hills). I mean, who else writes songs about the Crimean War, let alone one with enough nuance to describe its incredible futility? I’d take that over the latest stuff on the radio seven days a week and twice on Tuesdays.

  21. 1. Rebecca I love you.

    2. Tracy I love you.

    3. Casey, I’ve seen 3 Inches of Blood live probably more times than I have any other band (maybe around 8 or 9 times) and they are soooo much fun live. I’ve taken my boys to see them when they were 9 & 12…the guitarist hung out with my 9yo afterwards talking videogames. Next time we saw them, my 9yo told him he needed a guitar cord, and he gave him one. My 9yo is now 19 and has written 7 death metal albums of his own (not recorded, but written).

    4. Jay, Converge are one of my all time fave bands. My son made fun of me for saying I wasn’t going to wash my hand ever again after I was able to shake the singer’s hand after a show. He was dripping in sweat and got it all over my palm. I want to marry that band.

    I notice no one’s brought up my favorite form of metal, doom metal, which isn’t surprising. I suppose to most people it sounds like Satan snoring, or something. To me, it’s pure audio sunshine–seriously, it makes me really happy. Probably because of my auditory processing disorder. But Rebecca Portland has some excellent doom metal bands, specifically, Witch Mountain and Yob–say hi to them if you ever see them for me, those guys are beyond super nice. Metalheads in general are very nice people, which I think is surprising to most people not on friendly terms with metalheads.

  22. Why oh why didn’t they play “7 Days to the Wolves” over the credits of “The Grey”?

    Fun post.

  23. For some reason my comment isn’t showing, maybe it’s in moderation? Anyway just wanted to add that metal for me is more about the live experience than anything. It is soooo much fun live.

  24. it's a series of tubes says:

    It’s quite possible that this is my favorite post on BCC, ever.

  25. Why is this a BCC post?

  26. Because I write for BCC.

  27. But, but . . . Dr. Feelgood! I liked that song!

  28. I thank everyone for sharing both their memories and especially their music. If you have links or embedded video in your comment, it will probably go straight to moderation, but I will try to keep up with the thread so I can release comments more expeditiously than I usually do.

  29. Holy hell, Susan, that Yob opening riff is amazing.

  30. merkin4 – Nobody had a pen? NOBODY HAD A PEN???

  31. RJH, I remember seeing them live way back in the day, and the singer introduced the band saying, “We’re Yob, and we’re going to play 3 songs. It’ll take about 55 minutes.” I was like YES! My husband isn’t such a doom fan though, and he groaned. He also timed them–it took them 60 minutes.

    Rebecca, when I was a kid my parents wouldn’t let us listen to metal, because that was Satan’s music. My parents weren’t even LDS, but my oldest brother had caused them a lot of grief and it was his music, so…Instead I got into punk. Always made me laugh to think my parents didn’t care if I was listening to Suicidal Tendencies, but metal was not allowed. I still borrowed my brother’s Megadeth records, though.

  32. There’s some of this in Mogwai’s DNA. That’s about as far as I go.

  33. it's a series of tubes says:

    Tim, it appears that you are my musical brother from another mother.

  34. The Other Clark says:

    I think the commenters on this thread missed the opening quote from FtSoY.
    “Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its <> …Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity.”

    That is, I think church leaders are saying that regardless of what the lyrics say, beat and intensity matter, and can create feelings and impulses (for better or worse) regardless of the lyrics.
    (e.g. MoTab always creates feelings of boredom and drowsiness regardless of the song.)

    I think some of this is just conditioning (we use organ in worship because we grew up with it and it SOUNDS right. Metal is devil music because it SOUNDS like it) but it’s possible that it runs deeper. There’s a whole theory of humans as vibrational energy, the relative frequencies of the various “chakras”, etc. In this buddist-based theory, the driving bass and loud rhythms appeal to the lower chakras. (Violin and harp resonate with the higher ones.)

    But to believe this is what the brethren refer to, implies the brethren accept some aspect of the eastern-oriented view.


  35. That’s interesting. I think it’s more of an individual thing, though, how music affects you. I know my love of music stems a lot from my auditory processing disorder.

    Plus I think music is a safe way to feel emotions that would otherwise be troublesome. I’m not explaining that very well. But it’s a really good outlet.

  36. Tubes–

    Good to hear. Any recommendations?

    Judging by the fact that pretty much the only people I know in person who like this music are people I introduced it too, I’m still pretty surprised that there are more than a handful of people on the Bloggernacle listening to it. Several individuals on Kulturblog have also written about metal–always a treat to read those posts.

  37. Musically, that Eluveitie song really was amazing. But the growling lead singer detracts from that, unfortunately. I love the metal guitars with that unique mix of other instruments. And even the melody being sung is fine but the growling distracts and gets in the way of the metal guitars.

  38. it's a series of tubes says:

    Exactly. Which is why Slayer’s “Skeletons of Society” or Disturbed’s “Stricken” or Rise Against’s “Prayer of the Refugee” work so, so well for getting you through that last 1/4 mile kick or those last few reps.

  39. it's a series of tubes says:

    Blast – the prior post should have blockquoted the following:

    beat and intensity matter, and can create feelings and impulses (for better or worse) regardless of the lyrics.

  40. It is really interesting to me that most of these were not as hard as I thought they were going to be. If I heard many of these on the radio, I probably would have classified most from the post as “Classic Rock”(which I generally like) rather than metal. Guess I need to work on my genre classifications, ha! My dad did take me to an Evanescence concert for my 12th birthday at my request. So many people at school were shocked when I came to school wearing a band t-shirt the next week since I was considered quite the molly mormon in my school days and my mom was the young women’s pres. at the time. I also think people sometimes got the impression that I only liked “classical” music since I took extra music classes & consequentially dropped p.e. & computers. “Wow, you like that dark stuff? Aren’t they pretty hard?” Perspective is a funny thing.

  41. Antonio Parr says:

    I love about every kind of music except … Heavy Metal.

    That being said, I had a blast reading this essay.

    Almost, thou persuadest me to give Heavy Metal a try …

    (Instead, give me Brian Wilson, Jimmy Webb, Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan, Lizz Wright, Roberta Flack, Bill Withers, Wilco, Declan O’Rourke, John Coltrane, JT, Carole King, King Crimson, etc.)

  42. Given your list, I was about to say “no hope for you liking metal,” but then you mentioned King Crimson. The progressive metal genre is so-named because of the heavy influence of progressive rock, of which King Crimson were the pioneers. If you like their first album, and you’re open to listening to new music in that same vein, I bet there’s quite a bit of progressive metal you might enjoy.

  43. Re: Other Clark’s point about the “feelings” this stuff can stir – I’m with Susan M. It’s personal. If metal makes you feel angry or sad, don’t listen to it. For me, it’s all smiles. MoTab on the other hand brings me all frowns.

  44. When I read, I don’t avoid books because they make me sad or angry. If they’re good, meaningful books, I’ll still read them, and I’ll still enjoy them. I don’t see why music is any different.

  45. Antonio Parr says:

    Tim: The first 7 King Crimson albums are all masterpieces. Robert Fripp was/is a genius. Bill Brufuord is one of the great drummers of the rock era. John Wetton and Greg Lake are amazing vocalists. Still, I find myself appreciating their ballads (some of which are gorgeous) more than their heavier stuff (but, because of Fripp’s innovative, melodic chops, I enjoy that, too).

  46. Rayla – Yes, it is all about perspective. I would never classify Evanescence as “dark.” And a lot of the metal bands I like are old (relative to the youngsters making metal today), so I would expect them to sound like classic rock to someone young. (I’m assuming you’re relatively young since you saw Evanescence on your 12th birthday). The truth is, I’m old, and metal is even older, so actually you do hear it on classic rock stations. One of the things that appealed to my husband about Manowar, though, was that it sounded so retro and reminded him of the old metal that he used to love.

  47. I think you’ve given the opposition some ammo with your footnote 10:

    Jon Schaffer says, “My passions are studying history and current events, and in consequence, standing against, and exposing, tyranny.” And good for him.

    I can just hear the clucking of the tongues and the response “See? I told you these metals were trouble what with their standing aghast whilst exposing. And…tyranny is one of their passions!!!”

  48. Whoops–that would be ftn 9…

  49. Alf O'Mega says:

    I well remember the moral panic of the early 80s about all that devil music the kids were listening to. At the time, I was a self-righteous teenager convinced of the moral and aesthetic superiority of my favorite classical composers. (Of course I now confine my condescension to aesthetic grounds.)

    Eventually, following a fireside on the topic, I convinced myself that I got a dark feeling when I listened to Brahms’s Paganini Variations, so I resolved only to play the A side of the record, the noble Handel Variations. (I had a recording by Garrick Ohlsson at the time; I am just gobsmacked by Evgeny Kissin’s performance now.) It didn’t last, as purity must eventually yield to passion.

    So from across a musical chasm, here’s a knowing nod to Brother J.

  50. Thomas Parkin says:

    The entire history of BCC is justified by this OP.

    When I was about 15, my parents bought and gave me the book Pop Music and Morality, by Lex de Azvedo. In that self-serving and deeply dishonest book rest the roots of a lot of my cynicism towards the good advice we get at church.

  51. Susan M – I think that you hit the nail on the head with the “music is a safe way to feel emotions that would otherwise be troublesome.” I’ve often wondered why I like some of the darker stuff I enjoy (Nine Inch Nails, industrial music in general) when I have very little reason or desire to experience the emotions or topics explored in it. I do not ever intend to use drugs, commit suicide, hurt myself, destroy someone I love, etc., but I sometimes wish for an escape from my life, feel anger at myself or my loved ones, and so forth. It is cathartic to hear those experiences described and thus purge myself of the darkness I do feel.

  52. Scream for me…

  53. Not sure if anyone mentioned it, but you must watch the documentary series “Metal Evolution” it is fantastic.


    I lived through the age of 80’s hair bands, and I don’t want to relive it, but I do love me some AC/DC. I especially love it when Highway to Hell is blasting when the doors on my Swaggerwagon swing open after rolling up in the parking lot for 9 am Church.

  54. Yes, relatively young at 24ish. I guess my age informs my perspective too. I think I’ll be looking into more metal music now tho, thanks for sharing!

  55. That metal documentary is really good. Of course they left a ton of stuff out but it’s impossible to include it all.

    Villate, that’s one reason I don’t have a problem with people singing about things like God being dead or other stuff a lot of Mormons would probably find objectionable. I don’t have to agree with a song’s sentiments to enjoy listening to it. I can appreciate that other people feel differently than I do about things and empathize with them. But I also don’t make the mistake of assuming that song lyrics reflect the opinions or viewpoints of the singer or band. See here:


  56. Not a metal fan, but I appreciate the explanation that music does carry a huge emotional impact. As for me, I grew up with rock and roll, Rolling Stones, Beatles,Ten Years After, Cream, the Yardbirds, Zeppelin, and the like, and didn’t realize until later that what I liked most was really based on good old American Blues. So when I started to discover the old blues masters, like Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, BB King, Albert King, and too many others to name, it just resonated with me. The bad news to this, is that blues is really all about sex and infidelity. And occasionally alcohol. However, I have not been unfaithful to my wife, nor run off and left her in a drunken stupor. We occasionally go to blues concerts together, such as Robert Cray in Seattle here a year or two ago. Love the music, not too crazy about the message.

    That has also led me to some flirtation with jazz. Not jazz vocals, like Diana Krall, but things like John Coltrane, Miles Davis (Bitches Brew, anyone?), and Herbie Hancock. I still remember the great time I had with a bunch of Beehives and their leader in the back of my van listening to Eric Clapton’s version of JJ Cale’s “Cocaine” on the way to youth conference. As far as I know, none of them, or me either for that matter, were scarred for life.

    Long way of saying that even though I don’t share your enthusiasm for metal, I do share the passion for music out of the mainstream. You rock, RebeccaJ.

  57. Umm, lest there be confusion, I was driving, and the Beehives and their leader were in the back of the van. Singing along. Maybe all that blues stuff is getting to me.

  58. that is an important clarification!

  59. I’m confused. I like the feminist bent of this site and appreciate the many thoughtful insights in that regard. But I notice that there is a frequent tendency to bemoan any misogynist (or perceived misogynist) tendency of a program or GA talk that focuses on reducing women to mere nurturing mothers, usually ignoring anything good that was in the offending talk or program. And yet, this self-indulgent post celebrates one of the most misogynist genres of music we have.

    We excoriate people for trying to cover girl’s shoulders (I’m with you on that by the way), but now you celebrate a group which dresses women in barely there bondage leather and treats women as mere sex toys or worse? Do you really believe you can just listen to the misogynist darkness and get it out of your system? Why so quick to condemn God’s servants in their errors and yet be so completely gushing toward a group who has done far more to threaten the well being of women than the patriarchy of the church?

    If you think I’m being overly sensitive, please take a stroll down memory lane for some of the lyrics from some of your favorite artists, beginning with “Pleasure Slave” from ManOWar.

    “She is waiting to kiss my hand
    but she will wait for my command
    my chains and collar brought her
    to her knees,
    she now is free to please
    woman, be my slave
    that’s your reason to live”
    (Pleasure Slave – ManoWar 1988)

    “Coming back to London on a 747
    stewardess made me feel like I’m in heaven
    looking up the aisle to see what I could see
    she leaned over said; Give it to me
    white apron, brown leather shoes
    the nurse at the clinic left my heart all bruised
    gave me a massage, sprained my right
    now she takes my temperature every night”
    (Women in Uniform – Iron Maiden 1980)

    “She take you down easy
    going down to her knees
    going down to the devil
    down down at ninety degrees
    she blowing me crazy…
    she’s no Mona Lisa
    no she’s no playboy star
    but she’ll send you to heaven
    then explode you to Mars
    she’s using her head again…
    I’m justa giving the dog a bone”
    (Givin the dog a bone – AC/DC 1980)

    “My cat is purring
    and scratches my skin
    so what is wrong
    with another sin
    the b*&ch is hungry
    she needs to tell
    so give her inches
    and feed her well”
    (Rock you like a hurricane – Scorpions 1984)

    “Panties ’round your knees
    with your &$$ in debris
    doin’ that grind with a push and squeeze
    tied up, tied down, up against the wall
    be my rubbermade baby
    and we can do it all”
    (Anything goes – Guns N Roses 1987)

    Backstroke lover always hidin’ ‘neath the covers
    till I talked to your daddy, he say
    he said “you ain’t seen nothin’ till you’re down on a muffin
    then you’re sure to be a-changin’ your ways”
    I met a cheerleader, was a real young bleeder
    oh, the times I could reminisce
    ’cause the best things of lovin’ with her sister and her cousin
    only started with a little kiss
    like this!
    seesaw swingin’ with the boys in the school
    and your feet flyin’ up in the air
    singin’ “hey diddle diddle”
    with your kitty in the middle of the swing
    like you didn’t care
    (Walk this way – Aerosmith 1976)

    “Yankee girls ya just can’t beat
    but they’re the best
    when they’re off their feet”
    I’m such a good good boy
    I just need e new toy
    I tell ya what, girl
    Dance for me, I’ll keep you overemployed
    Just tell me a story
    You know the one I mean
    Crazy Horse, Paris, France
    Forget the names, remember romance
    I got the photos, a menage a trois
    Musta broke those Frenchies laws with those.
    (Girls, girls, girls — Motley Crue 1987)

    If mere misogyny isn’t enough alone, how about throwing in some racist misogyny?

    “White girls they’re pretty funny,
    sometimes they drive me mad
    black girls just wanna get f&*^ed all night,
    I just don’t have that much jam
    chinese girls are so gentle,
    they’re really such a tease
    you never know quite what they’re cookin’,
    inside those silky sleeves”
    (Some Girls – Rolling Stones 1978)

    I repeat–why is this a BCC post? This is self-indulgent, thoughtless, hypocritical drivel.

  60. Antonio Parr says:

    Hagoth –

    I agree that those lyrics are indefensible, and no riff, no matter how well executed, can make them acceptable. Kudos to you to have the courage to say so.

  61. Are the lyrics you’ve posted reprehensible? Yes, no doubt.

    But by that logic you would condemn all of Mormonism for MMM.

    I’m willing to bet you will find less talk of sex in metal than almost all other major modern music genres. And my experience has been that the more well-known bands–like the ones you mention–are far more likely to incorporate sex into their music than the other bands mentioned in this post.

    Plus, your most recent example is 25 years old, and several of those bands aren’t even metal (Rolling Stones? Aerosmith?).

  62. Hagoth, if you don’t like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC or Iron Maiden, my recommendation to you is to keep on building ships and sail away until you find the magical paradise you seek where really cool people who don’t like rock must live. Maybe email Mumford & Sons and ask them where it is to be found. Calling a post “self-indulgent, thoughtless, hypocritical drivel” is a non-starter and you owe Rebecca an apology. Let me know when you’re ready and just email the admin. Until then thou art BANNINATED.

  63. Antonio Parr says:

    Betwixt and between …

    I loved the essay. Amazingly well written and downright entertaining.

    I love music, including rock. (Best current live band: Wilco. If you haven’t seen them, you are missing out.)

    But I hate, hate, hate the kind of lyrics cited by Haggoth, and feel quite sympathetic to the Strength of Youth language cited above when I read them. The lyrics are indefensible, and good for the LDS Church for trying to direct our young people away from messages that are as far removed from Jesus as a message can be.

    Of course, not all rock objectifies women in such a crude way, and some great messages are carried by driving rock beats.

    So, I’ll have neither saccharin nor cyanide in my herbal tea, please.

  64. I thought it was unfair of Hagoth to work up a rather impressive list of metal lyric research, and then cite his own list as evidence that Rebecca’s post was self indulgent, thoughtless, hypocritical — and drivel. Would that I could write such drivel.

    And yeah, there’s misogyny in some metal lyrics. The thing is, there’s misogyny in almost everything, including cinema, classical literature, the scriptures, and the church. When you have to pick it out of everything you consume, it loses a lot of its ability to alarm you.

    I am not a metal fan at all, but I am a big fan of Rebecca’s posts here, so in that spirit, I listened to a lot of the links and read a few things on the periphery of those links, and I’ll never again look down my [formerly] musical snobby nose at head-bangers. Why, they’re just like opera-lovers!

    I only have one recommendation: When you play the musical number at the funeral mentioned in the footnotes, be sure to have the printed lyrics inserted into the program so that all the uninitiated can get every unfamiliar nuance.

  65. Not a mormon, but interested says:

    I’m married to a former Mormon, but definitely interested in the church culture and history (if for no other reason than it will be part of my son’s history). That said, love this post. Both my hubby and I love music and both quite like metal music. I was so happy to see some of these groups listed. I dragged him to a sacrament meeting many years ago to see what it was all about and one of the speakers had a very interesting talk on music and how it influences us. Susan M. is correct in that for me, music is a way to experience heavy emotions in a safe way.

    My son entered the world to the strains of Nightwish :) Over the Hills and Far Away, so I have a particular soft spot for them. But his birth was one of the most truly spiritual things to ever happen to me.

    For another band, check out Within Temptation. I particularly enjoy Our Solemn Hour featuring excerpts from Winston Churchill’s Be Ye Men of Valor speech. That song just hits me every time. It feels like a cry out to the Holy Father to deliver us from the evils of war and tyranny. No cussing or objectionable lyrics in that one.

  66. it's a series of tubes says:

    I agree with Hagoth that the lyrics he posted are vile. That being said, nearly none of them come from the metal genre.

  67. Tim: Good point. When I read, sometimes it makes me mad or sad, and I don’t worry about it. And when I listen to music, sometimes it does the same thing. I generally don’t worry about it, and I don’t think I should. Like others (Susan) have said, art (and music in particular) can be a really safe way to explore complex feelings. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    But there is something wrong with terrible lyrics, I think. And, at least for me, I try to avoid the bad stuff. I think I can pretty safely say that none of the metal I frequently listen to indulges in the degrading type of stuff described above. Most of it is political/spiritual/cultural. Sometimes “horror movie” type stuff. But nothing that I find terribly offensive. Everything on Brittany’s “Work B***ch,” or Miley’s “We Can’t Stop” is more offensive than anything in my metal library.

  68. One more thought on the “angry and sad” note — I do think we should generally avoid anything (news, books, music, whatever) that makes us feel “dark” (whatever that is, exactly). I know it when I feel it, and I think it’s undeniably a good thing to avoid it. It comes from a million sources and it’s not a good way to feel. If metal (or any other artistic genre) makes you feel that way, you should avoid it. But I still think that can be different for different people.

    I think that’s the spirit of the the FTSoY advice and I’m happy to give that a thumbs up.

  69. Two of hagoth’s examples are not Metal but the essence of his post is right. Why silence thoughtful dissent, Steve? You cut GA’s no slack and yet you cut manOWar slack and hold them out for praise? This forum holds church leaders responsible for every perceived social faupax, ignoring redeeming content of their talks, but you hold up Manowar as good somehow.
    As for self indulgence, I went back and looked at what Rebecca posted. Hagoth asked her this morning, “why is this a BCC post?” She responded, “because I Write for BCC.” It was a self indulgent riff, and was insensitive to the double standard that she measures with. This was not her finest work and lacked her usual 360 degree reflection. I’m disappointed in the post and in your attack on a thoughtful voice who is trying to keep you honest.

  70. I just looked up the rest of the manOWar lyrics for Pleasure Slave. This band deserves neither patronage nor a shoutout in the OP.
    Here they are. Appalled that Rebecca plugged or defended them.

    She is waiting to kiss my hand
    But she will wait for my command
    My chains and collar brought her to her knees
    She now is free to please

    Woman, be my slave
    That’s your reason to live
    Woman, be my slave
    The greatest gift I can give
    Woman, be my slave

    Before her surrender she had no life
    Now she’s a slave, not a wife
    Her only sorrow is for women who live with lies
    She’s taken off her disguise

    Woman, be my slave
    That’s your reason to live
    Woman, be my slave
    The greatest gift I can give
    Woman, be my slave

    Your body belongs to me

    Woman, come here
    Remove your garments
    Kneel before me
    Please me

    Woman, be my slave
    That’s your reason to live
    Woman, be my slave
    The greatest gift I can give
    Woman, be my slave

  71. Isn’t anyone going to bring up Jagger and how he told a churchy Mormon dude on a plane that his music is designed to Drive Kids To Sex? My libido must be out of whack, because it never did that for me even when I was a kid. Maybe if I listened to it more. Or backwards.

  72. I didn’t plug Manowar’s earlier music. It doesn’t particularly interest me. (Incidentally, theirs are probably the only album covers scarier than Iron Maiden’s…though for rather different reasons.) I do fully endorse Warriors of the World–it’s a great album devoid of sex slavery. (Just a whole lot of violence on behalf of true metal.) It’s also an integral part of the story I’m telling here. If the point of that story was lost on some people, well, I think I can see my way to blaming that on my writing. However, I’m not the one who started publishing disgusting lyrics in the comments section, so I don’t feel the need to apologize for those.

    Perhaps I should have spent more time with footnotes and disclaimers. “Warning: Delve into this artist’s back catalog at your own risk!” I’ll bear that in mind when I write my future posts. For example, if I ever write a post defending the much-maligned hymn “I Believe in Christ” (a song I really like when it’s sung at a proper tempo), I will be sure to mention that I don’t endorse any racist stuff Bruce R. McConkie used to say.

    My initial response to Hagoth’s question was flippant because his question didn’t inspire a thoughtful response. I didn’t realize I was supposed to read his mind and understand the source of his confusion over why I would post this at BCC. Now that I understand his concern, I can address it this way: I never did endorse every single song that can be categorized in the metal genre. (I certainly never endorsed the Rolling Stones. Please.) I shared specific examples of music that I enjoy (none of which is misogynistic) while telling the story of how I came to discover this music and all the variety it offers. I thought it was a cute story, but I guess I was a little too close to it.

  73. True story- I saw this band live on the day Prez Obama was elected. They’re a well known anti-christian band and I loved every bloody, metallic moment of it. Later that evening (much later), I got home, showered the sour beer and rank of sin off of me, and I got the overwhelming feeling I should start reading the book of mormon again. I did, and I served a full, honorable mission not a year later.

    So, I can effectively say that Satanic metal helped restore my faith.

  74. I’m not very familiar with Manowar other than they’re very over the top. But the first reaction I had to reading those lyrics was that it sounds like some sort portrayal of Viking mysogny, not modern-day mysogny. So I looked them up on Wikipedia and they’re described as a band that writes about Norse mythology.

    Often with metal you gotta dig a little deeper.

  75. Well, I lived through those years of backward masking and Ozzy biting the head off bats. In high school I was terrified of metal and listened to pop and rock (along with classical and jazz. But no country. NO COUNTRY!!!). I remember my freshman summer of college i bought the Def Leppard Pyromania album, and i though i was all badass and daring. Then I married a headbanger and we had our kids and my two oldest sons started learning guitar. That was when I fell in love with metal, through the eyes (and very talented fingers) of my boys as they learned guitar. I even got to go with the Priests’ Quorum of our ward (along with both advisors) to a Metallica concert. (hey, it was a MISSIONARY activity, we also took a nonmember, so there! Our bishop had really wanted to go–he had a TRULY badass concert history, including seeing Led Zep back in the 70s– but was out of town for work). Not true metal, but terribly fun– I splurged several years ago and got 2nd row seats for KISS. Literally close enough to see Gene’s hair all stuck to the makeup on his face and have Paul Stanley throw me a pick. It was just freaking awesome. And what impressed me the most? GENERATIONS of people there– I saw 80 year old grandpas and babies (including a 2 year old Gene Simmons mini-me that had Gene charmed all evening). And when we got home and showed the kids our video of Rock n Roll All Night, 7 year old Matthias said, “Mom! That’s Gene Simmons! Why didn’t you take me???” (it seems Gene had this cartoon…)

    Metal just doesn’t sound dated. And really it is so so far less offensive than most of what is out there currently, it feels positively tame, and there is a gorgeous melodiousness and harmony that is nowhere else. There is a great Heavy Metal documentary (can’t think of the name if it) where someone made the statement that if Bach were alive, he would be doing metal. I agree– it is wonderfully complex and frequently genius,

    And to quote KISS– “God gave rock n roll to you, put it in the soul of everyone!”. Amen.

  76. Marie–

    I heard Gene R. Cook speak a few years back, along with his son, who was in his twenties. It was clear that the family avoided rock altogether. All because, apparently, Mick Jagger decided to pull a practical joke on Gene R. Cook on a plane–and Elder Cook fell for it completely.

    Again, though, Mick Jagger does not do metal.

  77. Nice article. Just a little note: all of that Satanism stuff in the 80s was a scam. Here’s an interesting article to get one started if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Warnke

  78. MDearest already said this better, but I love your writing, Rebecca, even if I don’t know anything about the topic. Sorry people are giving you a hard time about this post.

  79. I’m pretty sure calling ANY blog post self-indulgent is redundant. That’s not a criticism, it’s a description of what blogs are!

  80. Tim, yes, that had been my conclusion about the story–that when Jagger realized he was sitting next to a very religious and very conservative person he decided to have some fun with him. My comment was related to the first part of the O.P., about the alarmist tone in the Church in the 80s regarding supposed hidden evil messages in rock music, including even stuff like the Beatles. I remember a fireside in our ward when I was a tween, wherein kids and parents were earnestly told by a “music expert” about the Satanic backwards messages hidden in lots of rock music–not just metal. Our high school seminary also had a push to get students for a week (or month?) to listen to only music that was created by artists who didn’t violate Church standards in their personal lives. I remember wondering how I could figure out for sure that Amy Grant didn’t have a dark secret…..

  81. It is self indulgent. I think she admits that when she says maybe she was too close to the story. It is hypocritical, especially in light of her past posts appropriately questioning subtle messages of patriarchy and focussing just on those issues. Thoughtless? I don’t know. I don’t see any willingness to reflect on whether she is holding people to a different standard, but she thoughtfully explored her own musical exploration. Drivel? Eye of the beholder.
    But banishing someone because they questioned your author’s commitment to rooting out patriarchy? I heard that someone once long ago said that the biggest threat to the church was gays, so-called intellectuals and feminists. Who knew that calling out a BCC poster for not being sensitive to harmful messages against women could get you excommunicated from the BCC?

  82. Pat, if that’s what you think is really going on you’re quite mistaken.

    Guys, it’s not that complicated or difficult – don’t act like a jerk. BCC is, if you will, a cocktail party at which you are all invited. But if you’re interested in a fight or if you are just being rude, we’ll ask you to leave. It’s that simple! Don’t try to play some high horse card about quashing dissent, etc. – it’s not going to fly.

  83. “Our high school seminary also had a push to get students for a week (or month?) to listen to only music that was created by artists who didn’t violate Church standards in their personal lives.”

    Great story. I remember one seminary teacher telling us to destroy our AC/DC albums (not an issue for me, as I can’t stand the vocals–but I’m just grateful that teacher didn’t cast a wider net). With the “make sure artists don’t violate church standards” purge, forget reading any Oscar Wilde (flaming homosexual). Oh–you say he was recently quoted in General Conference? Hmmm…

    I think it’s great that some of the anti-metal types are here, as it reinforces my belief that people who think metal is devil-music (or is full of harmful messages against women, etc. etc.) have little to no actual exposure to the genre.

  84. In many ways I am a hypocrite. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever been called. But I don’t fully understand the accusation in this instance, especially “in light of [my] questioning subtle messages of patriarchy” in the past. I don’t believe there’s any patriarchy, subtle or otherwise, in this post. I admit that I’m feeling somewhat confused and resentful about being held accountable for every song in Manowar’s oeuvre. If I quote Brigham Young in a post, am I endorsing every offensive and wackadoodle thing he ever said? (I could start reprinting some choice bits of his back catalog here, but I think that would be unnecessarily inflammatory.)

    If I took out the part about Manowar, I think the story would suffer, but would the post stop being hypocritical? I can’t repent if I don’t understand the extent of my sins.

  85. Yes, there are a lot of songs of all genres with lyrics that objectify women. That is wrong and I agree that it is worth commenting on that and condemning it.

    Now, as to Mick Jagger, Tim, do you really believe that Mick Jagger, the lead singer for the Rolling Stones, was flying coach and ended up seated next to Elder Gene R. Cook?

    I am not saying that Elder Cook was lying with this story that he told. However, how did he know who Mick Jagger was and what he looked like? Couldn’t it have been anyone who just claimed to be Mick Jagger so that he could mess around with the Mormon on the plane?

    Here’s how it very likely could have gone down: Elder Cook sits next to a random metal head on a random flight. (Possibly gives copious amounts of non-verbal cues of judgment or disapproval of the man’s clothing and hairstyle, in keeping with general Wasatch Front Culture). But eventually tries to talk to him about the Book of Mormon. Since the flight isn’t even close to over, the man decides to pull the prank that has become so famous in Mormon culture.

    It’s one possibility anyway, and seems more likely than assuming that Mick Jagger was flying coach on a commercial airliner and had this heart to heart with Elder Cook.

  86. sidebottom says:

    Better not let Hagoth know about Mozart’s “Leck mich im Arsch”.

  87. Seems my comment is lost in moderation forever – a couple of days old now, so without the link: my daughter is a big fan of Viking and Pagan metal, originating in an obsession with Norse legends. She especially likes the Norwegian band Einherjer and their album Odin owns ye all (or something like that). For some reason it’s rated 18 in iTunes, but as I couldn’t find anything wrong with the language when I researched the lyrics, can only assume it’s down to the violence of the myths themselves. I hadn’t been familiar with metal music prior to my daughter introducing me to it. And I too remember all that 80s stuff about how you were supposed th hear things playing a record backwards. Anyway, I found it all very interesting.
    Not sure why you’ve been getting such a hard time.

  88. Caffeine Drinker says:

    In the 80s, it was all about hair. The more you had, the better.

  89. BCC is a cocktail party? More like a mocktail party.

    Am I right?

  90. Hedgehog: I finally found your comment – not sure why I missed it before, but here is your original link (for those who care, and I know those who do): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qEGHMHL8vE&list=PLD05A4EA3A142D973

  91. As a music lover, musician, and former aspiring rockstar (spent most of the 90s and early 00s playing in hard rock bands a la Chili Peppers/Foo Fighters style music, the general topic of this discussion resonates with me.

    There is such a huge range of music even within specific genres, as with most things in life there is also a range of intent. Use your brain and choose whatever music and lyrics seem most appropriate for you. Just take a bit of time and as has been mentioned earlier, dig a little deeper to find out what the artist is about or is trying to say. There is so much awesome and inspiring music out there that you are doing yourself a disservice by giving blanket acceptance or refusal to any specific genre simply because of how some of it appears on the surface.

    I think of the New York Doll/Killer Kane documentary from a few years ago. David Johansen sang the most beautiful rendition of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”. Some of the best lyrics come from dark or tragic themes that capture the truth and often possibilities and resilience of the human condition. Everclears song “Father of Mine” brings me to tears almost anytime I listen to it.
    Art Alexakis declaration during the climax of the song to step up and be the father that he never had gut-wrenching, inspring and powerful.

    Finally, if song lyrics are the major sticking point for you, there is plenty of instrumental music in almost all styles that would take the dangerous words out of the equation.

  92. I thought BCC was a ward ice cream social, except with the differences and dysfunction out in the open instead of the pretense that it doesn’t exist. Also, Steve Evans is our bishop.

  93. For example, if I ever write a post defending the much-maligned hymn “I Believe in Christ” (a song I really like when it’s sung at a proper tempo), I will be sure to mention that I don’t endorse any racist stuff Bruce R. McConkie used to say.

    This is one of the funniest things I’ve read here, ever.

  94. I did the same thing in my teens and early twenties~rid myself of all ungodly music and lit.~and almost every single time I rebought the same album. I must have paid for Land of Rape and Honey at least 10 times, in addition to Skinny Puppy’s entire catalog. I thought I was a little weird for doing so…

  95. Greg Masters says:

    I understand the need to feel the power of Heavy Metal, I like it myself. I prefer bands that do not express their politics, beliefs etc in their lyrics. Once the power of their music has the power to influence me in a bad way I draw the line. That’s why I usually enjoy instrumentalists more; like Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson. Since I have quite a long commute (50 min each way) I have plenty of time to listen to music, podcasts, the scripture etc. I go through phases where its music and then podcasts or even conference talks. What I find is that for the most part:
    1) Hard Rock/Heavy Metal can excite me and cheer me up but does nothing for my soul
    2) Podcasts about societal problems get me to think but make me concerned and sometimes worried
    3) Conference talks usually inspire me to do better but sometimes leave me wondering how I’ll ever be able to overcome some things.
    The bottom line is that sometimes I want to distracted from where I am and other times I want to reflect on where I am going. I have to admit that probably if I spent more time thinking about where I want to be than trying to forget where I am, I might actually make more progress. Music has its place and as long as it does not distract too much from the time that our soul desperately needs to help us change for the better, it is probably ok.

  96. Rebecca, this was a delightful post. It really makes me want to like metal (especially hobbit metal!), but I’m not sure I’m there yet. I hold tight to the Depeche Mode and Cure of my youth, though.

  97. Iron Maiden can’t be fought, Iron Maiden can’t be sought.

    Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far.

  98. I’m very late to the discussion here, but after reading many of the comments I’d just like to say, isn’t it reasonable to have different expectations of apostles than of rock stars? The lyrics Hagoth quotes are revolting, and I won’t partake in listening to them, but nor did Rebecca refer us to such trash. It seems like she was selective in her recommendations. And I do not think it was hypocritical for her to refer us to music that an apostle would not have written. It isn’t unreasonable to have higher expectations of our church leaders than of heavy metal rockers.

  99. Interesting post and interesting comments. I don’t like heavy metal or hard rock. I don’t like any really noisy music. I am a classical music lover, but also enjoy folk and some jazz. Don’t like country, either. I clicked on the Nessen Dorma link and thought they did okay with that, although a good opera tenor would have been better.