Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Unblack Metal Scene
Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we take a look at quality underground bands in an attempt to spread the word of lesser known acts. This week we're diving into a divisive and controversial subject: Christian "unblack" metal. Also known as "white metal" or "holy unblack metal," the genre twists the standard Satanic or anti-religious themes and instead presents a pro-Christian worldview.
Say the phrase "Christian black metal" to the average metal head and you're likely to be met with a confused giggle or a baffled comparison to Jewish Nazi metal bands, but believe it or not there is a thriving religious black metal scene. While many of the black metal legions may see Christian lyrical themes as an irreconcilable contradiction, there are quite a few unblack bands with music every bit as dark and menacing as anything from the likes of Mayhem or Dimmu Borgir.
As a companion to this look into three unblack metal bands, we also have an editorial dealing with the subject of Christianity in black metal.
Destroying any preconceived notions of unblack metal lacking the force of an anti-religious band, Finland’s Renascent is a thrash-influenced symphonic black metal power house that equals or exceeds many secular bands. The level of fury present in the music is pretty astonishing, and the band doesn’t slouch in the melody department either. It’s a shame the band isn’t better known in the extreme metal community, as the aggressive symphonic tones are sure to please fans of acts like Dimmu Borgir or Dragonlord. Several Renascent tracks are available for streaming through the band’s MySpace page, with “In Hell” and “Exodus” being the most potent examples of crushing brutality mixed with keyboards. The songs “Scenes of a Tragedy” and “Through Darkness” can also be found in the video clips below.
Australia’s Fearscape drops nearly all of the symphonic elements heard in Renascent, instead opting to exude the freezing cold blackness found in plenty of Scandinavian black metal acts. While not exactly a “progressive” metal group, Fearscape does have a knack for including melody in the song structures, and defies black metal norms with decent production and an active bass presence. The band released the “Scent of Divine Blood” album (reviewed here) in 2007, and has recently announced a hiatus as the various members work on other projects in different musical directions.
Songs from the album are available for streaming here and live clips of the band performing “Abaddon Destroyer,” “Nightmare Hymn,” and “Sleeping in Light” can be viewed below. Anti-religious metal fans may get a chuckle out of seeing a chubby guy covered in fake blood screaming about God defeating Satan, but honestly black metal isn’t a stranger to on-stage shenanigans that seem silly to outside viewers. Whether it’s the infamous pictures of the Taake front man accidentally exposing himself during a live set, the over-the-top corpse paint utilized by many bands, or the weird faces Dani Filth is known for, metal is adept at showing that what seems ridiculous to one person can have serious significance for someone else.
Frost Like Ashes
Heading more into the raw side of black metal, Missouri based band Frost Like Ashes wouldn’t even be recognized as a Christian band at first glance. Corpse paint covered band members, songs about dashing babies to pieces and women being raped, and names like “Qoheleth” and “Adonijah” don’t exactly scream “religion.” But then a closer look is taken, and we realize the black metal style names are all taken from the Bible, and the lyrics are about what will happen to unbelievers who turn their backs on the Christian deity. Frost Like Ashes tracks can be heard here, and the song “Lord of Darkness” can be found at this location.
“Born to Pieces” is a particular interesting look at what happens when metal meets religion, with the typical trappings of black metal being used to tackle the subject of abortion.
Certainly there are more quality underground unblack metal bands to be found. If you'd like to recommend bands from the Christian black metal scene, please feel free to discuss them in the comments below. As a companion to this entry of Unearthing the Underground, we will also be posting an editorial soon delving into Christian black metal and the role religion can play in a style known primarily for its anti-religious themes.
Check back every Monday as we delve into a different scene or genre to unearth some new underground metal bands.
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