Winter's Dawn Drummer Amnon Defends Christian Black Metal
Expanding on our recent Unearthing the Metal Underground column on Christan "unblack" metal, Metalunderground has also posted an editorial on the role of religion in black metal. While researching various unblack metal bands for the article, I spoke with several metal bands from both sides of the religious divide to get their input. As a teaser for the editorial, we've posted the full answers to the questionnaire I sent to each band.
After first talking with the band Frames, which took the anti-religious stance, I next corresponded with drummer Amnon of U.K. based Christian black metal act Winter's Dawn. Amnon explained his thoughts on the term "unblack" metal and how he sees it as a style of music that can be separated from its original message.
xFiruath: What does black metal or extreme metal personally mean to you, either as a musical style or a philosophy?
Amnon: Black metal for me is about passion, atmosphere, and feeling.
xFiruath: Do you personally see a distinction between unblack metal bands and black metal bands? That is to say, do you think bands with religious members and religious lyrics should be categorized differently?
Amnon: This is a controversial area, some say that Christian black metal bands must be called something else i.e. “unblack” because a black metal band must have a certain type of lyrics or spirit. I tend to dislike the term unblack myself and prefer to say Christian black metal, where “Christian” is the message/lyrics and “black metal" is the musical style.
xFiruath: There’s no question that black metal saw its major awakening with Norwegian bands that either had anti-religious sentiments or had members who were themselves involved in anti-religious activities. Do you think that black metal can be separated from its beginnings without becoming something else entirely?
Amnon: For me personally, black metal is a style of music, just the same as rock is a style of music. I know black metal elitists may disagree with me here and say that the music and the message are tied together too closely to be separate, but I don't mind adhering to my own interpretation.
xFiruath: How do lyrics influence your decision to listen to a band? If you heard an amazing black metal band you loved, but later discovered the lyrics were anti-Christian, would you continue listening to them?
Amnon: The lyrics of band have a big influence regarding whether I will listen or not. Being a Christian I don't want to listen to songs that are blasphemous towards the God I worship. Some say, they are just listening to enjoy the music alone, but I prefer to embrace a band completely, including the message they present.
xFiruath: How would you feel about listening to a pro-Muslim black metal band with all Islamic members (or a pro-Jewish black metal band, or pro-Scientologist black metal band, or pro-Mormon black metal band, or so on…)?
Amnon: It would depend on the lyrical content, again I wouldn't listen if they were blasphemous etc.
xFiruath: What would your response be to a Christian who prayed on the subject and found they had a sincere conviction that black metal was an absolutely evil tool of the devil?
Amnon: I would respect their opinion and conviction.
xFiruath: After listening to a lot of Christian rock and metal bands, I’ve found they tend to segregate out based on lyrical content. How do you feel about Christian unblack metal bands using war and gore themed lyrics, such as about battles between angels and demons? How about lyrics dealing with the times God kills people (or commands others to kill people) during the Bible? Do you think unblack metal bands should only have positive and uplifting lyrics?
Amnon: I don't have a problem with lyrics that are biblically based.
xFiruath: What Christian bands do you personally listen to, metal or otherwise?
Mostly black metal bands: Antestor, Crimson Moonlight, Sanctifica, Horde, Frosthardr, Drottnar, etc.
xFiruath: What specifically in your life led you to either believe or disbelieve in ideas like God and the supernatural?
Amnon: I first believed in God after finding the Bible compelling and since then my faith in God and the Bible are based on personal experience of seeing God at work in my life.
xFiruath: What’s going on with your band these days?
Amnon: Winter's Dawn are currently recording songs for our 2nd full-length album that should be out Winter 2011, updates will be posted on our myspace here.
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