Keep The Faith

Hello web travellers, and welcome to the music team’s inaugural popping of the blog cherry. Here we’ll be giving ‘Insight’ into the events of the pop music sphere, both worldwide and closer to home, and hopefully fitting in a few interviews and reviews that we couldn’t get into the paper for your delectation. Enjoy!

Keep The Faith

When questioned by my good friend (who happens to circulate the higher echelons of the Christian Union) about my religious beliefs, the best I could muster was, ‘I worship the cosmic force of rock.’ While this may sound like a stoner cliché, it pretty much sums up the fact that I choose to put my faith in screaming egomaniacs and wailing guitars rather than in cloud-dwelling universe architects. When he pressed me to explain, I muttered something about how rock ‘n roll stars generally sport the beard and hair style combo began by Jesus 2,000 years ago and how a gig is a bit like church – singing, worship, and what feels like the Holy Spirit. There’s a congregation – the sweaty, pulsating audience, there are idols – our iconic ‘Rock Gods’ – and there’s plenty of symbolism. There’s also scripture and sermons in the form of our favourite lyrics – music and religion often overlap. Oft have rock ‘n roll and Christianity been aligned – every sane person’s least favourite genre of music Christian Rock has helped sell tens of dozens of records in the good ol’ US of A, while genres like punk thrive on Christianity’s easily invertible mythology.

But recently more non-believing rock fans like myself, who realise that their love of music is similar to people’s faith in omnipotent deities; have taken this idea to new extremes. As the result of a campaign started by the UK’s favourite generic metal rag Metal Hammer, thousands of rock fans have promised to convert to the UK’s latest faith, as they join a fast-growing internet campaign to see Heavy Metal recognised as a religion in the 2011 census. Hot on the heels of 2001’s campaign to have Jedi officially acknowledged, hordes of hairy and unwashed teenagers have banded together to attempt to shout out loud their love of metal on their census paper. Rock ‘n roll internet campaigns are enjoying an unwarranted level of popularity – as you all know, Rage Against The Machine followed up on their promise of guerrilla radio as ‘Killing In The Name Of’ blasted some Simon Cowell-bred nitwit off the Christmas Number One spot at the end of last year. But can Heavy Metal really justify itself as a religion, and could this be the next Kabbalah or Scientology? Even better, could Heavy Metal be the way to end all religions, and unite all peoples of the world in a perfect harmony as predicted in the classic film Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey? Quite possibly.

Think about it. Iconic pantheon of Gods? Check – Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motörhead. Ozzy, Lemmy and company are pretty much equal in power to the characters on Mount Olympus, except the myths are funnier. For example, the myth of Saint Ozzy Osbourne snorting a line of ants to impress Mötley Crüe. Or the other myth of Saint Ozzy urinating on the Alamo. Truly miraculous. And of course the scripture: read Metal Bible ‘The Dirt’ by the aforementioned Crüe for an insight into Heavy Metal Law. In a nutshell: snort, drink, smoke and fuck your way through life and somehow survive, all while banging your head. Of course, being a faith primarily based on music there’s plenty of hymns, ‘Denim and Leather’ by Saxon being one of the most acute. ‘Denim, and leather, brought us all together; it was you that set the spirit free’ Biff Byford sings. Biff Byford is a silly man who Spinal Tap based a good few of their jokes on. He was also the first big metal name was to show support for the campaign and will become Heavy Metal’s ‘World Metal Peace Ambassador’ if the campaign proves successful. Other hymns, such as Manowar’s ‘Kings Of Metal’, further outline the commandments and correct attire that one must adhere to in order to be accepted into the faith: ‘True metal people wanna rock, not pose: wearin’ jeans and leather, not cracker jack clothes,’ they laudably wail. Aside from these obvious religious constructs, the real testament to Metal’s success is its legion of fans. Practitioners of the Heavy Metal faith have infiltrated almost every walk of life – like the Freemasons, metalheads are as likely to exist in IT support as they are as Heads of State. They fill arenas that the Church of England could never pray to occupy. What’s even better, people are rarely baptised in metal as children – rather than an indoctrinating faith Metal is a religion you buy into yourself.

There’s one thing the UK can be proud of giving to the world, and its not Shakespeare or Americans. Heavy Metal was born in Birmingham, and has created an Empire far stronger than the Commonwealth. If ever there was a Church of England, it’s Heavy Metal, so it’s time to say a Hard Rock Hallelujah, and join that congregation. The imagery of Metal (crucifixes, old churches, and the arcane) is very similar to England’s old faith; it wouldn’t be much of a jump. The core beliefs that set Heavy Metal out from the pack – be true to yourself and compromise for no-one – are as noble, if not more noble than the fundamentals of any other religion. Metal, if taken as such, is in some ways the ultimate modern faith. A belief in the power of music and appreciation of human expression seems spot on to me. Considering the aptitude of Heavy Metal as a religion, one can only hope to be ticking the box on the census with a smile in 2011. As Alexander Milas, Editor of Metal Hammer says, “Like a lot of good ideas, this one came about in a pub and the response online has been overwhelming. It only reinforces the belief that Heavy Metal remains strong in its UK birthplace and across the globe. If the Jedi can do it, then we can too. Our only requirement to join our campaign is that you listen to heavy metal, our commandment: everything louder than everyone else.” Manowar once sang, ‘The Gods Made Heavy Metal and they saw that it was good.’ You’d better believe it.

To join the campaign, please visit – http://www.facebook.com/heavymetal2011census

To observe Manowar preaching the metal gospel witness – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srhGMxOWviw&feature=related

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