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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heavy Metal Heritage: Metal as Religion?

Via the always awesome Neatorama comes this item from the UK Telegraph:

Fans campaign for heavy metal to be recognised as religion
From the article:

They are being asked to officially register their faith as ''heavy metal'' while filling in the next Census questionnaire...Rock magazine Metal Hammer launched its campaign last week and has already attracted nearly 10,000 followers to a Facebook group...
It has even gained the backing of a metal figurehead, Saxon frontman Biff Byford, whom the magazine says will become the proposed faith's ''world metal peace ambassador'' if the campaign proves successful.

If you are unfamiliar with Saxon or Biff Byford here's the video for the 1981 New Wave of British Heavy Metal Anthem, Denim and Leather:

This movement is partly inspired by the recognition of Jedi as a religion by several English speaking nations in 2001.

Of course Metal has a long history of viewing itself in quasi-religious terms. A fine example is Judas Priest's 1984 album, Defenders of the Faith.

The album had this quote on the back cover:
"Rising from darkness where Hell hath no mercy and the screams for vengeance echo on forever. Only those who keep the faith shall escape the wrath of the Metallian... Master of all metal."
Sounds biblical, in a metal sort of way...

You also have the examples of bands with religous sounding names like Metal Church, Armored Saint, Iron Savior, and of course Black Sabbath. Sabbath is largely responsible for a lot of the religious imagery in metal. Ozzy Osbourne wore large crosses from the very earliest days of Black Sabbath.

There is also a metal obsession with angels, particularly fallen ones. You have bands like Death Angel and Angel Witch as well as albums like Angel of Retribution (Judas Priest), Angels Fall First (Nightwish) and Angel Down (Sebastian Bach). I'm sure there are literally hundreds of other examples of fallen angels in lyrics, song titles and artwork throughout the history of metal.

Here is a rather lengthy piece on heavy metal and it's similiarities to and odd relationship with religion.

If they're successful in their attempt to have metal officially recognized as a religion, maybe this could be the official uniform of the faith.

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