Posts Tagged ‘WASP’

As a Christian Metalhead, I have been increasingly surprised over the last few years  by how many ‘big profile’ Metal musicians have either converted to Christianity or come back to Christianity after a ‘extended hiatus’. Alice Cooper (honorary Metal artist), Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson of Megadeth, Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, Head of Korn, Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. to name but a few. I’ve heard many people discuss much publicised ‘celebrity conversions’ and the usual conclusion arrived at is “oh, of course he/she is – so is the Queen…”. The artists I mentioned above are prominent in the world of Metal, and each is highly regarded in each of their respective fields/sub-genres. I have heard each of their testimonies either on podcast discussions, video interviews on YouTube or occasionally (and I say this with much embarrassment) on The God Channel – these conversions and testimonies are all the real deal.

Heavy Metal music has been largely ignored and derided by the majority of the Christian community in recent years, yet still we see many musicians in Metal come to Christ despite many Christians (particularly in America) essentially going on very public ‘witchhunts’ against the above mentioned artists. Admittedly, much of this occurred in the eighties during many of the above artists commercial and creative peaks, however, incidents like these would be enough for me to be put off by Christianity if I was a non-Christian…

Now, despite many Christians upon hearing of these new converts, being a) somewhat surprised and b) happy that Jesus has ‘saved’ these artists – I have heard many people question the validity of these new convert’s spiritual integrity in relation to their current artistic status. For example, one argument I heard was “How can Alice Cooper call himself a Christian, yet still perform under the name Alice Cooper?’; Alice Cooper was apparently the name of a 17th Century witch who manifested itself during a session with a Ouija Board. I also heard rumblings that Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson are hypocrites because they are in a band called Megadeth and how can Nicko McBrain play drums in a band who have a song called ‘The Number of the Beast’. These questions are quite valid ones, which I will attempt to answer here (or at least discuss)…

There appear to be two extremes of celebrity converts (particularly in the world of music) – those who completely abandon their current path as an artist and choose to ‘do the Christian circuit’ instead; and those who adapt their craft to incorporate their new-found faith.

Korn’s Head is an example of a musician who turned his back on his lifestyle and band as a result of his conversion. W.A.S.P.’s Blackie Lawless, on the other hand, is an example of an artist who has chosen to adapt his craft to incorporate his faith. To put this particular example in context, one of W.A.S.P.’s first singles was called ‘Animal…” which essentially broke them into the mainstream and due to the explicit nature of the song’s lyrics, gained notoriety amongst the media, fans and more infamously, the PMRC headed by Tipper Gore.

As a result of Blackie’s recent conversion, he has chosen not to play the song live, despite it being a fan favourite and causing much disappoint for those wishing to hear it at gigs. As a massive fan of W.A.S.P. and a Christian, I find it encouraging that Blackie has chosen to “amend” his art to incorporate his faith, however, the fact that he still performs the song “L.O.V.E. Machine” does slightly confuse me. The new W.A.S.P. album entitled “Babylon” was Blackie’s first post-conversion record and this is prominent in the lyrics. For instance, in the song “Live to Die Another Day” he sings, “I was hellbound and now I’m running free…” and this is one of the many examples of him sharing his testimony through his lyrics throughout the album. The ironic thing about this is, when I recently saw them perform at Nottingham’s Rock City, they played three new songs from what essentially is a Christian record, throughout the performance I was amazed at how often female fans were lifting up their tops for the band! Anyway, I digress…

 

It must be incredibly difficult for someone, such as those mentioned above, to balance a new faith with a legacy of music that has sold millions of records and impacted millions of lives. However, I believe that these artists are in a prime position to be able to share their testimonies and spread the gospel to those listening. This doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Bible-Bashing’ but merely sharing in a way where others do not feel like an artist is preaching from a soapbox. When asked about ‘Bible-Bashing’, I have heard interviews with both Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine where they both disagree with the notion and agree that the best way to share their faith is when people ask about it. Apparently both are active Church-goers, but have chosen not to use their stature and platform as artists to force their beliefs on other people. Whilst many Christians may think that this approach may be compromising the Christian mandate of spreading the gospel at every opportunity, I can appreciate that it may actually be beneficial in the long-run in terms of maintaining their own personal journey with God, not getting burnt out (as many celeb converts do) and also leaving some of the artistic integrity intact. I believe that being a good example of a Christian and sharing a testimony can actually stimulate more interest in Christianity and promote discussions of faith.

There have many instances, where recently I have questioned the integrity of faith of some of the artists mentioned above, for instance, Dave Mustaine’s recent autobiography contains many profanities and stories of questionable Christian content which has left me wondering whether the conversion thing was in fact the real deal. However, I have come to the conclusion that everyone is on a journey in terms of their faith and more importantly despite these people being in the limelight, it isn’t up to the public to judge “how Christian” someone is. I do feel that these artists do have a certain duty to be good examples of a Christian in public (as we all do), however, we should be encouraged that even some of the most notorious Metalheads (Blackie Lawless, Dave Mustaine, Alice Cooper) can find a relationship with God, despite their reputations from thing they did in the past.

 

As a Christian Metalhead, I get really excited when an artist I love becomes a Christian, not only because they have found relationship with God, but also the impact that it may have on their fans and their art. Being a Christian and a Metalhead is a difficult position to be in sometimes – when I was at Bible college many people found issue with my music taste, stating that Metal music was satanic and contradictory to Christian beliefs, so for me, when Metal artists find Jesus, hopefully, it can encourage other Christians that God is still at work even in the otherwise ignored Metal community.

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