Should I feel guilty about my musical tastes?

Ok. Before I say anything about the music I listen to, I want to point out that I am, in fact, a philosophy student, and when I view music, I generally view it as a philosophy student.

For me, the beauty of music is in harmony, proportion, melody, etc. For me, music is an arrangement of sounds which are designed to be delightful to the ear. For this reason, I am highly sympathetic to those who love Classical music. I can see why that would be the case.

Generally speaking, it’s the music that delights me, and lyrics for me are entirely secondary. The best that singing can achieve in a song is not lyrical content, but the actual sound of the singing.

For this reason, though I think that Nietzsche is probably one of the worst philosophers of all time, he’ll always be a better writer than…say…St. Thomas Aquinas, who was a much better philosopher than Nietzsche. The sound of the German in Nietzsche’s writing is apparently beautiful, whereas St. Thomas Aquinas wasn’t writing for the sake of beauty (obviously, this doesn’t hold true of St. Thomas Aquinas’ hymns).

For this reason, for example, I think that those people who think that Wagnerian Operas should be translated from the original language are absolutely misguided.

On that note, I love “church music.” Gregorian chant delights me. Even a lot of the modern hymns are beautiful to me (for example, the hymn “Holy Darkness”). Yet, I completely despise modern Christian music (gospel music, “Christian rock,” etc…). “Christian music” for me is a code name for “unoriginal, repetitive, boring, poorly written nonsense.”

No. I prefer bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Kreator, etc. These are bands that actually write songs that sound amazing. They write songs that actually require musical skill to write. Unfortunately…herein lies my dilemma:

I don’t think that anyone is going to deny that the first minute of this song is absolutely breath taking. Anyone who likes thrash metal will agree that the entire song (music only, lyrics and vocals aside) absolutely rocks.

But then, we have the lyrics…which ultimately end like so:

And I saw millions of souls
Preparing for the last incarnation
No more earthly pleasures no more life’s temptation
And the ghosts of long forgotten sociaties
Cast out wicked dreams from the heart of the lost
The future is drowning in the ashes of the past
And through the toxic stench of human tragedy
A saviour appears in a red mask in front of me

Same with this song. The musicianship is amazing. The guitars are fantastic! Truly, the words of Leibniz are not to be doubted here when he says (and I might be paraphrasing) “Music is the joy the soul apprehends when it counts, not knowing that it counts.”

Yet, we have the lyrics!

With the fire comes the storm
Death will call you’ll wish you were never born
Infernos demons crawl from the deepest abyss
Dawn of a dying race apocalypse

Here is a cool song by Slayer…that drips with anti-Christian imagery:

The pestilence of Jesus Christ
There never was a sacrifice
No man upon the crucifix
Beware the cult of purity
Infectious imbecility
I’ve made my choice

I dont’ know. I try to stave off the guilt by telling myself that the lyrics are all metaphorical, and are more social commentary (in the Nietzchean sense) than anything. That even if these bands are atheist or whatever, that they probably aren’t entirely “anti Christian,” so to speak. And I think that’s the feeling that you’d get in an interview with…say…Kreator:

So what are your views on religion in general? Do you think there is any good to be found or is it just a means of control over something and is all negative?

I don´t think it is all negative. There´s people who do need religion. If it helps you, if you have to follow a religion to define yourself then that´s your thing. Whatever you´re happy with I´m just saying that I question everything. I would never say that religion is bad because that would be too much. There are some good things about religion but it´s very hard to see the good parts because it´s caused a lot of bad things. I´d say that religion definitely has to do with control but if you have a strong personality you can get something good out of religion which I don´t see because I´m thinking differently. I don´t want to judge people who follow a religion because I think that´s their thing. If they think that´s what makes them happy then ok that´s find with me.


I don’t know. What do y’all think?

I wouldn’t feel guilty about it: it’s no worse than thinking the Inferno section of Dante’s Divine Comedy is better written than the Paradiso, or that Milton’s Paradise Lost is better written than his Paradise Regained. Like you, I get bored to tears by Christian Contemporary “Music” – if I’m going to listen to religious-themed music, I will break out the Gregorian chant and Palastrina CDs; if I hear “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” one more time, I am going to scream ( I can’t even sing that one any more, since my brain starts to think “blah blah blah bah-blah blah blah” when I hear it >.< ). It’s art, and art is about truth, and the truth is, there is evil in this world and there is a sentient, spiritual entity behind much of it, pulling the strings. :: Points to the second section of her signature::

If you’re feeling guilty about it, then there’s something you need to investigate.

I do know that the only way I’d want to listen to something praising the devil and his works would be if a “bad guy” character in a musical was singing it. Then I’d know he was going to get his comeuppance.

Also, don’t the words repeat themselves in your head, when you hum the music? I know that happens to me. In fact, I frequently find myself humming things that relate to the situation I’m in. I suddenly realize what I’m telling myself!

I would hate to catch myself humming “Beware the cult of purity, Infectious imbecility, I’ve made my choice, 666!”

Of course, that assumes the tunes are hummable. Read further!

I listened to the intros to the first two songs you listed, and liked them. Not so much as some other music, but, yes, they qualify as music in my book. Like you, I think “the beauty of music is in harmony, proportion, melody, etc.” I wouldn’t mind owning an album full of that intro music, especially the first one.

But two seconds later, I was outa there without even hearing the lyrics. The first - that’s not singing. It’s just an ugly noise.

On the next one, the second it went from something like fingerstyle guitar to all that noise, I was gone. Is that why they call it “thrash?” That’s what it sounded like. Guitar abuse.

I find that music like that puts me on edge and makes me tense. Maybe that’s a personal thing, or maybe it’s generational. But I was around when the Rolling Stones were new, and most of their biggest hits had the same effect on me.

I don’t like screaming or yelling, whether vocal or instrumental. There are much more musical ways to get anger and despair across, if you feel the need. Plus, the folks that sing this way will eventually destroy their vocal cords.

Praying for all musicians,


P.S. I agree with you about most Christian pop - but I listen anyway (when I want background music with a beat), because I’d rather be listening to lightweight stuff like that than to something promoting immorality. It’s kind of like elevator music with good morals. :rolleyes:

I love music, so it’s hard for me to cast any stones towards anyone else’s tastes.

Just a thought, have you tried listening to “Unblack Metal?” The same style of music, but with Christian lyrics. Wikipedia has an article on it,

I feel for these bands like Horde (which kicks so much ***), Crimson Moonlight and Frost Like Ashes. They aren’t accepted in their own musical community because of ties to the Faith, and aren’t accepted by members of the faith because of their ties to that “unholy form of music.” They definitely need prayers to stay strong.

Check them out whenever you get a chance, and keep rocking out!

P.S. I know what you mean by Christian music sounding not up to par. I stick with Jars of Clay, Plumb, and Matt Maher, although those aren’t nearly as hard as the stuff you like.:wink:

You might stop by the Heavy Metal thread. :slight_smile:

I can’t really comment on Slayer or Kreator as I’m not familiar with them. Myself, I can usually tolerate songs that are critical of organized religion or Christianity, but if they start talking about Satan as a savior, I’d be very skeptical. Of course, many metal bands do speak metaphorically or hyperbolically and require a look at the context of the whole song.

For example, Dream Theater’s song “In the Presence of Enemies, part 2” says:

Dark Master within, I will fight for you
Dark Master of sin, now my soul is yours
Dark Master, my guide, I will die for you
Dark Master inside…

This sounds really bad, but considering that the larger context of song is about one man’s struggle for redemption and that the final line of the song is “I do **not **fight for you Dark Master”, the lyrics are not what they at first appear to be. The song is telling a story of internal spiritual warfare and these words capture the dark moments before redemption comes.

Ben Wiker’s book Moral Darwinism traces back much of the current hedonism to the philosophy of Epicurus. Whether or not you but the premise of the book, it does bring up some interesting points. Wiker talks about how Epicurus’ philosophy went largely overlooked until the discovery of Lucretius and his poetry about Epicureanism. Christian philosophers realized that the philosophy was opposed to Christianity, but the Latin poetry of Lucretius was so beautiful that it started to get circulated. Thus, it became the honey on the rim of the glass to make the poison of Epicurus’ philosophy go down.

If we are firm in our faith, it likely won’t cause us to lose our faith, but I don’t think we can totally ignore the lyrical content, either.

Actually, I think that’s probably the thing that’s the main thing about metal for me. The lyrics aren’t what metal is about. Unlike pop musicians, metal bands do make purely instrumental songs.

Here’s a good example of a purely instrumental song by Megadeth. Here’s an example by Metallica (Kirk Hammet’s solos in this one are breathtaking…check out the one about 3 minutes and 20 seconds in).

And look, if you just don’t like the sound of a distorted guitar, I don’t think there’s any denying that the arrangements of the notes themselves make a beautiful song. Here’s some guy’s cover on an acoustic guitar of the latter song.

The thing about metal is that, much of the time (if not most of the time), the lyrics aren’t written first. The music is written first, and the lyrics are written after (I think that James Hetfield says something to this effect on Some Kind of Monster).

For example, if you listen to the song In My Darkest Hour, you’ll probably be surprised to realize that the lyrics have *absolutely nothing *to do with the music. Dave Mustaine wrote the lyrics after hearing about the death of Cliff Burton (bassist for Metallica). The lyrics are about an ex-girlfriend of his. So yeah, nothing to do with each other.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the lyrics are indeed catchy. Some songs are, I am sure, have a very tight relation between lyrics and music. This one, I feel safe in saying, probably have a very close relation between lyrics and music. Mustaine wrote it after a former band member stole a bunch of his musical equipment to fuel his drug addiction. And indeed, if you listen to the song, you’ll find that the music ultimately has the force of reinforcing the lyrics. “You take great pride in never have lived up to anything.* BUM BUM BUM*!”

But usually, it’s not really like that. The music is entirely seperate from the lyrics. The intro for this song was taken from another song that had been written a couple years prior, when they were still writing stuff for the new album released this year.

On the next one, the second it went from something like fingerstyle guitar to all that noise, I was gone. Is that why they call it “thrash?” That’s what it sounded like. Guitar abuse.

Thrash metal is a fusion of New Wave of British Heavy Metal and punk rock. Generally speaking, NWoBHM tends to have fairly complex song structures, and a heavily distorted guitar sound (it gives a “fuller” sound that can be better held over a period of time). For example, considerIron Man or Fairies Wear Boots.

You don’t seem to like the distorted sound of the guitar. Simply put, it generally has a better sound than the accoustic when it comes to guitar solos. Consider the difference between the solos in Fade to Black when done normally and when done acoustically. The solos just sounds better. Not to mention that it gives it a sort of “slamming” effect, which uh…well, it’s more manly. It gives it a more “testosterony” feel.

The problem with NWoBHM (at least in the early 70s) was that it tended to get too complex for its own good. Quoting a certain VH1 special, we’re talking about 20 minute long drum solos. Uh…not cool. Not to mention that, after a while, it takes almost as much as Classical Music to pay attention to it.

For this reason, metal almost died with the advent of a faster, shorter, less complex sort of music…this is to say, mid 70’s punk, with bands like the Sex Pistols. Example here. Generally speaking, punk tends to have fairly simple song structures, but are pretty fast. Not to mention that punk just has a very real sort of attitude, of which you’ll find a real culmination with the hardcore punk bands of the early 80’s like the Misfits. Example here.

In response, a number of metal bands popped which incorporated some of the speed and attitude of punk…for example, Motorhead (see here), Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Diamond Head (See here).


Thrash is the highest culmination of punk and metal. It’s the most punk that you can get without losing the essential metal elements (guitar solos, complex song structures, heavily distorted guitar sound), and the most metal that you can get without losing the punk elements (for example, the speed and the attitude), and without going into something completely outside of punk and metal altogether (for example, as death metal incorporates the “death grunt”). I think you’ll see my point if you consider this song. The music itself, I am sure you will agree, is amazing…but the “death growl” completely messes up the whole song. The “death growl” is a musical element which is neither traditionally punk nor traditionally metal.

As to why it’s called “thrash.” Well…the songs, as I have obviously been working towards, are very complex and very, very fast (ideally, anyways). Needless to say, it’s very hard to keep still while listening to them. The term “thrash” comes from the movements made by the one who hears it. For example, in the song Whiplash (from Metallica’s album Kill Em All), it is explained:

Adrenaline starts to flow
You’re thrashing all around
Acting like a maniac

Bang your head against the stage like you never did before
Make it ring, make it bleed, make it really sore

And in Megadeth’s “Rattlehead” from Killing is My Business…and Business is Good, it is also explained:

Rattle Head
A dose of metal you need
To bang your head til you bleed
It’s time for snapping some neck
Slashing, thrashing to Megadeth

So…yeah. Thrash is fast, it’s complex, and it’s absolutely “slamming,” so to speak, in the sense that it’s really “tough” and masculine. This is the sort of stuff that’s really thrash at its best:

Hit the Lights by Metallica

Last Rites/Loved to Deth by Megadeth

Postmortem and Raining Blood by Slayer (the former is an intro to the latter; the songs “go together”)

Enemy of God by Kreator (the intro is as thrashy as you get)

One last thing…you referenced the bad singing. I think that’s just how they sing. Tom Araya (lead singer for Slayer) completely messed up Born to be Wild, and you seriously do not wanna hear James Hetfield’s cover of Alice in Chains. These guys are professional guitarists/bassists/drummers…not professional singers. >_>

I hope this clarifies everything?

P.S. I agree with you about most Christian pop - but I listen anyway (when I want background music with a beat), because I’d rather be listening to lightweight stuff like that than to something promoting immorality. It’s kind of like elevator music with good morals. :rolleyes:

Buh! Elevator music. :frighten:


Good question, I have come across this music (dio, slayer, etc…) and here is my opinion. The Bible says that the eye is the window to the soul, meaning that what you allow your eye to see, your soul will think is okay. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can see through it; because this music seems to be laced with lies. Now, that I have ripped into your taste of music, I will admit that I also listened to this stuff and watched a lot of violent and sexually immoral stuff, but I now avoid these things. If I am in an environment where they exist, I try my best to leave and/or pray to not let these things influence me negatively. In the end we will not only be accounted for everything we say and do, but also for every thought. This might make it sound like we have no chance, but remember this is why Jesus died for our sins and why if we believe in him and repent, sin loses its power. I do not think that listening to music or watching a movie that is violent is necessarily a sin but it would be hard to justify its purpose otherwise.

Yes, I think you should feel guilty!

From the description what beauty is there to it? Music should be beautiful. That kind of music is destructive to cell tissue, much less the soul. It leaves you open or close to succumbing to temptation. Why try to see how close to the edge of the cliff you can get without falling off? is it worth the risk to your soul?

When I converted I burned all my music because I recognized what a hold it had on my life and that it was a part of the kingdom of Darkness from which we had just escaped by Baptism.

Oh yes, Led Zeppelin’s, Stairway to Heaven", was among them. Fr. Corapi relates how he was in the recording studio and heard them dedicate that song to Satan.

Do the right thing, get rid of it and don’t listen to it!

Well, you shouldn’t feel guilty about your tastes. Liking it [or anything else] isn’t a problem. It’s how or whether you follow those natural inclinations that determine whether you’ve sinned or not.

I think you have to honestly look at the effect it has on you, how you feel, how you see and treat people while and after listening. If it doesn’t lead you to sexual or violent feelings, if you can listen to it and give glory to God for the beauty of it, I really don’t think you need to worry.

There was a period in my teens when metal made me testy. The pure driving energy made it easier to be cruel. Now it doesn’t, it just gets me the extra boost I sometimes need to get through my work.

I disagree completely.

Not all music must be beautiful. Music is the universal language, so it covers the whole spectrum. Aggressive music is very important in my opinion. It just doesn’t make sense to limit what music you hear.

As a musician I especially realize the importance of having no limits to what I’ll listen to.

So to the OP, no you should never ever ever feel guilty about the music you listen to.

This is good advice.

Music affects people differently. My wife cannot listen to metal because it makes her feel agitated. It doesn’t do that for me. Some people really do need to burn their CD collection once they experience a conversion to Christ. Others do not. I know some people who had to do that because the music would “take them back” to the time when they were living an immoral life. Thus the music would bring to the present those things from the past that they want to leave behind. But it doesn’t do that for everyone.

We do need to monitor what we take in (whether it be music, TV, literature, etc.). We don’t want to let out guard down and assume that we’re “above the influence”. We need to be honest with ourselves about how we are being affected.

However, we do not want to go to the opposite extreme and assume that our will is so weak that we are easily manipulated by anything and everything that comes before us. That may be true for some people, but I don’t think it’s true for most. If we run away from anything that can possibly have a negative influence, we would probably have to live in a cloister. Better to pray for the grace to remain steadfast.

Fr. Corapi was there when Led Zeppelin recorded “Stairway to Heaven”? That story seems a little far-fetched to me. I did a goodle search for “Corapi”, “Stairway to Heaven” and “Led Zeppelin” and the only hit that says anything about it is a link to this thread where you mention it. If you have a source, it would be nice to see.

There are lots of urban legends regarding metal / hard rock bands (i.e. Alice Cooper biting the head off a chicken). We need to be careful to separate fact from fiction. We don’t want to spread falsehoods.

Hi, Scholastic - well, now I’m laughing at myself…

Thank you for the essay. You’re right; I don’t like distorted guitar. Partly because I’ve been blessed - or cursed - with perfect pitch, and off-tone music is actually painful for me to listen to. I’m not talking about a slide.

And that testosterone quality you names really puts me off, and in more than just music. Not to the point of liking wimpy men - I just don’t like those who are aggressive for no reason. I like brains and thughtfulness with my brawn.

I listened to the acoustic version that you linked to, and it makes me wish I could listen to more. So I get your point about the complex tunes. Queen was very good at that; Bohemian Rhapsody is still a favorite of mine. But they did it without screeching!

As for singing - well, I’ve sung in choirs all my life, and had a couple of years of voice lessons, so I know how singing should be produced. I’m not being judgmental. The body is an instrument just like a guitar. When properly played, it makes a beautiful noise. Badly played, it’s not so lovely, and can ruin the instrument. Not to mention the quality of the instrument… ever heard a guitar that won’t stay in tune? Ergh.

What had me laughing is this: after listening to the acoustic song, I thought that I’d probably like “the highest culmination of punk and metal” if it was scored for orchestra. Then my irreverent brain rolled with that thought, and came up with …

punk/metal elevator music!

And I’m sure it will happen some day. I first started feeling old when the first of “my” rock showed up in an elevator. I felt nauseated, too. :frowning:

God bless us all, especially “Lucille,”


Regarding Fr. Corapi and Stairway: Led Zepplin recorded Stairway in 1971, in London.

Father Corapi would have been 24, so he should have been out of the army, whether he was working on his bachelors in accounting I don’t know-- it’s from Pace in New York, ‘in the seventies’-- but he certainly wasn’t the mover and shaker he was supposed to be later, in LA.

Nothing I can find on Fr. Corapi indicates he spent anytime in London or hung with the elite Rock & Roll crowd at that early period. He didnt’ start using drugs till a party in Beverly Hills much later.

Now, Stairway is a very covered song: he may well have heard someone somewhere dedicate their version to Satan, but I’m very skeptical that is was the original.

If you want a very different but enchanting version, check out Dolly Partons-- seriously, the woman can wail:

Now, if you do click that link, you’ll see there’s a ton of videos that claim to prove that there’s a backwards message, etc. Frankly, I doubt it very much. If I had time, I’d get some sermons by the baptist minister that started all that fuss, play them backwards, see what emerged: by nature, we try to make sense of things, and we tend to find what we are looking for, even if it isn’t really there [Anyone want to buy my potato chip that looks just like the 12 apostles at a bowling alley?].

@ Ruthie:

It’s interesting you brought up the “orchestra” idea. A number of thrash/metal songs have been played (some professionally) on orchestral instruments. For example, Apocalyptica (a cello band) did a cover of One, Master of Puppets, Nothing Else Matters, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Fade to Black (all by Metallica), and they also did Angel of Death (by Slayer). Apparently they also did a cover of Seek and Destroy (Metallica) live.

You can find a number of piano/keyboard covers on youtube. For your enjoyment:

Fade to Black (Apocalyptica) <-- If this cover doesn’t move you emotionally, there’s something wrong with you. >_>

Master of Puppets (Apocalyptica) <-- A true masterpiece

Seek and Destroy (Apocalyptica live) <-- This is pretty decent

For Whom the Bell Tolls (Apocalyptica) <-- Absolutely Epic

One (Apocalyptica) <-- Absolutely Fantastic

Nothing Else Matters (Apocalyptica) <-- Pretty good

Angel of Death (Apocalyptica) <-- Sounds better to me personally on the guitar…you’d probably like it better than the original. Dunno.

Day That Never Comes (Metallica) on the piano <-- Absolutely fantastic

End of the Line (Metallica) on the piano <-- All of her covers are awesome; same girl playing as the previous link.


Don’t feel guilty about your musical tastes. There are a lot of metalheads that are good and faithful Catholics. I should know.

As for distorted guitars what do you think of Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral.” Or how about Burton’s bass solo in “Anesthesia”?


If metal was all you listened to, then yeah, you should feel guilty. If metal is part of a wide appreciation of music, then there is lots of leeway in my estimation. I do however, try to avoid music that is deliberately ugly or blasphemous.

Personally, I didn’t really find anything special with that first song. I don’t know if I’d like listening to music that has references to the devil and all that. Hip-hop songs with its sexified lyrics are bad enough and could lead people to temptation and a lot of metal lyrics seem really sketchy.

I like electric guitar and all, but the lyrics do make a difference in a song.

Thanks, Scholastic. I’ve got the first one running right now. Just what I needed - a way for me to be able to listen - and no awful lyrics!

I take it Apocalyptica is a group that does this? I may just add them to my Amazon wish list…

Your turn. Here is a favorite aria of mine, orchestral version. I hope you can crank it up enough to hear it.

Thanks again, and God bless.


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