The band Black Sabbath is widely recognised as the first heavy metal band, as a quick Google search will easily confirm. They are often listed along with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as the three primary influences on vintage metal. With Black Sabbath being by far the most often credited as the first true heavy metal band.
These three bands were massive influenes on my mid-late teenage life — and then again, on and off, in later years. This was a long time before I became a Christian. And as soon as I started to get involved with this genre — and I got heavily involved — my life took a major turn for the worse. In some ways (including physically), it still hasn't fully recovered.
There are two main ways that music was a massive negative influence on my pre-Christian life. One was the spiritual aspect. Which not everyone believes in. Not even all Christians. Some Christians believe that Christians are immune to this kind of problem, and I think some even deny its existence outright. Yet the Bible clearly tells us that not only does this world exist, but it's the primary thing that we're here to fight against as Christians. These "principalities and powers", as featured in the Bible verses below, are sometimes refered to by another, more common word — demons.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.
If you have zero belief in spiritual/supernatural/demonic influence, then this is something you may not take much (conscious) notice of. However even with no belief in the supernatural, just the themes of many of the songs in this music genre (and much of modern secular music), in their purely physical sense, are very un-Christian. Like getting drunk, fornication, recreational drugs, worship of self, and so on. And, depending on the band and the song, perhaps actual worship of Satan. This physical side of it (e.g. I developed a drinking problem that took many years to overcome) was the second way that music was a massive negative influence for me.
Now that I've been a Christian for 10 years, what continually amazes me is how lightly these kinds of things are treated by the average population. Including even much of the average Christian population. It seems as if many Christians believe this kind of thing to be nothing that serious — and not something to be thought of that much, nor deliberate steps taken to avoid exposing ourselves and our lives to its influence (which is present almost everywhere in worldly society). Almost as if the demonic world is more like "Monopoly money" than real money. As if it has no real power. Yet it does have real power, and real influence. And can destroy much of people's lives — as is clearly explained in the Bible. I'll be covering this in future in much greater detail, with many examples from scripture and from music.
Resist the Devil, and He Will Flee From You
The Bible also explains how we can be truly and forever freed from this darkess that holds so much of modern society under its spell. And the word "spell" here is not a metaphor — we're talking about the Devil, and his demons, and their influence in a spiritual sense. Yet Christians who are paying attention to these things, and doing the right things, have nothing to fear from any of this. The Bible very clearly tells us that the Devil will flee from us if we resist him (James 4:7). The power of the God's Holy Spirit is much stronger than the Devil. The problem is that so often, and very often just due to misinformation, people allow the Devil to take hold in areas of their lives. Rather than resisting him. This even happens to Christians. Especially to newly-converted ones, such as I once was myself.
Satan's Sitting There, He's Smiling
The first song by the first heavy metal band was inspired by a demonic appearance:
“According to the band, the song was inspired by an experience that Geezer Butler had in the days [when the band was called] Earth. Butler, obsessed with the occult at the time, painted his apartment matte black, placed several inverted crucifixes, and put many pictures of Satan on the walls. Ozzy Osbourne handed Butler a black occult book, written in Latin and decorated with numerous pictures of Satan. Butler read the book and then placed it on a shelf beside his bed before going to sleep. When he woke up, he claims he saw a large black figure standing at the end of his bed, staring at him. The figure vanished and Butler ran to the shelf where he had placed the book earlier, but the book was gone. Butler related this story to Osbourne, who then wrote the lyrics to the song based on Butler's experience.” Source: Wikipedia.
For those not old enough to remember, or were never into this kind of music, Ozzy Osbourne was the original singer of the band Black Sabbath. Based on conversations with people in recent years, more people now have heard of Ozzy than of Sabbath.
This song is how Ozzy's fame began — and it's interesting and unusual to see the force which lies beneath so much of modern worldly culture so clearly exposed:
What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn 'round quick and start to run
Find out I'm the chosen one
Big black shape with eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satan's sitting there, he's smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh, no, no, please, God, help me!
Is it the end, my friend?
Satan's coming 'round the bend
People running 'cause they're scared
The people better go and beware
No, no, please, no!
Not only is this where Ozzy's fame began, but this exact form (and source) of power is the foundation that lies unseen behind so much of the worldly music that ordinary, normal people listen to every day. Note the similarity between the line "Telling people their desire", and what David Wilkerson says about how to discern false doctrine. False doctrine offers you exactly the same thing that Satan does — your desire.
Here are just a few of the things that I "learned" (and which were completely false), from listening over and over and over and over, thousands of times, to the lyrics of these kinds of songs. And I don't mean really extreme, out-there explicitly-devil-worshipping songs. Just normal, everyday rock, pop, and metal songs, as listened to by nearly everyone I knew:
- It's me, myself, alone against the hard, cold, cruel world.
- I have to fight and struggle to have any hope of success.
- Life is only fun when you rebel against things that are constructive and productive and helpful to others — and do destructive things, that are presented as beneficial, but of course in actual fact lead to great problems and pain.
- Sex is the most important and enjoyable thing in this universe.
- Romance plus sex is also sometimes the most enjoyable thing.
- Drinking and taking drugs, once again, is one of the most enjoyable things and leads to a life of fun. When in fact of course the complete opposite is true — if you have any doubt about that, try living with an 80+ year old alcoholic. Or working in a drug and alcohol rehab ward. Or just knowing people who have lived like that for decades (it's even more obvious if those people don't happen to be rich and famous musicians).
- You can't trust anyone but yourself. (Apart from perhaps "metal", which will always be there for you).
- Demonstrating how impressive you are (e.g. by musical skill, having a lot of money, or having a certain look) is critical to having a happy life.
- Being able to learn to be impressive like that (before you can demonstrate it) is similiarly essential.
- Partying and living it up in the moment will lead to future happiness.
- Doing the things that the song lyrics suggest that you do will lead to some sort of luck and a higher power (or something) which will end up with your life being better in the future (when of course the complete opposite is true).
- There is no God.
- There is no loving saviour who awaits you in heaven, and is watching over you, and with you right now, waiting for you to accept him and his gift of salvation.
- There is no heaven (John Lennon, one of the most famous musicians ever, pretty much said it literally).
- There is no hell, other than a fun place to party with your friends.
- Sex, drugs, money, looks, popularity, and especially music are your gods.
- Perhaps even more than those, the most important thing in life (other than, maybe, sex) is entertainment. The true meaning of life is entertainment. And it has to be just the right type, in just the right style, made just the right way, by just the right people.
- Everything else in life is just a stepping stone to be gotten out of the way, as quickly as possible, on the way to experiencing even more entertainment.
- You know best what's right for you (even though what "you" know is just a re-hash of all the things you've learned from worldly sources such as being discussed right here, so it's not you at all that's making your decisions, while you believe it's all coming from your own free will and desire).
- Therefore, doing what you (think you) want in any given moment will lead to the best outcome.
- There's no higher power or authority that you can rely on nor trust — other than what you can claw out of the music and other forms of advice, which, as you age, increasingly show their true colours as a false path that leads you to misery.
- There's no ultimate reference point for advice (such as the Bible).
- Old things are intrinsically worth less than new things. Except perhaps a few "classic" things which are really old, like perhaps 20 or 30 or even 40 years old, which can, in a few rare cases, be more valuable than newer things.
- Everything important goes out of date every few years, and only new things are worth paying attention to. Which means you must constantly be keeping up to date by changing many things about yourself and the way you life (and look, and do things, and talk, etc., etc.)
- And much much more... (I'm sure I'll think of a whole lot more later)...
I'll be writing a lot more in future about how this kind of influence sneaked into my life, and what it's effects were, and how I began the long journey of escape from them. And my conversion to Christianity, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ — by far the best and most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life.