May 052012

I think Saturday mornings are probably the worst possible time for any kind of serious discussion, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. It’s an even worse time for a serious discussion on this blog, because it’s the weakest day of the week in terms of our readership. I watch the page hits on this site because I lead a pathetic life in which my happiness depends on how many people stop at NCS, and so I know that Saturday’s are weak. But this new video is on my mind at the moment, so I’m going with it on this Saturday morning despite the fact that the subject matter is serious and controversial.

The band is War of Ages. In the minds of many metalheads, they have two strikes against them: First, they’re a metalcore band.  Second, they’re an openly Christian band. I’ve been a long-time fan of this band, for reasons that have very little to do with the religious zeal that inspires their songs. I just think their music has an honest passion behind it that translates into powerfully ass-kicking music. I’m not the only one around here who’s a fan: Andy Synn devoted one of his SYNN REPORTS to War of Ages, and he summed up their appeal better than I could:

“[T]he self-belief and honest expression of this band also shines out like a beacon of integrity in a sea of populist, lowest-common-denominator swill, striking a chord with their direct and passionate approach. It does help, though, that the group can also all play their instruments to an impressive level, particularly the band’s two guitarists, who peel off an array of stunning riffs and shining solos with recognisable passion and fury.”

The subject of this post is a video released yesterday for a song called “Silent Night”. The song is from the album Return To Life, which is out now on Facedown Records. It deals with the death of a child and the impact of that on a young mother and father.

I can’t make out all the lyrics, and I haven’t found an official source that tells me what they are. But as best I can make them out, and as I interpret the video, it poses a question: When tragedy strikes — particularly the kind of devastating tragedy that would come from the loss of your child, would you “fall out”? Would you surrender your own life in the face of that loss? Would you let it destroy you?

Those are damned good questions. But this video suggests an answer that seems far to easy, far too unrealistic. It’s a profession of faith in the face of an event that, honestly, should destroy faith, or at least shake it at its foundations. I suppose it will appeal to the faithful, perhaps with the exception of those who really have lived through the loss of a child or have children who have been damaged in some serious way. And then, I wonder how much comfort the concept behind the video would really provide.

Having said that, I come back to Andy’s comments. Undeniably, this band’s music is inspired by great passion in their beliefs, and that passion fuels songs that are emotionally powerful, whether you subscribe to the beliefs or not. Honest passion, to my way of thinking, is a big part of what makes metal worth hearing or not. The passion can come from many places — music that embodies a passionate disdain for religion and institutional order can be equally honest and equally powerful in its emotions.  Neither believers nor non-believers can claim a monopoly on the core of energy that separates good metal from mere posing.

Check this out — I think the song is a good one regardless of what you think about its message — and let me know your impressions, if you feel up to it on this Saturday. That’s what the Comment section is for.


War of Ages is on Facebook here.

  33 Responses to “WAR OF AGES: “SILENT NIGHT””

  1. Well, if nothing else, the video was good for a laugh. In particular, the scene of the parents smiling like sociopaths and holding hands.

    I’m personally not a big fan of the hardcore rappy/shouty/badassery vocals, so the music was not my style. It seemed competently performed within its genre expectations, so no complaints there.

    But the “point” of the song was kinda…petty. Full disclosure, I am what you could a “New Atheist.” Apparently. I’m not sure where that designation comes from, but most of the people who write about atheism that I read fall under that designation and I tend to agree with them, so, sure, why not, I’m a New Atheist. (If you prefer, I guess you could call me an Angry Atheist. I like that because of the alliteration.) So, I find the whole point of the song somewhat conniving.

    It seems to be preying on people who are in a severely weakened emotional state (not unlike psychics who use cold reading and desperate people to get rich) by suggesting that if you had faith you would not be in pain. Even worse, it also suggests that if you feel pain but claim to be faithful, your faith is a lie. That kind of message seems like it would only do more to increase parents’ pain.

    I realize that the point is supposed to be an offer of comfort, but I don’t see how it could be comforting to anyone but the most fervent to be told that you should feel nothing but peace when your child dies. That’s like Scientoligists telling people to stop taking anti-depressants.

    In the end though, if someone is faithful, whatever, that’s cool, I guess they’d probably enjoy this video. But it seems incredibly manipulative to me.

    Also, Islander, if it makes you feel better, I constantly watch the readership numbers for my blog too. I feel like skipping every time it breaks 50 views in one day. So, not often. :p


      I wouldn’t be hurt if everyone looked at that and just went: TL;DR.

      Fuck me.

      • Nope, not too long. Also, it will probably be counterbalanced by very short comments from War of Ages fans calling you an asshole. I’m now trying to find the definition of a “New Atheist”.

        • The most famous New Atheist is probably Richard Dawkins. I haven’t actually read his atheism books though, only his biology books. I also like PZ Myer’s blog and most of what I’ve read by Christopher Hitchens.

          I also forgot to mention that I was basing my post on the video, not the lyrical content. I could have simply misinterpreted their message, in which case they’d be right to call me an asshole.

    • From what I understand, faith in God is only part of the grieving process from a Christian perspective, the rest of it being largely secular and realistic ways of coping. Christians mourn just like the rest of us. I highly doubt this video is saying “if you had faith you wouldn’t be in pain,” unless the band has never lost anyone and just thinks that’s how it’ll go. In which case they’re in for a rude awakening.

  2. Remember one of the rules of metal: POST 2000, most any band with 3 words or more in their NAME is utter garbage (except Hail of Bullets & The Devil’s Blood)

  3. Islander doubts me on this and Barge. You know he needs his head examined 🙂

  4. War of Ages is good and I like the new song, but I really was hoping for a War of Ages cover of the Christmas song…

  5. I found the song boring and the imagery trite. The day a self-professed Christian band takes on something more challenging than “faith will get you through hard times” is the day I’ll give it half a chance.

    • The only album I ever heard that sincerely challenged my brain about christianity was Zao’s Funeral of God. However, I guess it technically doesnt count because all though they have a few devout christian members, their message and music is not decisively about god. All of which is to say, I would also love to experience a record that delves into the dogma and mythology of the faith from an “insider’s” perspective, not simply the rudimentary gospel that most christian music ends up sounding like (although to be a fair, I think thats kinda the point; I forget the exact excerpt but theres something in psalms about “singing glorious praise” and “music for god on the ten-stringed lyre”)

  6. Dawkins is a self-important tool.

    Though I hold no belief in god myself, I still appreciate a sincere profession of faith.

    • Agreed. As an atheist, I really have a problem with people like Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens who adopt such a condescending attitude towards the very idea of religion. Presenting an alternative viewpoint and pointing out places where religion has issues (and there are many) are both very well and good, but people like that are just so damn SMUG about it. If you want to change minds, adopting an “I’m right, you’re dumb” attitude is not the way to do it. It might make you feel good, but in the end, the only people who are going to agree with you are the ones who would have anyway. You’ll make the other side dig their heels in and fight back, and you’ll make everyone else think you’re a dick.

  7. I don’t think anyone but a believer could understand why they keep the faith in times of grief. I know I don’t. I don’t have the feeling that God works in my life, and never have, so I can’t really comprehend the feeling a Christian gets when they think He does. And by the same token, I won’t ever be able to truly comprehend the idea of being comforted by religion in times of grief because it’s so different from the way I’ve always thought.

  8. Damn bro, certainly heady stuff for a Saturday morning, good thing I’m not Hung over. Looks like everyone is of sound mind this morning actually. I reckon people skipped the bar crawls in order to catch The Avengers? My faith is totally with the God of Thunder to be sure!

    Although some question the logic of keeping faith in times of distress, I always figured that was the point of Religion. Like how when people hit rock bottom and religion is though only thing that that gets them off their feet. I think it makes sense, since if a decent and loving man experiences earth shattering calamity, the (un)fairness of the universe might drive one insane. As such, I think that the alternative to a mind surrendering to irrationality leading into insanity is by …”containing” that irrationality, the mind making someway to deal with that irrationality in a rational manner. Thus leaving all those things that dont make sense up to “the lords will” or “the cycle of the universe” or whichever particular faith one finds, and giving you a way to keep on living.

    Oh, metalcore was basically my gateway to the metal universe, So this style always has a place in my heart. I definitely hear what Andy is talking about, these guys sound sharp and concise, definitely among the tightest of this style of music. I’ll definitely check out this new record.

    • I just want to say that I saw the Avengers (in 3-D) this afternoon, and it is amazing. Best super-hero movie ever, with the possible exception of The Dark Knight, and I’m having trouble thinking of any movie that equals it in the caliber of the special effects.

  9. Now because I don’t know the band personally this is second hand information, but from the bio I’ve read on the band they definitely know what it’s like to experience loss or hard times that are unthinkable. Aside from that, thanks Islander for posting the video. As a Christian and even longer time metal head, it’s hard to find a site that won’t post a video by a band like War of Ages without some christianity bashing even if the song has NOTHING to do with their beliefs. As far as the video, I was surprised in the direction it went but also glad. Christian bands need to not be afraid of making other christians uncomfortable, there’s reality and then there is chosen reality. Religion is chosen reality, a life of faith is reality. That being said, I accept and respect all view points. In fact I emailed Nergal from Behemoth just a few weeks ago to try to show him a more open minded Christian view point. One thing to remember as well is that concepts for videos aren’t always from the band, there are times where it’ll be the directors interpretation of the music and band agrees to it.

    I hate religion just as much as anyone of any faith, I believe in the Bible being the truth and I believe in Christ being my hope because if all I had was to believe in myself I wouldn’t want to live. These guys are great musicians and all around nice guys from what I hear. Christians definitely mourn, not just in current times but there are chapters in the Bible filled with mourning and anger. I know personally that while my faith in God helps me more than just trying to persevere in my own way through mourning, I’m not going to lie and not say it’s a struggle.

    • Thanks for making time to leave your comment Ben. Since writing the original post, I found this astute comment in an interview of WOA. Definitely not dogmatic:

      “Your first album began with a quote from [Christian author] Brennan Manning: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips but deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Why did you make this the intro?

      We wanted to put a shock to the Christian world. One of the biggest causes of atheism is Christians not leading life the way that they should. They’re very judgmental. It’s exactly what you just asked me—Christians walk up to you [and say] “You shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that.” That’s not your call. It’s not personal to you. Extremists are the cause of the downfall of a lot of things. Even Christians—there are extremists out there that make what we do even harder. Not necessarily everyone’s an extremist. You can definitely pick out an extremist group [from] someone who’s loving and doing it for a whole another reason. ”

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