Church Music and Heavy Metal

  • This article explores the concept of Malay rock in Malaysia in the 80s and 90. It discusses whether this brand of Malay rock imitates Western Rock music.It also reviews Malay heavy metal icon Norzila Aminuddin's album, "Ella USA", track by track, analyzing the ideas the lyrics were trying to express.

  • One particular point that I found interesting was that the young Malays then lost interest in traditional music and chose to listen to popular Western music. I can't help but to compare this phenomenon with what is happening in music played in churches today. To engage the youth and to probably to increase memberships, most churches around the world are employing or have employed the use of contemporary music for their worship services. In the past, traditional churches did not have drum sets, let alone electric guitars for its worship services and the only instrument then was probably the pipe organ or a piano. Now, the more 'modern' churches have a full band setup consisting of drums, synthesizers, bass guitar and not one but sometimes two or more electric guitars coupled with effects. Some even likened it to attending a concert draws in the younger crowd wanting something new, hence making these 'modern' churches grow much faster than conservative churches singing only traditional hymns. This phenomenon can be seen churches worldwide, including Singapore. Some churches like Hillsong Church or Paradise Church in Australia have recordings of their songs for sale too. These churches also have music catered for their youth. For instance, they have youth bands to play these trendy songs at their youth services. Some examples of these bands include United Live at Hillsong Church, Planetshakers at Paradise Church and Jesus Culture at Bethel Church in Redding, California.
  • Moving back to heavy metal, I'd like to introduce this documentary "Metal: A Headbangers' Journey". Interestingly, it is written by an anthropologist who is fan of heavy metal. He introduces the origins of metal and examines the music's appeal. He even had to 'live' with the 'metalheads' in Europe during the Wacken Open Air Festival, the biggest metal festival in Europe. Just like what we learnt in this course, he was like a 'stranger abroad' when he investigated Norway's infamous Black Metal scene and conducted interviews (like in our project) with other fans and the heavy metal musicians themselves. He also tackles the gender issues like masculinity, sexism and homoeroticism. Religious issues were also highlighted such as church burnings and Satanism.

  • It's actually very entertaining to watch. Maybe this could even be in next year's video list for SC2218 since it's somewhat related to anthropology too, under counter-culture perhaps?

  • Another similar documentry is Global Metal, it's about how heavy metal has influenced a myraid of cultures all over the world. From Indonesdia, China, and even the middle East.

In retrospect, while church music and heavy metal may seem poles apart at first, they do have some things in common. Their music can be tools to unite people of different backgrounds with similar interests, whether you're a young church-goer or a metal-head, and this forms a community as the videos has shown.

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