Heavy metal music tends to have a pretty bad reputation among Christians. (Much like rap music.) Even if the band claims a Christian affiliation, many people worry about how the sound of the music itself will affect spiritual grounding and influence the listener. As with rock music, there are arguments that the arrangement, tempo, and general loudness of heavy metal will open doors to a negative spiritual presence. But there is no biblical basis or evidence otherwise to prove this is true for all people.
Music was created by God for worshipping and praising Him. Because humankind was created in a Creator's image (Genesis 1:27), we are always looking for more ways to make new stuff—like music! We have more tools to make music today than we did fifty years ago, so artists are always trying to create new types of music with new technology or build upon what has been done with new ideas. The vast varieties of music available to us, from country, folk, heavy metal, rock, electronica, etc., are all expressions of our built-in desire to imitate the Creator (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 2:21).
But even good things can get twisted. Some may have negative emotional associations to heavy metal music—even if heavy metal doesn't bother those around them. Your parents may have grown up in a generation and culture where heavy metal was near-exclusively used to fuel rebellion, sex, and drugs (kind of like rock music in the 60s). And it's true that the heavy metal scene of today is still heavily associated with drugs and rebellion.
Many Christian heavy metal bands view the metal scene as a place in need of hope. But for people who associate the sounds of heavy metal music with temptations from their past, even Christian heavy metal music, with biblically sound themes, may cause problems in their walk with God. Philippians 4:8 says to focus only on beautiful and edifying things. If Christian heavy metal makes it hard for the listener to focus on the standard of Philippians 4:8, then that person should probably choose a different type of music to listen to.
Because everyone has different and deeply personal good and bad connections to music, Philippians 4:8 is a guideline to apply to any music we listen to. Ask yourself if your heart's motive for listening to heavy metal music is glorifying God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and be aware that even if you like it, your friend (or your mom or dad!) might not. (ALSO SEE: What kind of music can Christians listen to?
It is very possible that your parents aren't trying to just squash your musical choices, but they may have strong, negative associations to heavy metal that they're trying to protect you from. If you really want to listen to a certain type of music, discuss this with them, listening to their reasoning with the goal of understanding. You may come to a compromise...but you may not. Be prepared to respectfully obey them if they don't choose to change the house rules.
Heavy metal music has many sub-genres, such as death metal, gothic metal, and fantasy metal. To gauge the appropriateness for yourself, you must look at the individual sub-genres and perhaps even look at each individual song's lyrics.
You may have heard heavy metal joked about being satanic, and, sadly, the sub-genre of "death metal" does have quite a few satanic themes. Fortunately, many satanic-themed bands stick to the death metal sub-genre, so it's easy to avoid.
Gothic metal's topics can range from suicide and emotional pain to mythological storytelling. But there are other sub-genres of heavy metal that don't have anything to do with emotional distress at all!
Fantasy metal is often "speed" (really fast) or "power" (really "full") metal, where the song lyrics are ballads of brave knights and beautiful maidens and slaying of dragons. Blind Guardian, a secular German speed metal band, even has an album entirely devoted to singing through J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Silmarillion" stories! Like most musical genres, heavy metal music can spawn from almost any topic.
It's important to note that music which is labeled "Christian" doesn't necessarily make something free from flaw or good for everyone. We must evaluate how what we're listening to is affecting us—no matter WHAT we're listening to. Maybe we don't have emotional baggage in our past with heavy metal, but are we listening to a band that claims Christianity yet glorifies anger, suicide, despair, and death OR condemns those struggling to find hope? There can be a very fine line between empathizing with emotional pain and glorifying it and, unfortunately, it is largely between us and God to be aware of how any given music is speaking to our hearts.
If you have a conviction in your heart against listening to heavy metal music—Christian OR secular—then stop listening to it (1 Thessalonians 5:19), pray about it (Philippians 4:6), and figure out where the problem stems from (James 1:5). God doesn't find your music preferences too petty to ask about and, in fact, wants to help you in every aspect of your life.
If the heavy metal music you listen to doesn't glorify sinful things, death, etc., and your heart is being built up to focus on the beautiful things of God, then your choice to listen (or not listen) is left up to your musical taste. You might love the musical stylings of heavy metal but be convicted against listening to it. Or you might have no moral issue with heavy metal but just not prefer the style. And that's OK too! Whatever your decision, let it be between you and God.
Music was created by God for worshipping Him, but good things can get twisted. Heavy metal music may create negative emotional associations for some, as it has been used to fuel rebellion, sex, and drugs. Many Christian heavy metal bands seek to bring hope to the metal scene. But if your parents have banned metal, you must obey them (Ephesians 6:1-3). If you have a conviction against listening to heavy metal—Christian OR secular—then stop listening to it (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Philippians 4:8), pray (Philippians 4:6), and discover where the problem lies (James 1:5). If the music you listen to doesn't glorify sinful things, death, etc. and your heart is focusing on beautiful, godly things, then this choice is a matter of taste. Whatever your decision, let it be between you and God.
September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.