When I started the Meltdown ministry, young people into
heavy rock were being ignored by churches. The reason was
their appearance: long hair, leather jackets, T-shirts, maybe
tattoos. Churches were unable to relate to the culture. I suppose
they were afraid: what happens if 20 long-haired bikers come
We formed a Christian band, and took the gospel
message into pubs and clubs. Scripture teaches us we should become
all things to all men. Someone has to become like the young people
the Church is not reaching.
When you get to know them, nine times out of
ten they are quiet, quite soft-hearted people. They just enjoy
their music hard and heavy and loud, but it doesn't affect their
nature in any way. When they do convert to Christianity, they find
it hard to be accepted because of the way they're dressed: Jesus
didn't die for you, because he doesn't like your choice of
Society has changed, of course. The Church
Times wouldn't have been talking to me 20 years ago. I took a
few years off church and fellowshipped with people in house groups,
but I've noticed, since returning to church, it's no longer
possible to look at a young person in society and tell what group
they're in. Some you'd look at and think, they must listen to
Justin Bieber, but they listen to hardcore metal.
If you played one of the favourite Wesley hymns in the
style of Iron Maiden on Sunday morning, it probably wouldn't work
that well; but it might work at a youth evening. One of
the areas we fail in is being seen to be relevant to young
Meltdown are in the process of putting together a
worship band, and I've asked them to choose some really
well-known worship songs and rock them up, so we can release this
summer. Music in the style that young people enjoy would show them
that the some parts of the Church have moved on.
Meltdown is a Christian residential weekend for people
who enjoy any style of hard or alternative music. We have
quality Bible teaching, and evening rock concerts featuring some of
the best Christian hard-music bands in the UK. For the past 22
years, the weekend retreat has catered for people that a lot of
churches find hard to reach with the gospel message. It is very
much a Christ-centred weekend rather than a weekend based around
Starting a church for people who like a specific kind of
music is defeating the object. The Church is the body of
Christ, and we should be one family. Are you worshipping heavy
metal or are you worshipping Jesus? If you respond to the rejection
by forming your own church, you're adding to the problem. It's a
solution for the individual, but when people ask me, "Why didn't
you start a Meltdown church?" I'd much rather tackle the issue in
the mainstream Church.
So we encourage people to find a local church who will
accept them for who they are, and just come once a year
for a weekend retreat and like-minded fellowship.
Detonation is an online magazine that covers
the activities of the Christian hard-music scene in the UK and
around the world. You can find interviews with band
members, album and concert reviews, and watch video clips of bands
and speakers. The magazine will shortly be undergoing a makeover,
and we hope to see more regular updates and maybe - no promise - a
weekly or monthly podcast.
Metal has its roots in blues rock, and the
founders are generally considered to be Black Sabbath, or Lemmy, of
Motorhead fame. Christian metal started in the early 1980s with the
US bands Stryper and Bloodgood.
Metal and hard music is always raw. The guitars
are amplified and distorted, giving a raw sound, while the drums
are played hard and with an electricity that could never be
replicated in any other genre of music. Metal music is always
energetic even when harnessed: it is always full of power and
passion, just like our faith should be.
Metal and hard music is possibly the most expressive
form of music we can listen to. Both the music and the
lyrics of a well-written Christian metal song can express aspects
of the Christian faith. Some songs can stand aggressively against
the works of the Devil, using the harsh-edged driving guitar and
screamed vocals of metal music to raise a standard against the
works of evil; while other songs can express the love and beauty of
the sacrifice of Calvary to those who need to hear the Christian
People's concept of Jesus is that they see him as meek
and mild. Actually, when he cleared the Temple, he sat
down and actually made the whip himself. There are elements in
God's nature of meekness, but also passion.
There are so many different bands, playing in different
styles. For one person, the harder-edged screamed vocal
styles of hardcore bands like For Today would be favourite, while,
for others, the melodic, almost symphonic, metal style of bands
like Theocracy would win out. At the end of the day, the Holy
Spirit is writing the best music as he guides those who have been
called by God to write and perform Christian metal music. Music is
an ever-evolving entity, and it will change to reflect the modern
The bands that I admire the most are those who are not
ashamed of their Christian faith, and express it through
their lyrics and onstage performance. Bands that hide their message
in their lyrics, and are unwilling to be open about their faith,
are just noisy vessels making use of a Christian music scene to
satisfy their own egos and worldly desires.
Without Jesus at the centre, all we have is a
string of musical notes and sung lyrics. So, yes, the UK Christian
metal scene is a community of believers. The people who attend and
participate in these communities worship Christ in the same way our
Churches worship Christ.
Some of the sincerest Christians I have met come from
Christian hard-music communities.
I experience God the same way all Christians experience
God: through prayer, worship, and a personal relationship
with Jesus. I walk with him daily.
My first experience of God came on the day I accepted
Jesus as my personal Saviour. After watching a performance
of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in London, I heard a
preacher at Speakers' Corner and then was led to a Pentecostal
church. I accepted Christ, and I have followed him since that day.
Without question, this was the most important choice I have ever
had to make.
No one in my family is a musician, but both my
sons have an active interest in the bands and music. My elder son
has started a media company, shooting music videos for bands.
Like most people I have lots of regrets, but,
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who
love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I suppose
I regret not taking my education at school seriously enough. It is
good that God does not always call the qualified, but, rather,
qualifies the called.
I'd like to be remembered for dying at a ripe old
age, and having served God through my calling to the best
of my ability.
I love the Lake District, and visiting friends in the
US. I have many American friends who are metal
I enjoy the writing of J. R. R. Tolkien.
I spent many long hours listening to Roger
Price, a Bible teacher from Chichester Christian
Fellowship. His Bible teaching is inspirational and
Any Bible passage that contains those ridiculous long
lists of names, and who begat whom, drives me to put the
book down and make a cup of tea. I love the book of Job and how he
dealt with the challenges he faced in his life.
Not a lot makes me angry, to be honest. I
suppose I get heated with Christians who stand in judgement on a
self-made pedestal of false perfection.
I'm happiest when I see the Meltdown ministry make a
real impact on a person's life. I love to see God at work,
and see how he can change and transform a person.
I pray all the time. I pray for my family, and
my ministry, and for financial provision for the ministry; and for
myself. The youth are the Church of the future, and we need to see
young people making a stand for Jesus.
My first church was a Methodist church, and I
was introduced to the amazing hymn-writing of Charles Wesley. It
would be great to spend time with him, talking about his
experiences and his faith.
Dave Williams was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.