Rock and Religion / Rock et Religion

Dossier Rock et Religion : Rock the Casbah ! Track 2

2011_09_26_punk-rock-film-week-taqwacoresIn our first article, we saw that rock bands, in Muslim countries, face harsh repression from governments, which is vividly and ardently challenged. However, it looks like rock bands get the better of these punishments. Indeed, since the 2000s, their growth is exponential and nowadays, they do not hesitate to assert themselves and they denounce, in a mix of rock and traditionnal music, inequality, injustice and corruption. At the same time, more and more festivals dedicated to rock music are implemented and, as the years go on, they attract an increasing audience.

Dans notre premier article, nous avons vu que les groupes de rock dans les pays à majorité musulmane sont victimes d'une féroce répression de la part des gouvernements. Cette répression est vivement et ardemment contestée, et il semblerait que les rockeurs réussissent peu à peu à obtenir gain de cause. En effet, depuis les années 2000, on note une croissance exponentielle des groupes de rock, qui n'hésitent plus à s'affirmer, et dénoncent, dans un mélange de musique rock et folklorique, les inégalités, les injustices et la corruption. A cela s'ajoute la mise en place de festivals consacrés à ce style, qui, d'année en année, drainent un public de plus en plus nombreux.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Rock the Casbah ! Track 2

Dossier Rock et Religion : Rock the Casbah ! Track 1

muslim_metalRock and islam: a priori, never the twain shall meet. Yet, these movements do exist, as events in Baghdad have amply proved, 14 young punks having been stoned to death there only in this month of March. It is in a political perspective that we intend to address the phenomenon, rather than through the prism of religion, since rockers themselves, in Muslim countries almost never refer to religion. We will first analyse the posture of the Qur'an regarding music, then we will study the repression implemented by governments to undermine the advocates of rock, and finally the values the latter defend.

Rock et islam, a priori deux termes incompatibles. Et pourtant, ces mouvements existent, comme l'ont récemment prouvé les événements de Bagdad, où 14 jeunes punks ont été lapidés à mort, au début de ce mois de mars. C'est selon une perspective politique que nous traiterons de ce phénomène, plutôt que sous le prisme du religieux, les rockeurs dans les pays musulmans n'abordant presque jamais la religion. Il s'agira de voir la position adoptée par le Coran vis-à-vis de la musique, puis d'étudier la répression mise en oeuvre par certains gouvernements pour lutter contre les défenseurs du rock, ainsi que les valeurs défendues par ces derniers.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Rock the Casbah ! Track 1

Dossier Rock et Religion : Interview Orphaned Land

orphaned-landOrphaned Land, in English, or Adama Yetoma in Hebrew refers to the land of Israel. It also designates an Israeli folk metal band native from Petah Tikva, which was founded in 1992. It is the pioneer of what we nowadays name « oriental metal ».

Why this name ? At his beginnings, the band was called « Resurrection band » and played death and thrash metal, taking its roots in/ from the band Slayer, as an example. However, little by little, the members drove away from this pattern and they started playing more melodious sounds and oriental rhythmics. As if they wanted to back up their mutation, the members of the band decided to change their name. Thus, they chose the name of « Orphaned Land » because both these words refers to one of the numerous symbols of the land of Israel. Matti Svatiski, rhythmic guitar player of the band explains that this name was chosen because it is a reference shared by the three monotheistic religions. The band aims at showing that Abrahamic thought exists, and its message is clear / limpid: no matter if one believes (or does not) in Yahve, Allah or the Holy Trinity; we are all equal in the eyes of god, and in the eyes of music.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Interview Orphaned Land

Dossier Rock et Religion : « Then Moses said to Pharaoh : “ Let my people rock ! ” » /Track 2

rabbin_rockAfter having shown, in our first part, how rock was perceived in Jewish religion, and after having highlighted one of the branches of Folk Metal, generally called oriental Metal, where we find some bands resorting to Jewish religious references, we are now going to have a look at the modern generation by showing there are, at the same time, bands which convey a message inspired by Jewish religion or by the texts of the Ancient Testament, and bands others, which are profoundly anti-religious.

Après avoir vu dans notre première partie comment pouvait être perçu le Rock dans la religion juive, et après avoir parlé de l'une des branches du Folk Metal, communément appelée Metal oriental où l'on trouve des groupes s'appropriant certaines références religieuses juives, nous allons maintenant nous intéresser à la génération d'aujourd'hui en montrant qu'il existe à la fois des groupes délivrant un message inspiré de la religion juive ou des textes de l'Ancien Testament, et d'autres profondément anti-religieux.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : « Then Moses said to Pharaoh : “ Let my people rock ! ” » /Track 2

Dossier Rock et Religion : « Then Moses said to Pharaoh : “ Let my people rock ! ” » /Track 1

moses_guitarSome combinations or associations may strike one as highly unlikely. Thus, Rock music is often described as a genre of protest music and as such, opposed to any and every form of religion. Nevertheless, this is by no means the whole truth. In our series of articles devoted to Rock and religion, the following is going to argue that some groups, those belonging to one trend of Metal collectively labelled "Eastern", constantly refer  implicitly or explicitly to certain texts from the Old Testament, or to the rites and customs of Judaism.

Il est de certains mélanges ou associations qui nous semblent quelques fois improbables. Ainsi, d'une façon générale, le Rock est très vite qualifié de genre musical protestataire et opposé à toutes formes de religion. Pourtant, c'est loin d'être une vérité générale. Dans notre série d'articles consacrée au Rock et à la religion, celui-ci va tenter de montrer que quelques groupes appartenant à un courant du Metal, communément appelé « oriental », fait référence de manière implicite ou explicite à certains textes de l'Ancien testament, ou à des rites et coutumes de la religion juive.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : « Then Moses said to Pharaoh : “ Let my people rock ! ” » /Track 1

Dossier Rock et Religion : Jesus Rocks ! Track 2

“When I write my own lyrics, I pray to God, because I am Christian, and I ask Him to help me. I feel that God will inspire me to write something good”
(Jake Luhrs, singer of the band August Burns Red).


The 2000s signal the explosion of the Christian rock/metal music style. All of the musical subgenres are affected, from the Nu-metal, which appeared in the mid-1990s with artists such as Payable Of Death (P.O.D) or Brian “Head” Welch, to Metalcore, which assembles an important Christian musical scene with The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying or Norma Jean, to mention only a few. However, some of them, like P.O.D do not explicit their faith in order to penetrate the secular market. Others, such as The Devil Wears Prada openly come to terms with their beliefs. The Christian Church itself starts to get interested in this style, considered as useful to convey the Christian message.Thus, what are the techniques used by these bands, mostly from the United States, to render visible the Christian message? Is this message relevant or does it only take advantage of a commercial trend?

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Jesus Rocks ! Track 2

Dossier Rock et Religion : Jesus Rocks ! Track 1

ozzie-the-god-of-heavy-metal-50398The Christian world has interfered within the metal / rock scene from the 1970s, with precursors such as Larry Norman, Resurrection Band, Jerusalem. The Christian « rock / metal music » combines the musical sub genres of this style with a Christian-oriented message. This category of rock boomed during the 1980s, thanks to the commercial success of the band Stryper, which brought this scene out of the underground world. However, this success raised many questions within the traditional Christian community. The following aims at focusing on the origins of the Metal music scene, and explaining its rise and what the reactions by the Church toward this phenomenon have been.


I've changed my ways from wrong to right. 
The devil never pays, no, he robs just like a thief in the night 
So many bands give the devil all the glory 
It's hard to understand, we want to change the story 
We want to rock one way, on and on. 
You'll see the light some day 
All say Jesus is the way.
(Stryper, chanson From Wrong To Right, album « The yellow and Black attack » (1984).

Ce passage de la chanson de Stryper, sorti en 1984 avec l’album The Yellow and the Black Attack vient bouleverser et populariser un style nouveau de la musique metal : le metal dit chrétien, combinaison entre la musique metal et un discours chrétien assumé. Selon les groupes, ce message peut passer par les paroles, par la scène et les interviews, par l’exemple d’un mode de vie qui suit les préceptes chrétiens.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Jesus Rocks ! Track 1

Dossier Rock et Religion : Et Dieu créa le rock... / Track 4

Rock and religion in history may look like a freak hybrid between a certain faustian mythology and others: the myth of Jesus Christ, for instance. The example provided by the relationship between Christianity and Christian rock appears to be really edifying, because of the age of the phenomenon and its amazing development. But the connections between metal rock and other religions are interesting too. Indeed, these connections may be of very different natures depending on the religion in question, on the country concerned and - especially - the period in which its rise takes place.

L'histoire du rock et du religieux est assimilable à un croisement entre une certaine mythologie faustienne et d'autres mythologies : celle de Jésus Christ par exemple. L'exemple des rapports entre christianisme et rock chrétien apparaît particulièrement édifiant en raison de l'ancienneté de ce phénomène et de l'importance de son développement. Nous aborderons également les relations entre le rock metal et les autres religions. Il est intéressant de voir que ces rapports peuvent être très différents d'une religion à l'autre, d'un pays à l'autre et - surtout - d'une époque à une autre.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Et Dieu créa le rock... / Track 4

Dossier Rock et Religion : Et Dieu créa le rock... / Track 3

combichrist-tickets-webster-theater_1303554731438The charisma of certain rock or metal artists turns them into real missionaries. So, music appears to become a vehicle for the distribution of messages: sometimes against the dangers linked to occultism, at other times, on the contrary, carryng anti-religious messages. We can thus distinguish missionaries against the Devil - Alice Cooper for instance -, from missionaries of the Occult - Deicide, among others. Other movements go even further, including Satanism, and among these different forms may be distinguished : cultural, doctrinal, or acid Satanism.

Missionnaires contre le Malin

Le charisme dont font preuve certains artistes rock ou metal font d'eux de véritables missionnaires. La musique apparaît alors comme un moyen de diffusion des messages, lesquels sont parfois en contraste avec les comportements scénographiques des artistes.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Et Dieu créa le rock... / Track 3

Dossier Rock et Religion : Et Dieu créa le rock... / Track 2



Metal concerts are the loci of rites which found the metal community. They offer the opportunity to make a break with everyday life. Collective and repetitive forms of behavior are practised, such as pogo, headbanging and slam. These violent practices are however regulated and testify to the solidarity between fans.


During a concert, the community shares common behavioral, sartorial (dark clothes, fatigues, high-laced boots), and linguistic codes.


Certain subcultures of Metal display a still greater religious dimension. Among these, Black Metal, where there is the undeniable presence of an elitist dimension.


Concerts et pratiques rituelles

C'est un fait, la musique métal est imprégnée « d'éclats de religion », pour reprendre l'expression d'Alexis Mombelet. La divinisation de certains artistes s'accompagnent en effet d'autres phénomènes à caractère religieux, à savoir la présence de rites, de cultes, voire de pèlerinages.

Read more: Dossier Rock et Religion : Et Dieu créa le rock... / Track 2