What do the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Cannibal Corpse have in common? I love them both.

metal kid chris.jpg
(Erik Bremer)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormons, tend to have popular stereotypes: they all have nine kids in their family, they all go on missions and they all eat funeral potatoes.

However, my personal lifestyle has broken several of those stereotypes. I am an avid metal fan and I am a Mormon.

Since I was 13, I have been drawn to heavy metal and its hundreds of subgenres. I love the passion, aggression, art and freedom associated with it.

From an outside perspective, I seem like a walking contradiction. My musical lifestyle contrasts with my religious ideologies, seemingly heretical or damnable.

I grew up in a religious family where individuality and a lust for life were priorities. After I launched myself into the perpetual mosh pit that is metal, I felt at home. However, that feeling was tried and tested throughout my youth.

When I was a teenager, I would hear the whispers of peers and their parents as I would attend youth events wearing band shirts that carried a disruptive and aggressive message.

I recall not being invited to join certain out-of-church activities with the kids my age because I listened to “music that would drive the Spirit of God away.”

As I entered high school, I found it difficult to make friends with other students in LDS seminary classes. They would talk about new church artists they were discovering, and I would interject with a thought about Slipknot.

While sitting in church, the kids my age would discuss P!nk, Coldplay or other radio friendlies, and I would attempt to carry on the conversation by talking about As I Lay Dying’s newest album.

I felt as though what I enjoyed in life stood in the way of me fitting in and being a faithful Mormon. Instead of resenting those around me or the church itself, I instead further embraced my musical lifestyle and decided to pave my own path.

Being a metalhead changed from the cross I bear to the badge I wear. It’s what made me different from anyone else around me. My parents saw my desire to be different and taught me, “If you don’t want to fit in, then you better stand out.”

I embodied the life of both a metalhead and active church member and found an infinite number of ways to combine teachings from both.

I was taught by The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon to be proud of who I am and to stand up for what I believe in. Bands like Lamb of God, Unearth and Killswitch Engage carried the same messages in their music.

I was taught in church about the parable of The Good Samaritan and that we should always help each other when in times of need. While moshing at a Children of Bodom concert, I helped a man who had fallen down out of concern for his safety.

I was taught about the importance of serving your fellow man and letting them serve you. After I had fake blood spit all over me while watching the band Behemoth, my heart softened as several strangers approached me in genuine concern and asked if I needed medical attention.

Although certain metal bands have anti-religious messages, I have found my faith strengthened. My appreciation for metal increases as I go to church and my church experience improves as I listen to metal.

It’s common for me to talk about concert experiences in my church meetings. I often attend church events wearing death metal band shirts. I’ve even gone so far as to teach a church lesson relating spiritual strength to the history of grindcore.

My experiences in church buildings and my experiences in mosh pits have taught me one vital lesson: love the life that you lead. I am a metalhead. I am a Mormon. I am proud to be both.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. We have a lot in common. I listen to Lamb of God, The Devil Wears Prada, Between the Buried and Me, and All Shall Perish on the way to church most Sundays. And I’m a 33 yr old single mom. Go you.

  2. I listened to “Necroticism” from Carcass when I planned an Elders Quorum lesson once. The lesson turned out fine, actually I got many compliments.

    I’m pushing 50 and while my taste runs “old” (Maiden, Napalm Death, etc), I’m a fan of metal in general. I’m especially impressed with the bands that experiment with the genre or expand it and pushing it’s edges: anything from Rammstein to Amon Amarth, Dillinger Escape Plan to Opeth.

    Good day.

  3. Thanks for posting this. This is something that I have struggled a bit with throughout my life. I remember as a teenager listening to Opeth and Mastodon and feeling guilty for not enjoying EFY music.

    Over the past few years I have come to accept that I can listen to metal bands and be a member of the Church (I actually work at the Church in Salt Lake City on the IT side). Part of this is connecting with other employees who listen to all different kinds of music, not just the tabernacle choir and Kenneth Cope.

    My favorite band for the past 10 years has been Alcest. A particularly strong reason for this is the spiritual nature of their music. This band has helped me in so many ways.

    That said, I am careful what I listen to as I would with any genre of music. For example, I’m not going to listen to Behemoth, but I’m also not going to listen to The Weekend for very similar reasons – although they are very different genres of music 🙂

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